Learn Podcasting Inexpensively

Using Minimal Hardware & Free Software.



This tutorial assumes that you use a WinTel platform.
Podcasts can be created using other platforms as well.


is a

Podcasting makes audio and/or video files available online for downloading via an automatic "feed." You can then hear and/or view a podcast whenever you want from your computer or a compatible, portable media player. See NPR Podcast Directory HELP.

A podcast is an audio or video file or series of such files that is "broadcast" on a one time or regular or sporadic schedule to your computer where it is stored and available for you to listen to or watch at your convenience. You can download and listen to one such file or you can subscribe to a series of related files which are automatically downloaded as soon as you launch your podcatcher.

A podcast can be a traditional radio or TV program or movie, but it can also be a series of educational tips on a particular subject, regular newscasts, or someone's sporadically scheduled blog. A blog is a "web log" where the authors) pontificate on anything and everything that personally and often politically interests them to do so.

Yahoo! Podcasts has brief, clear explanations of podcasting: What is Podcasting?, Find 'em., and Listen to 'em.

Watch the podgrunt video So What's A Podcast? that clearly illustrates what podcasting is all about.

Check out the podCast411 Blog, the site that many consider to be the world's best podcast site.

Peruse the University of Calgary Podcasting Wiki.

Read the excellent Wikipedia Introduction to Podcasting.




Podcasting is Fun!!

For the receiver, podcasting is a way to create your own tailor made multimedia "newspaper".

For the distributor, it is a way to continuously or periodically publish content to a targeted audience.

Podcasts may well be the single most important educational innovation of the last decade.

Podcasts are part of the paradigm shift to Web 2.0 broadcasting and distribution of concepts and information.

Check out the brilliant video response to Web 2.0, Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us for an amazing video.

Audio and video files have been accessible on web sites for years, but a podcast is different because you may subscribe to it, which means that it will automatically be sent from its source to your "podcatcher" when it is posted. It is called "push" technology because it pushes itself onto your computer rather than waiting for you to go to its site and "pull" it. Rather than passively waiting for you to make a conscious decision to click and download a file, a podcast assertively pushes its way onto your computer long after you gave it permission through subscription to do so. Like subscribing to a magazine, rather than making a conscious effort to go to the store to buy an issue, issue after issue gets sent upon publication.



Use A
Pod Catcher
(aka RSS
To Retrieve

Online Podcaster Managers

A couple months after doing this section, I came upon the clearest explanation of pod catching that I had yet seen, wordsmithed by people who did the Jim Lehrer Online NewsHour. I subsequently (April 5, 2007) inserted that explanation into the following white box below.

RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) feeds are free updated content sent to your computer via the Internet. RSS feeds usually contain headlines, article summaries, and links to full articles on the Web site of the organization that sends the feed.

RSS is an easy way for you to be alerted when content that interests you appears on your favorite Web sites. Instead of visiting a particular Web site to browse for new articles and features, RSS automatically tells you when something new is posted online.

RSS feeds are delivered to your computer and viewed using an "aggregator" or "reader." The reader displays RSS feeds from the Web sites you select, enabling you to choose and edit the content that you want to see.

After installing the RSS reader, you can add new RSS feeds from any Web site that offers them.

There are dozens of RSS readers available; many are offered free of charge. Some readers are available as desktop software that you download and install on your computer. Others are Web-based readers that you can access on the Internet.

Both Google and About.com list many of the available RSS readers.

The reader you choose will have instructions for how to subscribe to RSS feeds.

A podcatcher is a newsreader type program which may be set to continuously run in the background while a computer is on. It implements subscriptions to resources on the web by periodically (perhaps hourly) checking for new URIs [URI = Uniform Resource Identifier] at web sites preselected by the user. A URI may identify many types of files, such as a text, sound, image or video file.

There are many podcatching applications. Some run online and others offline.

Google Reader and Yahoo! Podcasts manage podcasts online. The advantage to online podcast management is that it may be accessed from any computer.

iTunes is the best "free" jukebox software available today (April 4, 2007). It also incorporates offline podcatching software and a whole lot more. Since iTunes is arguably the best podcatcher at the time of creating this tutorial (February, 2007), this tutorial explains how to use it. Later, as you become comfortable with podcasting, you may switch to a different podcatching application.

