Podcasting


Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 300

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 300In this 300th episode, Mike tells a story and shares clips from listeners like you. This episode is exactly 48:44.

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300

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 299: Matt Gurney

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 299In this 299th episode, Mike chats with Global News Radio 640 Toronto morning show co-host Matt Gurney about his years at the National Post, working with Supriya Dwivedi at 640, recent changes at the station and millennials. Matt also ranks the Star Wars movies and discusses his favourite song of all-time. This episode is exactly 2:18:22.

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Things I've Learned On My Way to 300 Podcast Episodes

Last week, I borrowed an e-book from the library. It was called "Podcasting for Dummies" and had been recently updated, so I wanted to check in and see if I could learn a thing or two. As it turns out, having digitally produced podcasts for over a decade and having rolled my own for over five years has taught me an awful lot.

As with most things in life, you learn the most from trial and error. Throw yourself into it, get your hands dirty, and figure it out. In 2006, when I helped Humble and Fred put their first podcast episode online, there were no great resources out there. You read what you could find and dove in. By the end of the day, you were a much wiser man than when you awoke that morning.

I'm about to record the 300th episode of Toronto Mike'd. There are actually 10 episodes of Your Blog Sucks sitting in the XML feed that aren't canon, so I'm technically about to record my 309th episode, but that detail isn't important. If you're interested in starting your own podcast, here's what is important.

Content May Be King, But if it Sounds Like Shit, Nobody Will Listen

I am a big substance over style guy, but when it comes to audio, how it sounds is vital. People won't listen to a poorly recorded podcast. You can record an MP3 with a $15 USB mic, but that doesn't mean you should.

I took a "go big or go home" approach to the audio, which is ironically located in the basement of my home. With consultation by Andrew Stoakley, I purchased a Mackie professional mixer and three RØDE Procaster microphones. These mics aren't cheap. In total, I spent $1600 for the mixer, microphones, stands, headphones and cables. I've since added three boom swing arms bringing the total cost of recording hardware to well north of $2000, and this does not include the laptop!

I managed to get my hands on an old Macbook which is where I do the recording and play the musical elements on a soundboard. The soundboard was $50 and I've had to replace the Macbook's hard drive, but otherwise I've kept this particular expense in check. You should be able to run the mixer through any functional laptop, regardless of the operating system.

Good News! Audio Software is Powerful and Free!

Once your studio is set up and connected to a laptop (or desktop!), you need audio recording software. This software is where you do the actual recording, editing, processing and MP3 creation. I have great news on this front. The best software for this purpose is completely free and available for all operating systems. I highly recommend Audacity.

I didn't start out using Audacity, but at some point I made the switch and I'm very glad I did. Audacity just works and the price is right. It's a podcaster's best friend.

I Choose Not to Edit

The aforementioned "Podcasting for Dummies" I read last week had a big section on editing with examples of when you'd want to edit your podcast. I can honestly say after 300+ episodes I've never edited a word for any of those reasons.

To borrow an antiquated expression, I record "live to tape". It all unfolds as you hear it. I bring in the audio elements in real-time, fading as it happens via the mixer. Once a guest or two has kindly asked me to remove something they said because they felt it might compromise their severance, and once a journalist asked me to remove a section because it violated a judge's publication ban, and if specifics were uttered, like a phone number or specific home address, I might remove that, but that's it. Otherwise, I trim the dead air at the beginning and the end and my editing is complete.

I'm not saying you shouldn't edit your content, merely that I've chosen not to edit my content. The "live to tape" approach is more fun and saves me time I don't really have.

What's In a Bit Rate?

Once the episode is recorded, I export it to MP3 via Audacity. There are many options here, and I've tried a multitude of them when it comes to bit rate. For a while, I was heavily favouring quality instead of file size, but I've since compromised a bit and settled on 160kbps. When it comes to the bit rate that makes sense for you, trial and error is the only way to go. It will all come down to a compromise you can live with between quality and size.

ID3 Metadata Tags

Many will subscribe, many will play directly from the site, but others will choose to download the MP3 file and play it locally or on their mobile device. For those people, your MP3's ID3 metadata tags are important. And by important I mean it will be annoying as hell if you don't add them when you export the audio to MP3.

I like to add as much detail here as possible, including updating the episode name to include the episode number. When it comes to ID3 metadata tags, the best practice I recommend is "the more, the merrier". There are dozens of ways to listen to your podcast and you never know which method a listener prefers.

