This Is How To Run A Live Podcast Or Videocast

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how to make a podcastLet me tell you – running a live video stream and podcast every week is tough work indeed. Actually… that’s a complete lie – but don’t tell my co-hosts that because they think I’m a genius – it really couldn’t be easier.

You don’t need expensive software, you don’t need any specialized “podcast webhosting”, and it doesn’t even take that much effort to set everything up.

Hardware

Nothing special here, but a headset is a must, and if you can splash out on a decent microphone then do so; my co-hosts have been known to use USB RockBand mics before, which are actually rather good. The absolute worst thing you could do is to use the microphone and speakers built into a laptop, because your listeners will be grinding their teeth as they listen to your CPU fan and random interference.

For a few extra bucks, grab a pop filter, which will lessen the impact of plosives.

how to make a podcast

Podcast Hosting

Although your show will be going out live, you’re also going to want a recorded copy to publish via a podcast RSS feed for iTunes and other podcatchers. The easiest way to do this is with your own custom domain, and some standard web hosting running WordPress and Podpress, which will handle both audio and video, let you create separate feeds for mp3 and iTunes enhanced files, and give you the world’s favourite CMS platform to publish show notes. Beware though that hosting videos is going to use up a lot of bandwidth – for our show, the videos remain on YouTube, and the podcast feeds we publish on our site are audio only.

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how to make a podcast

You might choose to go with a specialized podcasting service or one of these new fangled “broadcast yourself instantly” apps, but I’d suggest you leave them well alone. It seems easier to start out – but you’ll be locked into their service, so when the time does come that you “make it big”, migrating to a proper hosting platform will be impossible. You’ll have advertising plastered everywhere, which you may never see any actual income from, and you certainly won’t have any control over. Don’t throw your creative value into someone else’s hands.

Running the Live Show

If it’s just you presenting alone, or along with your guests in the same room as yourself (assuming you have your own hardware mixer), there are quite a few ways you could feasibly run a live show – but instead of wasting your time with an endless list, I’m just going to tell you the best ways of doing it.

For audio only, I suggest Mixlr.com. It’s easy to set up with a cross-platform desktop broadcasting application that they provide for free; the service itself is free; and you get a built-in chatroom for listener feedback.

how to podcast

It’s designed to stream music so the quality is excellent, and you can download your previous episodes for offline editing or hosting on your own podcast feed.  Doesn’t get much simpler than this.

how to podcast

For solo video broadcasts, Justin.TV/Twitch.TV is the most popular online streaming platform, but you’ll still need a bit of software on your PC that sends the video to the service – I’d suggest FFSplit for this. It’s free, but aimed at users who want to record their desktop gaming sessions with a webcam overlay. It can both record locally and transmit live at the same time, which is convenient. If you’re using some other way to broadcast that doesn’t record locally as well, you can always download your broadcasts using this Twitch downloader tool.

For multiple presenters, in different locations, things get rather more complicated.

Mixlr will still work for multi-host audio broadcasts, but you’ll need some fairly complex technical magic to pipe your Skype audio into a single channel and send it over to the Mixlr app. Luckily for you, I wrote a tutorial on precisely that.

Multi-host video broadcasts are surprisingly easy thanks to Google’s Hangouts On Air. Hangouts is a powerful free video conferencing system available to everyone on the Google Plus social network; On Air is the newest feature that enables the Hangout to be simultaneously broadcast live to YouTube.

how to podcast

When the Hangout is over, it remains online as a regular YouTube video. For our weekly Technophilia Podcast, this has been by far the easiest way to get everything running – usually quite smoothly if everyone has a good enough internet connection. Just start the Hangout, invite your co-hosts, and make sure to check off “On Air” option at the start.

what is a podcast

You can start the live stream at any time, and the YouTube part of things is all handled automatically, saving to the account of whoever started the Hangout. You can download the video afterwards; I import the resultant mp4 video file straight into Garageband for producing the audio show. The only downside to using Hangouts is the lack of a decent chatroom, but the auto-refreshing YouTube comments can work in a pinch.

