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Listen up

Here’s some audio from the “any other sort of entry” category of this week’s module requirements. It’s the new episode of a podcast I co-host called GameOn! If you’re a video-game fan, you might like it; otherwise, listen to the intro and skip ahead to 23:18 where I briefly talk about the program.

[podcast]http://audio.dispatch.com/podcasts/GameOn/GameOn196.mp3[/podcast]

I sound a little fuzzy because we were recording via Skype. Normally, we would meet at the newspaper where we have a makeshift studio, but we’re trying a different format, so there will probably be a few bugs to work out.

If you’re interested in how this was put together, read on.

GameOn! grew out of conversations I was having with Shawn Sines when I was copy editing the Connect tech section for the Dispatch and Shawn was writing freelance game reviews (he was part of the paper’s IT staff at the time). I’d read about podcasting in late 2004 and it struck me that our weekly conversations about Shawn’s reviews might make a good show. We pitched the idea and there wasn’t a lot of interest among the editors, but we decided to try it anyway. I developed an RSS feed by hand and we began recording to a laptop with a $10 mic I picked up somewhere. The first show went up Feb. 14, 2005, making the Dispatch the first newspaper to launch a podcast. A couple months later, we were mentioned on NPR and the linked to from a Wall Street Journal Online piece.

The equipment we use and the process of putting the podcast together have evolved over the years. I have been using some inexpensive microphones, a small mixing board and a digital recorder to capture the raw audio. (We also have a digital hybrid box to pipe phone calls into the board.) The audio file is then transferred to a laptop where the intro and outro is added in Garageband and any editing takes place. I then output the file into iTunes (where it is in Apple’s AAC format) and it is then converted to an mp3. (I used to record directly into Garageband with the digital recorder as a backup, but we increasingly encountered problems with that system and I haven’t figure out how to resolve them, so the backup recording device became the primary and we’re working without a net again.)

We use a 98 kbp setting (48 kbps mono) with a sample rate of 44.100 kHz. This retains most of the sound quality and still keeps the file size fairly small (about 10MB for this episode, which was about 26 minutes).

For the Skype arrangement, we captured the audio with Skype Recorder. (There are a number of options for this. I’m also experimenting with using Audio Hijack, but didn’t have that ready when we sat down last night.) This creates an mp3 file that I was able to bring directly into Garageband. The audio was split with Shawn on one channel and me on the other, but when I did the final conversion to mono, that problem took care of itself. I expect the sound quality to vary based on the throughput of the broadband connections and various headsets. But no one expects this to be NPR.

The player on this page is provided via a WordPress plug-in called … wait for it … Podcasting. I tried to use a similar flash player, but it didn’t seem to want to work on this page, for some reason.

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One Response

  1. e-mickann says:

    Wow this is really awesome. I have always wanted to co-host a show. I am not a big gamer by my other half is. I know this is something he would love listening to. I think for Skype it actually sounds amazingly clear. Thanks for posting on how to do this. Something I definitely want to give a try.