To the Cloud With Your MP3

Once you've generated an MP3 file, you need to get it from your computer to a publicly accessible web server. My episodes are hosted by a local company called ts2 but there are plenty of options. What you need depends on a few factors:

  • the size of your files
  • the popularity of your podcast
  • your budget

At the end of this long entry, you'll learn how I can hold your hand. Getting the file from your local computer to your web server is easy. I use a free FTP client called Filezilla.

XML

Some will call it RSS, and that's cool, but it's really an XML document that will serve as the heartbeat of your podcast syndication. It's what separates audio from a podcast. An MP3 file doesn't become a podcast until you add a valid XML file.

When you submit your podcast to aggregators like Apple Podcasts or Google Play Music, they will be most interested in the url for your XML file. When you update that XML file, it alerts subscribers that you have a new episode available. This is where you share such detail as:

  • episode name
  • episode description
  • episode length
  • publication date and time
  • MP3 size
  • MP3 url
  • podcast name
  • podcast author

XML is very strict with little to no forgiveness for even the slightest error. Just yesterday I typed in 2017 instead of 2018 and broke the whole thing. In my humble opinion, this is most intimidating part of the podcast chain, but if you know the rules and follow them, it doesn't need to be scary. Heck, I've updated my XML file over 300 times and it remains perfectly valid. You can see it now at http://www.torontomike.com/torontomiked.xml. If I can do it, you can do it.

Of course, I have made mistakes, so here are a few tips I've learned along the way.

  • Do not publish your new XML file until the MP3 has finished uploading
  • Before you publish, eyeball your code - it's better to catch your typos and errors before it's uploaded to the web
  • When in doubt about XML protocol, Google it

Again, don't let XML frighten you. There are services you can buy that will auto-create one, but you lose a great deal of control going that route and it's much less fun. I highly recommend you write and maintain your own XML file, and again, I'm an expert who can help.

Your Podcast Needs a Home on the Web

With your XML submitted to Apple and Google and Stitcher and the other popular podcast aggregators, subscribers will be able to find your podcast. I'm here to tell you a big podcasting secret. Many will listen without ever subscribing to your feed!

Your podcast needs a home on the web that you maintain and control. For my podcast, that's http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/. I post every episode there, complete with an HTML5 audio player so people can click play and hear the episode. This is also convenient for those who prefer to download the MP3. It's your podcast's home on the web that you control and it's where you can link people, regardless of how they consume their podcasts.

Awareness is the Toughest Part

Many podcasters are broadcasters you know from radio and/or television, or writers you've read in the paper or magazines. In other words, they're already famous. For these people, awareness is a great deal easier.

But what about the rest of us? If you're not already famous from radio, television or elsewhere, how do you make people aware you have a podcast so they can check it out? This is very difficult, especially if you don't have a marketing budget.

I promote my podcast on my blog and via Twitter. Of course, that's merely speaking to your existing audience and doesn't do much to grow the base. In my experience, there's only one way to vastly increase download numbers and increase awareness that you have a podcast worthy of sampling. You have to create good content and stick with it for years. People love to tell their friends and family about the great indie podcast they've discovered.

On that note, let's close with the most important detail of all...

Content Really Is King

Your podcast can sound great and be around for years with new episodes posted every week, but if it sucks, nobody will want to listen. Considering a listener has to truly want to listen in order to hear a podcast, the content is more than key. It really is king.

The good news is you don't have to hit a home run your first at bat, so long as you continually improve. Hopefully, if it's compelling content, you'll find your voice by episode 100 and will be truly grooving by episode 200. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep at it. Listen to your episodes critically and work at improving the quality every time you press record.

If you're interested in starting a podcast, either for yourself or a corporate podcast, tell me about it. I'd like to help. I've broken so many eggs you can feast on omelettes until you're stuffed.

Thanks for giving Toronto Mike'd a spin. If you've yet to take the plunge, you can cherry pick an episode here. Happy podcasting!

Podcasting 101

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 298: Elliott Price

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 298In this 298th episode, Mike chats with Fan 590 morning show co-host Elliott Price about calling Expos games, working in Montreal sports radio, rolling his own and getting the call to move to Toronto. This episode is exactly 2:00:18.

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84 Podcast Guests in 2017!

Speaking of passionate hobbies I've had for over five years, Toronto Mike'd turned five years old in August. More episodes were recorded in 2017 than any calendar year previous. 86 episodes of Toronto Mike'd were recorded in 2017 (plus two bonus shorts for subscribers), comprising of 84 different guests.

So much for a weekly podcast, eh? Here are the 84 people who were kind enough to visit my basement in 2017. Actually, only 82 visited... Jesse and Gene were Skyped in from the left coast.

