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Alkek One Spaces and Equipment: Podcasting Tips

This LibGuide contains all current guides, tutorials, and troubleshooting documentation for the spaces and equipment available for use in Alkek One. This guide is undergoing continual revision and updates.

How to Make a Podcast

This page is a LibGuide adaptation of the Academic Podcasting Handbook, created in May 2023 by Dr. Elizabeth Hambleton, Dr. Elizabeth Bishop, Amy Bushong, Brent Holcomb, and Aaron Holland published in May 2023. The project was sponsored by a grant from Humanities Texas.

This LibGuide adaptation is created by Dr. Elizabeth Hambleton.

For more lessons and information on podcasting, audio recording and editing, video recording and editing, and much more, sign up for a workshop in Alkek One!

Welcome to Alkek One!

This is where you can find a compilation of all the guides the subject specialists have made for the spaces in Alkek One. Consider this your handy one-stop shop for troubleshooting tips, usage instructions, and getting started guides for the spaces and equipment in YouStar Studios and the MakerSpace.

Alkek One Hours of Operation

Fall semester hours

 

Monday-Thursday: 7:30am-1am
Friday: 7:30am-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 10am-1am

https://www.library.txst.edu/alkek/calendar/alkek-one-hours.html

Fall semester hours

 

Monday-Thursday: 7:30am-11pm
Friday: 7:30am-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 10am-11pm

https://www.library.txst.edu/alkek/calendar/alkek-one-hours.html

Fall semester hours

 

Monday-Thursday: 7:30am-11pm
Friday: 7:30am-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 10am-11pm

https://www.library.txst.edu/alkek/calendar/alkek-one-hours.html

Fall semester hours

 

Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday-Sunday: closed

https://www.library.txst.edu/alkek/calendar/alkek-one-hours.html

The 8 Step Process

Scope: How broad or deep is your topic? In other words, are you covering "Stories From Various Times In History" (broad) or are you focusing on "This Specific Year In Time" (deep)? Furthermore, is this broad/deep scope for your overall series and brand, or does it apply to episodes? You can have a broad podcast series scope but each episode is a deeper slice. Think about how you want your episodes to fit into this larger theme and scope. This helps set your audience's expectations.

How lighthearted or serious is your topic? In other words, are you talking about "Fun Wacky Stuff My Cat Does" (lighthearted) or are you digging into the heart of "How To Deal With Loss of a Pet" (serious)? Comedy is not necessarily lighthearted, such as dark comedy, and banal topics don't have to be serious, such as how-to's. Once you pick a lane, your audience will expect that level of lightness or heaviness, and they may be surprised and turn away from the show if you break their expectation.

Is your podcast informational and educational, or is it wacky and irreverent? Do you have a thesis to convey or are you just entertaining the audience? Whether you are doing an interview or have a looser co-host situation, knowing your message from start to finish is important to hold audience's attention and interest.

Topic: Choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Audiences can sense discomfort or boredom if you don't like your topic.

Choose a topic that suits the goal of your podcast scope. If you wanted to make a co-host off-the-cuff comedy show, you might want to avoid particularly serious topics. An educational show can be funny or it can be more serious and deadpan, though some topics might more easily lend themselves to one side of the spectrum than the other. Weigh your options before you decide.

-> What format of podcast is this? Are you conducting structured interviews in a journalistic style? Are you hamming it up with a co-host or two? Are you doing dramatic readings of stories, more like an audiobook? Is this more like a radio-play with voice acting and sound effects and background music? How does your topic work with the scope, and how does the scope serve the topic?

Outline: Don't go into a podcast recording session without notes! Have an outline prepared with topics you wish to broach, questions you want to ask, and points you want to make. It is ok if you don't get to everything in the notes. The purpose of the notes is so you always have something to say, and you will stay on topic and in scope.

Audience: Consider who you are making this podcast for. Is your audience other college students, maybe listening to something funny at the gym or unwinding after a long study session? Are you speaking to academics on academic topics, more like a conference presentation? Is your show for adults more broadly who want to learn something? This will help you finetune your scope and topic, and also inform your language choices. If your topic and scope are not too academic, avoid jargon; vice versa for the reverse. If your audience may include children, don't swear during the recording and avoid rated-R topics.