Structure

It’s not all about the software though; a lack of structure and a strong lead host can kill even the most determined podcasters. For collaborative editing of a show outline, we use Google Docs. We collate stories to discuss with links for everyone to read up on beforehand (though I get the feeling Dave never reads anything beforehand), comment on feedback from listeners and claim stories we want to take the lead on. Some of us even write our own notes on want we want to say; rarely does just “winging it” result in a good show. When you have more than one host, it’s also important that one of you take the lead – keep the show moving along, filling in the gaps and sequeing between stories.

how to make a podcast

Have you ever run a live podcast, and how did you do it? Do you have any more advice for any budding podcasters you could share in the comments?

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Comments (12)
  • TheRawNerveShow

    Great article… found it while searching for “videocast”.. adding my 2.5 cents:

    We started off using BlogTalkRadio but left due to the horrid AM-radio audio quality. We recorded all our shows separately using Audacity then compressed and uploaded clear quality shows to Podbean. We then discovered Spreaker, which at the time was a growing podcast community with lower prices per month than BTR. We jumped there and haven’t looked back. I get the whole “don’t sign up with this or that company” because of who really owns the content, but it is a much quicker way to get discovered when joining a community like that. They introduced their partnership with iHeartMedia (then iHeartRadio) and we were selected to be included on their new talk-podcast platform.

    We’re looking to branch out into the video element now. YouTube seems to be THE place to go, as there are no big videocast sites like BTR or Spreaker in the audio world.

    One really good point mentioned above is: make sure you have something outlined to talk about! Even just jotting down bulletpoints – that will help the flow of things. As was said before, it doesn’t need to be a word-for-word script, but a general outline will definitely make the flow of the show much better.

    I’ll add one thing that I didn’t see: Watch your crutch words. “Um” and “uh” is something most people say a LOT when trying to fill dead air. We recently had an interview with Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” fame. His people asked for a transcript of the interview. Once the audio was fully transcribed, the amount of “um” and “uh”‘s were astounding. And we’ve worked really hard over the years to minimize them. They just come so naturally sometimes. When you see it in black and white, it really does wake you up about how you speak.

  • BE

    We’re currently using Google Hangouts on Air – but are seeking alternatives because sometimes Hangouts has a difficult time of deciding who’s talking and therefore only allows one person to talk at a time.

    I’ll check out mixlr to see if it can bring the support we’re looking for at On Tha Mic Podcast (www.onthamic.com). Also, SoundCloud is a good way to distribute your podcast after your episode is created/edited.

    Thanks for this article – good read!

  • Charyl

    Hopefully you get comments on older articles. I would love to chat some with you on this subject. My friend and I were hosting a live weekly show a couple years ago on a local Internet Radio station. We want to start back up again and it has been suggested that a live podcast would be a better avenue to go with. I am trying to pull together helpful information to assist in doing this and this article was extremely helpful. If this is possible let me know how else I could contact you.

    • James B

      Comments work, but I’m not able to respond personally outside of comments for technical support. We do have a public forum where you can get answers though, so I would respond there along with other readers and co-workers: http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

  • EL

    If you are also saving the recording of your podcast, PLEASE only begin recording once you have all the technical stuff straightened out, and have actually begun talking.

  • Guy McDowell

    The last bit about having some sort of outline is VERY important. It doesn’t need to be a script, but it is sure better than just winging it.

    I like to think that I could do a regularly scheduled live podcast, but in reality I just keep making excuses not to.

    • MakeUseOf TechGuy

      Guy – do you fancy guesting on Technophilia at some point?

    • Guy McDowell

      I’d be honoured. Don’t know if I’d really have that much to contribute.

      You’ve got a bunch of very sharp, articulate, minds there.

    • dleclair

      Now I know you’re being facetious.

    • Guy McDowell

      No, I’m honestly not. Maybe the format isn’t exactly for NPR, but you guys know your poop.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.