Questions of a Would-be Podcaster

(This post can also be found as a guest blog post at the Association of Downloadable Media)

After 3 weeks, I’ve just wrapped up a project that had me
working alongside some great folks. One of which I’ve now…gulp…convinced to
start podcasting. This guy is a nut and really needs an outlet for all the
creativity. Whether the content of what he and a friend create will attract an
audience is obviously yet to be seen. But that’s not really the point.

For years I’ve been asked what it takes to “be on the radio.”
For those same years I’ve always given one of two answers (Three, if you count
the “What are you nuts?” answer.); go to college and get a broadcast degree with
an eye toward being a more well-rounded person and to have a fall-back or hang
out at a local radio station and get to know the people. Radio folks are pretty
open to teaching and love to help people “pay their dues.” Both answers always
came along with the “work hard, it’s not for everybody and prepare to eat a lot
of mac and cheese” warnings. It also had to sound just a bit harder than it was.
C’mon, I had to justify the fact that it’s a blast getting paid for never
really growing up.

So, when Jerome asked me, all I needed to say was, “Do you
have a computer?”

Okay, technically, podcasting isn’t broadcasting, it’s more
narrow-casting. But, you can develop the same skills and have the same fun with
a whole lot less effort. What followed were many more questions that I was
happy to say I had the answers for, thanks in part to fellow members at the
Association for Downloadable Media.

Q: What do I need for me and my buddy to do a show?
A: A computer with a decent microphone. Headsets with mics
start at like $15.00 if you’re not going to be Mr. Audiophile. If you want
better sound…go nuts.

Q: My friend lives in another state. Can we do a show together?
A: Sure, as long as your friend read the answer to question

Q: Do we need a license?
A: Nope. Heck, you barely need a license to be on the radio
these days.

Q: Can we play whatever music we want?
A: Sure thing, as long as you license any copy written music
through the likes of BMI, ASCAP and
SESAC. Most of the pricey fees are based on revenue, so until you make it big,
your fees will probably not break your bank.

Q: We’re going to do a talk show. My buddy writes music; can
we use it for free?
A: As we say in


sure, you betcha.


Q: Can we take callers?
A: Oh yeah. In fact, ADM member John Havens and his Blog Talk Radio, as well
as others specialize in just such a thing.

Q: Can we make money?
A: Sure, you’ll need an audience first. Selling advertising
can take place in many ways. From banner ads, click-throughs or endorsements
you can get some extra scratch. (If you really make it big feel free to send me
a cut.)

Q: How do I get an audience?
A: First, do the show you want. This is suppose to be fun so
don’t get caught up in the “Who am I targeting?” question to start. You can
concentrate on that stuff once you get your legs under you. Then market the
podcast. There are plenty of sites with tips on doing that including plenty of
help from ADM member Jason Van Orden.

Q: Can we say anything we want?
A: As long as you follow the guidelines of any of the services
you use. Beyond abiding by them, there are no real limitations. That includes
the famous, though legally non-existent, seven dirty words. But keep in mind,
you want an audience, not just 12 year olds who sit around and snicker.

Q: I love it when a DJ tears apart a caller on the air. Can
we do that?
A: Ah, Grasshopper, you ask a question that deals with the
expectations of the audience. If that’s one of them you want to establish, so
be it. However, you’re starting with no listeners. If you get two people that stumble
on your show and stream it, and you decide to tee off on one of them, you’ve
probably cut your audience in half….or to zero because the second person knows
they’re next.

And the questions rolled on. You can see there are plenty of
them and with the help of so many sites and individuals, whether members of the
ADM or not, they can be answered quite easily.

When last I spoke with Jerome he was off to buy his mic and
headset. What will happen with the “show” he is about to create? The world may
never know. But, if and when it happens I’ll let you know.

Better yet, you could find out for yourself…have you got a