You have such a brilliant idea for a podcast! You know just what to say and how to say it! You might be able to skip this step and do it all solo. But it's likely you will need some of the following:

  • A co-host
  • An interviewee
  • A writer
  • An audio technician
  • A composer
  • An illustrator/graphic designer
  • A marketing person

Getting a co-host: Most people, especially with a first podcast, approach a friend. Find someone you can trust to keep to a deadline and who will respect your artistic goal (or enhance it with collaboration!).

Getting an interviewee: If the person you seek is well-known, for example an author of a book, a scholar at the top of their field, a local celebrity, the cold email is incredibly important to get right. Here is a sample template the authors of this material made.

Why a Writer: A writer can save you the time of writing a script. If you are going with a story or radio-play, a writer can write the narrative. The writer does not necessarily have a speaking role on the show. Credit them at the end of the podcast episode.

Why an Audio Technician: An audio technician monitors the recording equipment during the recording session, and can make alterations on the fly if someone gets too loud or the air conditioner turns on and makes noise. They can also edit the recording afterwards. The audio tech does not have a speaking role during the show. Credit them at the end of the podcast episode.

Why a composer: When your podcast gets rolling, you may want a theme song or original music played in the background of your show to set your podcast apart. The composer does not necessarily have a speaking role on the show. Credit them at the end of the podcast episode.

Why an illustrator or graphic artist: When you post your podcast on platforms like Spotify, you'll need to upload "album art." You can have one logo that you reuse for all your visual needs, or you can have fun with it and have a different cover for each episode (though, you'll still want a logo and other consistent elements to retain brand recognition).

Why a marketing person: There's a reason this is someone's full-time job in a business setting! Making digital and physical flyers or posters, finding outlets to post said flyers (libraries are always a great idea!), and updating social media to spread the word about upcoming episodes and developments are just some of the important yet time-consuming tasks a marketer does. If you intend to hit it big, you won't want to do this one by yourself. Consider hiring someone who can do it part-time.

The following content is copied directly from the handbook:

This section of the handbook touches on several points focused on copyright and use restrictions. Here we present a mix of “do”s and “don’t”s and where to find more concrete information on how to proceed.

https://www.library.txst.edu/services/research-services/copyright-assistance/copyright-useful-tips/professionals.html

  • Don’t use copyrighted music or art
  • Permission to use a copyrighted book:
    • You are talking *about* the book/article, so this should all be fine.
    • To be safe, provide a full verbal and written citation for the work, and include page numbers for direct quotes.
    • To be safe, ask permission from the rights-holder. Preferably, this will be in writing.
  • Permission is NOT required to use the following:
    • Use of works that are in the public domain;
    • Use of works owned by the U.S. government;
    • Use of a fact, idea, theory, slogan, title, or short phrase;
    • Use of creative commons licensed content;
    • Anything if you are making a fair use work.
  • Fair use: any use of a copyrighted work done for a limited and ‘transformative’ purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody the work.

The podcast episodes of “For Example TXST” are fair use. We are creating a transformative work commenting upon another work. Bonus points: it’s educational. That’s how music professors get away with playing Disney songs in class.

That said, to be safe, have your guest(s) sign a release for publicity stuff. Their name and intellectual property is being showcased in a publicly available format. They want to be represented accurately. As soon as you can, get your guest to sign a release form that makes your intentions clear. What exactly is being distributed? Their voice, their likeness, their intellectual thoughts? Where will this be distributed? Will it make money? Do they get a slice of that money? And so on.

Here is some sample language for a release form: I _________________ grant [Podcast Entity], its successors and assigns a universal, irrevocable, unconditional, royalty-free, right and license (with full rights to sublicense through multiple tiers) to: (1) use my picture, voice (including all written or verbal statements), appearance, name, likeness, actions, statements, performance, and biographical information (such as my twitter handle) (collectively, my “Publicity Rights”), and (2) copy, distribute, perform, display, modify, and generally to exploit, my Publicity Rights, including without limitation to advertise, promote or market all or portions of the Course and related programs and courses (e.g., compilations, mini-series or best-of).