  1. James Mirtle
  2. Sean Fitz-Gerald
  3. Jesse Dylan
  4. Gene Valaitis
  5. Rod Smith
  6. Josh Holliday
  7. Bob Callahan
  8. Kevin Shea
  9. Maureen Holloway
  10. Craig Venn
  11. Mike Richards
  12. Greg Brady
  13. Kevin Frankish
  14. Clint "Bubba" O'Neil
  15. Barry Davis
  16. Marc Weisblott
  17. Carly Agro
  18. Faizal Khamisa
  19. Bob McKenzie
  20. Brian Williams
  21. Chris Murphy from Sloan
  22. Bill Hayes
  23. elvis
  24. Howard Berger
  25. Elliott Cowan
  26. Lou Schizas
  27. Stormin' Norman Rumack
  28. Ed "Retrontario" Conroy
  29. Liana K
  30. Ed the Sock
  31. Richard Syrett
  32. Joel Goldberg
  33. Hugh Burrill
  34. Mark Hebscher
  35. Mike Wilner
  36. Fred Penner
  37. Bob Mackowycz
  38. Siobhan Morris
  39. Ziggy Lorenc
  40. Michael Hainsworth
  41. Alan Cross
  42. Andrew Stoakley
  43. Jim Van Horne
  44. Alex Pierson
  45. Larry Fedoruk
  46. Norm Wilner
  47. Fred Patterson
  48. Ivar Hamilton
  49. Colin D'Mello
  50. Jay Onrait
  51. Sophia Jurksztowicz
  52. Laura Diakun
  53. Nick "Splash" Adams
  54. Taes "Boots" Leavitt
  55. Ron Hawkins from Lowest of the Low
  56. Lawrence Nichols from Lowest of the Low
  57. Mike Stafford
  58. Tim Thompson
  59. Jackie Perez
  60. Stephen Brunt
  61. Damien Cox
  62. DJ Ron Nelson
  63. Peter Bulut
  64. Kayla Grey
  65. Mike Hogan
  66. Jarvis
  67. Bob Willette
  68. Sarah Boesveld
  69. Brad Fay
  70. Blake Carter
  71. Paul Romanuk
  72. Stephen Stanley
  73. John Gallagher
  74. David Shoalts
  75. Alexandra Beaton
  76. Aaron Bronsteter
  77. Ed Keenan
  78. Steve Simmons
  79. Andy Maize from Skydiggers
  80. Gill Deacon
  81. Andy Frost
  82. Meredith Shaw
  83. Ron James
  84. iLLvibe

Thanks again to everyone who dropped by for a healthy dose of #realtalk. And thank you to everyone who listened to an episode or two or 297. This podcast is powered by you.

Happy new year!

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 297: iLLvibe Kicks Out the Jams!

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 297In this 297th episode, Mike and iLLvibe discuss his creation of the Toronto Mike'd theme song, our mutual buddy Mike Kic, appearing on Canada's Smartest Person and his new music before they play and discuss his ten favourite songs. This episode is exactly 1:43:26.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 296: Ron James

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 296In this 296th episode, Mike chats with stand up comedian Ron James about moving to LA, returning home to hone his craft and finding his voice. This episode is exactly 2:04:56.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 295: Celebrating Festivus with Elvis

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 295In this 295th episode, Mike celebrates Festivus with Elvis as they discuss a cornucopia of topics. This episode is exactly 2:16:22.

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Happy Festivus!

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 294: 12:36

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 294In this 294th episode, Mike chats with Marc Weisblott of 12:36 about the current state of the media in Canada. This episode is exactly 2:05:47.

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12:36

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Toronto Mike'd Listeners: Email Me Your Audio Feedback

This is a call to all listeners of Toronto Mike'd. I have a request to make of you...

Record a clip of yourself with your smartphone and email the audio file to me at mike@torontomike.com. In the subject line, just include the keyword "300".

Please introduce yourself with your name (first name or handle is fine) and location (Hi, I'm Bobby from Ajax) and a bit about what you like / dislike about Toronto Mike'd and perhaps your favourite episode ever and why. Got that?

To summarize:

  1. Record yourself with your smartphone
  2. Identify yourself (I'm Tabitha from Liberty Village)
  3. Tell me why you enjoy the show (or why you don't)
  4. Let me know your favourite episode and why
  5. Email me this audio clip - mike@torontomike.com
  6. Put "300" in the subject line

Be aware, I will use these clips in an upcoming episode. That's why I'm hoping you can record and email me these clips by midnight on December 27.

Thanks!

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