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Blogtalk Radio Podcasts

This article is my opinion and review of Blogtalk Radio, and how it can make podcasting a lot easier. Podcasts are usually MP3 files, which are usually smaller than music files, because they are encoded at a smaller sampling rate than music files; because reproducing a person speaking does not require as much bandwidth as a high-quality music file. I am a judgment broker who writes and podcasts a lot.

A podcast is a digital computer-related audio file which is nearly identical to a music file. Like music files, podcasts are binary files with encodings that represent sounds. Podcasts are stored, moved, and are about the same size as music files. However with podcasts, some bits are twiddled inside the files, to make podcasts and music files behave differently in many audio/music players and programs, including iTunes.

Of course, after you create your podcast, you will want people to be able to easily find and listen to it. While you could try to charge for your podcasts, with very few exceptions, this is more than difficult to accomplish.

Besides wanting to, the top reasons to create or continue a podcast is to get a tiny bit of recognition, or to advertise some other business or entity you want to promote. For example, a photography podcast might help advertise the podcaster's books, DVDs, or classes. Most podcasts do not begin with, or will ever have, paying advertisers.

Most people will do best to start and probably keep, distributing their podcasts for free. When your podcast is free, you will want to host it on at least one internet server to help distribute it. Apple's iTunes store is the first and best way to make your podcasts easy to find. BlogTalk Radio is the second best way.

Putting your podcasts on the iTunes store is not as simple as it should be. Does Apple import your MP3 podcasts into the Apple iTunes server? No, your podcasts must be hosted on an external server. However, if you host your podcasts on your own web site or most servers, and then follow the prompts in iTunes to put your free podcast in the iTunes store; you will probably get a "your server does not have byte-range iTunes support" error.

People who host their web sites on shared machine servers, are usually not allowed to launch or run long-running server processes on shared hosting environments, such as additional server software or daemons. For byte-range support, Mod_deflate is usually supported in Apache, and that might work. Requiring byte-range support is a big headache, and Apple is big enough to store small podcast MP3s on their server or cloud; or perhaps Apple IOS and OSX hardware/software could support non-streaming servers someday.

Instead of hoping and waiting for Apple to change, I found an easy solution with BlogTalk Radio (BTR). BTR has a free account level where you can host live internet radio shows, or pre-record and upload your podcasts as startup files. BTR either distributes your podcasts to the Apple iTunes store, or makes it very easy for you to. If you use BTR a lot, their $400 a year premium level is the best bang for the buck, and it lets you edit your previous shows too.

How can you create your own podcasts? One way is using BTR to automatically create your podcast when you do your live show. You can upload music or speaking selections, to play on your live show. When your show concludes, your podcast will be on BTR's server, and there is an option to send it to iTunes, and then you will be podcasting. BTR's site and iTunes sync to BTR's servers, have been occasionally slow. Despite that, I very strongly recommend Blogtalk Radio.

With podcasts, until you are popular, it is best to stick to solid information and being helpful, and good vibes are a good idea. A 15-minute interesting podcast is better than a half hour boring one. It is a good idea to break up long monologs with music breaks or fun commercials for you or your friends.

Be careful not to include copyrighted music on your podcasts. While copyright issues are beyond the scope of this article, one suggestion is to ask your friends to let you include their music, in exchange for plugging their site or band on your podcast. Another possible option might be to pick very old (and not so popular) music that is most likely in the public domain, from the 1920s to early 1940s. Try a web search for "public domain music".

Besides BTR, another way to make podcasts is with your computer. I have found my flat-screen iMac to have such good built-in audio, I just talk to my iMac, and the sound quality is good. You can record sound files using Apple's QuickTime Player Pro or the equivalent on your computer. You also need a sound editor, on the Mac I recommend Amadeus. The best way to have guests and callers is with Skype and a sound recording program such as Call Recorder. Interviews and monologs improve with editing to remove coughs, clicks, breathing sounds, etc.

You can make a MP3 file of your entire podcast, and upload it to BlogTalk Radio; and set it to automatically start, and then your entire "live" show can be pre-recorded. This works well if your show/podcast is new and does not have any live callers. I have found Blogtalk Radio to be the easiest and best way to create podcasts. BTR offers room for growth with live telephone and Skype callers, and includes easy integration into iTunes.


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