And, some helpful links:  

What kind of copyright? https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.pdf

Who owns the copyright? https://publicrecords.copyright.gov/

The following paragraph is copied directly from the handbook:

There are many options for technology choices to make a podcast. Plenty of “bedroom podcasts” are done at home with a simple home recording setup, or even just a laptop’s built-in microphone. In order to get decent sound quality worthy of a grant-sponsored podcast, we highly recommend at least a home recording studio if not a pro-level recording studio. Many cities have professional recording studios (that may or may not be affiliated with the local radio stations) that you can book time in for a small out of pocket fee. More and more public and academic libraries have microphones and streaming or recording equipment (e.g. mic stands, ring lights, pop filters) available for short-term checkout. Some libraries, like Alkek Library at TXST, also have recording studios you can book time in for free.

Some tips for Audio:

Studios: The YouStar Audio studios (rooms 107A and 107B in Alkek) are kitted with Rodecaster Pro I mixers, two SM7B dynamic microphones, two pairs of good quality headphones, and are sound-treated (meaning they cut down on noise bleed coming in and getting out, though they are not perfectly soundproof). The dynamic microphones are industry-standard for podcast recording and singing recording! The mixer cleans up the audio recording on the fly by applying effects like noise-gating (when it detects noise, such as an air conditioner running, it reduces the sound so the noise doesn't take over) and de-essing (when it detects a "hiss" sound, it reduces the recording volume; great for when people are talking a long time without water and get lispy!). Another plus for the mixer: you can patch in phone calls or video calls, and get much clearer audio than if you recorded the computer output. For more detailed information, please consult the Audio Recording Studios guide on the home page of this libguide.

Microphones: If you want to skip the mixer and the studio and just work at home, you can! You may still want to use a microphone better than the one built into your computer or phone. Audio Technica has an excellent USB-connected condenser microphone that won't break the bank (not a sponsor, just a fan). Alkek One also has some for short-term checkout!

How do you pick a microphone? To summarize, you'll want either a condenser or a dynamic. Condenser microphones pick up every little sound - your voice will sound great and rich! But, if you don't have a very, very quiet room, they'll pick up all that noise, too. Dynamic microphones are generally used more for singing than speaking, though plenty of specific dynamic mics are suitable for both (such as the Shure SM7Bs). With audio hardware, it is generally accepted that you get what you pay for; higher prices really do mean higher quality. But, there are exceptions, and there are diminishing returns at a certain point. A $100 microphone can be a solid choice! Mics that connect via XLR into an interface or mixer will generally be better quality, be default, than mics that plug in with USB. But, sometimes the difference is negligible.

Recording software: There are tons of apps out there that will do just fine. My three favorites for computers are: Audacity (any platform, free and open source), Garageband (macOS only), and Audition (any platform, part of the Adobe Creative Suite). Plug in your mixer, interface, or USB-connected microphone with a USB cord, set your "microphone" as that other device (not your computer mic), press record. With Audacity and Audition, you can add some live effects like compression, same as if you used a mixer. If you are using a mixer, do not use extra effects in the software. If you are not using a mixer, these extra effects can be a nice touch to get a clean recording!

Some tips for Video

Studios: The YouStar Video studios (rooms 108 and 109A) feature zoomable/movable cameras, a greenscreen, condenser microphones hanging from the ceiling to pick up sound, and excellent sound-treatment. During regular business hours, you can also borrow rolling armchairs. All videos recorded in the studios are saved onto a USB drive you bring in yourself; if you find yourself without a USB drive, the MakerSpace sells them at market price whenever they are open (see their hours listed on the left of this page). For more detailed information, please consult the YouStar Video Recording Tutorial on the homepage of this libguide.

Cameras: any camera will do, though you will likely prefer a dedicated piece of hardware rather than the little camera built into your computer. Most cameras record to an SD card that you will then transfer to a computer to edit. A high-quality webcam, or a smartphone camera after 2018, or pretty much any standalone camcorder will suffice for a podcast video recording.

Recording software: There are tons of apps out there that will do just fine. My favorites are OBS (any platform, free and open source), Yuja (browser-based, available through TXST Canvas) and Premiere Pro (any platform, part of the Adobe Creative Suite). Plug in your camera, set your "camera" as that other device (not your computer camera), and press record. These all also have many effects that can be added live or after recording!

