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Look who's talking

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am

I produced my first podcast last week. This medium is taking over as a more effective news vehicle for situations such as one-on-one interviews, articles of more than 1,000 words, or circumstances in which hearing the person's voice offers clues about their sincerity, enthusiasm or authority. A podcast can be listened to only by those having the wherewithal to visit a website and play the cast directly or download the file to their iPods or iTunes library. It isn't complicated, just more so than unfolding a newspaper.


The ultimate reward of podcasts is you can listen to them at your leisure and become better informed for less effort. But if your eyes are failing, you aren't fully literate or you want to be informed while your hands or eyes are busy elsewhere, this technology is just the ticket. The podcast I made was for an author who was creating a website to promote her latest novel. The podcast will enable customers to download a sample of her reading her prose. Eventually, she will have a full audio version of her book on sale from her website.


Making a podcast is simple. Making a podcast that people enjoy listening to takes a little more work. As with any technology, a few tips can make a world of difference. The actual podcast is best created using the latest version of GarageBand (www.apple.com/ilife/garageband). When you open GarageBand, it offers the option 'New Podcast Episode', which assembles all the settings a podcast requires. When the interface opens you are presented with five tracks or recording timelines. Select the appropriate voice track (male or female) and press record (the red dot down by the tape recorder controls) and you are good to go. When you are finished, press the rewind arrow, then press the play arrow to hear the result.


That's the basics. To make your podcast even better, use a professional-quality microphone. This lets you control the direction from which you are recording the sound. The last thing you want is a truck rumbling by in the middle of your report. Listen for extraneous noise and do what you can to mute it. If you or your narrator make a mistake, just rephrase the fumbled line and continue. GarageBand allows you to cut out the offending part as well as remove awkward blank portions.


Put some personality into your voice. Talk as though you are talking to another person. Edit out irrelevant or inaccurate material. GarageBand allows you to select and remove or insert voice bits - just like editing written material. Add dimension by inserting music and sound effects for backgrounds, breaks, intros or scene and subject changes. Double clicking on the Radio Sounds track allows you to add colour to your creation.


When you are done, use iWeb to post the result on your website and automatically notify your audience by e-mail that you have a new podcast report. You can also attach photos or movies so listeners will have visual entertainment as well. It doesn't take a huge imagination to see this technology replacing the family newsletter or the two-hour long-distance phone call.


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