The following section is copied directly from the handbook:

A step-by-step guide to using the AlkekOne YouStar Audio Studios:

  • Turn on the Rødecaster (the mixer).
  • Make sure microphones are plugged in; make sure headphones are plugged in, and you have the right number (one pair per person).
  • Don headphones and press the green “audition” button below each microphone slider.
  • Move the sliders so that the green bars on the screen are usually around half, and 2/3 when you get excited and louder.
  • Adjust the headphone volume so that you can hear comfortably.
  • Option 1: insert microSD card. Check the Rødecaster screen – in the top right corner, the little icon with the card should have removed the red X. You will be prompted to format the SD card – this will erase everything else on it! Agree to format the SD card. Press the big “record” button.
  • Option 2: plug in a laptop with a USB-C to USB3.0 cable (available for checkout from the AlkekOne front desk). Open the audio recording program of your choice (I highly recommend Audacity). Set your recording device in the software to the Rødecaster. Turn on monitoring; in Audacity, this means clicking the horizontal bar in the top center of the screen, next to the microphone icon where it says “Click to start monitoring.” If those green bars are peaking in the yellow or orange, take the microphone slider on the Rødecaster down a notch or two. Press the “record” button in Audacity.

A step-by-step guide to using the Alkek One YouStar Video Studios

  • Log into the computer with your netID.
  • If you are using a background on the green screen, drag the desired image (uploaded from a USB drive or found on the computer or internet) to the upper screen.
  • If you are using a script, drag the desired document (uploaded from a USB drive or found on the internet) to the lower screen.
  • Plug your USB drive into the blue port on the table.
  • Zoom and pan the camera to fit your shot just right.
  • Press record on the camera tablet.

How to book time in our studios

    Go here, to Mazevo.

    Follow the prompts to create a reservation for the room and time you want.

What to do during the scheduled time

Set up microphones to your liking (audio studio only). Make sure the chairs are set up in the recording studio with an optimal distance for each participant in the podcast. It may be best to begin with 5-10 minutes of small talk with your interviewee to break the ice and develop a comfort level between you and the scholar you are interviewing. Furthermore, this allows you to conduct a sound check to ensure all equipment is sufficient and properly working.  

Then, start talking! Use the first few minutes for small talk to both do your sound check and also set your interviewee at ease. When you are ready to record, it won’t feel like a big deal or a real change to press “record” and steer the conversation towards the interview questions (with one stilted thirty second window for introductions, of course). Follow the outline agenda you have set, but do not feel constrained by the preparation you have done. Let the conversation flow naturally.

In the event your equipment is not properly working at the scheduled start time of your podcast, seek help from the library technicians outside of the Alkek YouStar studio facilities. You might have to redo parts of the recording, and possibly cobble bits together in post. That is fine; that’s why we have a post-recording edit session anyway!

The following segments are copied directly from the handbook:

No matter how amazing you are at interviewing, you are going to want to edit your recording for time, content, and audio quality. This is also when you can add things like a title card or stock introduction.

Things to remove: long awkward pauses, coughing fits, door slams, sentence stumbles that are corrected (e.g., say the interviewee starts a sentence, get tongue-tied, and starts over. It would be very kind of you to take out the stumble at the beginning and just have the part where the interviewee sounds eloquent!). Basically, anything the audience doesn’t need to hear.

Things to add: a title slide (for video) or stock oral introduction (both audio and video).

Audio Editing

After every single step you take, take a moment to listen to the audio and make sure you’re not going the wrong direction!

The rough cut:

  • Get rid of awkward pauses, sneezes, chair creaks, door slams, etc. This can take a surprisingly long time! You will have to listen through every minute of the recording and pause and either mark or cut all those little bits. If your episode is 45 minutes long, allot at least 5 hours for this.
  • Check the volume. You may need to increase or decrease the volume across the board if the mic levels were high or low. As long as everything is quite literally in the green, then you’re fine.

The clean cut:

  • 'Normalize' everything. Ctrl+A and “normalize.” This will make the quiet parts boost up a bit and the extra loud bits tone down a bit. After this step, you may choose to boost volume in specific spots. The loudest parts should not be allowed to peak past –6dB (for context, the scale you are looking at will go from about –54 to 0).
  • Noise repair. Any audio editing software will have something called “noise reduction” that is ideal for taking out persistent sounds like air conditioners. It works like this: highlight 3-5 seconds of dead air; click on “noise reduction” under “effects,” and then “get noise print” or “get noise profile,” something like that. Then, highlight everything else that you want to clean up, click “noise reduction” again, and click “ok” to remove the noise!

Video Editing   

After every single step, take a moment to listen to watch the clip and make sure you’re not going the wrong direction!

The rough cut:

  • Get rid of awkward pauses, sneezes, chair creaks, door slams, etc. This can take a surprisingly long time! You will have to listen through every minute of the recording and pause and either mark or cut all those little bits. If your episode is 45 minutes long, allot at least 5 hours for this.
  • Have a green screen and want a background? This is a great time to crop the video and use the chromakey to put up the background.
  • Do the audio editing separately, and follow the steps above for the “clean cut” (the rough cut will have been done here in video editing).

The clean cut:   

  • Get artsy. Do you want to pan shots? Do you want to use B-reel as the interview talks over scenes or slides?
  • Add title cards and end cards.

Content Editing

What to cut: anything irrelevant, anything awkward stops & silences, shorten rants.

What to add: slating (a verbalized title card) at the beginning, and an outro at the end.

What to edit/change/tweak: if you had to cobble together a couple of clips, listen to at least two entire minutes on both ends of the seam to ensure everything makes sense. If the origin of an inside joke got lost, then that needs to be remedied somehow. You must decide if you want to cut that joke, or if you want to add a vocal insert explaining the joke. This isn’t a bad thing – tech issues happen all the time. Just acknowledge that there is a gap in recording, say your piece, and move forward.

The following segments are copied directly, and modified slightly, from the handbook:

Publishing the Episode

After you make the episodes, they have to go somewhere. Just like any scholarly communication, deciding where to publish your work is an important step. You should think about it early on, but no matter what, once you have the recording made and the release form signed, it’s time to put your episode into the world! This section will cover how to pick a host platform, how to get the episode into the university’s digital repository, and what social media can do for you.

The first step to all of this: make your project a dedicated email address. You will have to make many accounts that require an email, and you don’t want to be stuck with your PI’s email in case they leave the university or the project or whatever else. Once you have the dedicated email address, you can make all kinds of other accounts to share your work.

Host Platforms

There are dozens of public platforms for podcasts, including (but certainly not limited to!) Spotify, Pocket Casts, Apple, Transistor, Resonate, Podbean, Captivate, and RSS.com. Many offer free accounts to make a distribute a podcast. Some offer monetization programs, either through ad revenue or a sliver of subscription fees from listeners. Do you want to scatter a very wide net, or just stick to a few places? Also, if you have a video component, consider making a YouTube or Vimeo account.

Social media

The best way to get your publicly available podcast out into the world and into your audience’s ears is by promoting it on social media. You’ve made a dedicated email for the platforms, so use that email to make some social media accounts as well! You can stick to the big names like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or you can also branch out into socials like Mastodon that try to compete with the bigger names but have smaller followings.

When using social media (and the public platforms), make sure to use tags. These apply metadata to your work to help organize it and help users find it with search terms. If anyone searches those terms in the search bar of, say, Twitter, then they might find our podcast!

Academic repositories and more

If you are making an academic/educational podcast, and it is made by students, faculty, or staff at the university, featuring (in some cases) other academics at the university, it definitely belongs in the library’s digital repository. Message the appropriate librarian (who will often work in the archives or in digital collections or something of that ilk) and go through their process to get your recording, notes, and descriptive statement put into the digital archive and/or repository.

When adding to the repository, you as a practicing academic will probably want to get an ORCID iD. An ORDIC iD is a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers with similar names. You can connect it with your professional information, like affiliations, grants, publications, peer review work, and more.

Obtain your Orcid iD

Finally, at TXST, we also have YuJa, the video making and sharing platform. It pairs well specifically with Canvas and other learning management systems (LMSs, or CMSs – course management systems). YuJa is a wonderful tool – you can add information and tags to your video, add captions and a transcript, there are no commercials, and it’s siloed within TXST. Any video can be made “public” within the TXST community, so professors can grab your podcast episode and share it on their class’s Canvas site!

The following content is copied directly and modified slightly from the handbook:

Reach out to individual departments on campus and try to get a promotional flyer onto the informational TVs. In addition, contact local radio stations and see if they will announce promotional material, such as a sound bite. Write to departmental blogs and the University Star. Reach out to the public library. Ask your friends and family and give a listen - word of mouth is always powerful. Leverage those social media accounts to reach a wider audience. Remember, every successful podcast you like started with just a couple of listeners.

Dr.

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Elizabeth Hambleton
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