You can subscribe to and listen to podCasts with other applications, but start with iTunes because it's user interface is easy to use and it is free to download. Go here to install iTunes.

  1. Navigate to your c: directory and create a subdirectory called "dl" --> short for "download". By initially saving everything that you download from the Internet, you will always know precisely where to look for downloaded files.

  2. Navigate into the c:\dl directory and create a subdirectory called "iTunes". This is where you will save the iTunes setup file that you download. Setup files often have weird, cryptic, names that are difficult to attach to a particular application. By saving the downloaded file in a directory with a clearly understood label, you will easily recognize the contents of the directory in the future by its clear label.

  3. Launch a browser and navigate to iTunes download site. Note that iTunes is free. If you ever see a site that tries to charge for it, and there are such sites on the Internet, then ignore such sites because Apple itself does not charge for this software.

  4. Select the platform that you are using by clicking on the appropriate radio button. If you use a WinTel platform, then click the button beside the label that says something like "Windows 2000 or XP".

  5. Remove the check marks from the check boxes and do not give your email address unless you want gobs of advertising dumped into your email account. [Alternatively, you should have an email address that you use exclusively for this sort of thing where you can ignore unwanted spam that will be dumped into it.]

  6. Click the button labelled [Download iTunes ^^^^ - free].

  7. When asked if you want to run or save this file, click the [Save] button. That way you can reinstall the software in the future without having to find and download it again.

  8. When prompted for a location to save the file, navigate to the directory "c:\dl\iTunes" and click the [Save] button.

  9. After the iTunes setup file is saved, navigate to the "C:\dl\iTunes" directory and run the iTunesSetup.exe file by clicking on it.

  10. Make careful selections when installing the software. Be careful especially when prompted to use iTunes as the default player for audio files. You may prefer to run your audio files from WinAmp or MS Media Player or another similar product.



Listen To


Subscribe and listen to podcasts without charge using iTunes. Be vigilant when using iTunes however. The subscription price for most podcasts is free, but there is a charge for some podcasts and Apple does charge for other products such as songs and videos advertised through iTunes. Never submit credit card information unless you make an explicit decision to purchase a product.

Be forwarned:     Media files, be they audio or video, are huge files typically consumming many megabytes per file!

The following steps for managing, locating, subscribing and listening to a podcast were lifted word-for-word from an Apple tutorial at Multimedia Tutorials.

Managing your podcasts

In the podcast settings window you can select how many episodes of a particular podcast you will keep in iTunes. From the pull-down menu, you can select All episodes, All unplayed episodes or a specific number of episodes that you want to keep. Also, you can click the Unsubscribe button in the Source list to stop having new episodes of a specific podcast downloaded to iTunes.

What’s the difference between Internet radio, audiobooks, and podcasts?

Unlike Internet radio and audiobooks, podcasts are subscription-based and use the RSS 2.0 file format. By subscribing to podcasts you get to listen to up-to-date content where and when you want.

Locating your downloaded podcasts

To quickly access the podcast page from the iTunes music store, click Podcasts in the source list and then at the bottom of the page, click Podcast Directory.

Steps To Subscribe and Listen To A Podcast In iTunes.
  1. Make sure you have the latest iTunes software installed, open iTunes and select Music Store in the Source list.

  2. Click the Podcasts link or select Podcasts from the Genre pull-down menu to browse the featured podcasts within the iTunes Music Store.

  3. Select a podcast that sounds interesting by clicking it.

  4. A list of podcast episodes will appear.

  5. Double-click any episode to listen to the entire podcast if you wish.

  6. If you like what you hear, click the Subscribe button to have iTunes automatically download episodes of this podcast to your computer.

  7. Click Podcast in the Source list to see the Settings button on the bottom. You can use the Settings button to indicate how often you want to check for new episodes.

  8. You may view and download past podcast episodes. To do this, select Podcasts within the Source list and click the arrow to the left of the podcast name. iTunes will reveal all downloaded and available episodes. To download a particular past episode, click the Get button.



Other Podcast Links

Other podcast links not regisitered with Apple's iTunes store may be managed from within itTunes after clicking Podcasts --> Advanced --> Subscribe to Podcast... --> Paste the URL to the .xml podcast file. The precise URL is usually given one way or the other on a website, such as the associated URL for this web page at the top of this screen. Scientific American gives excellent advice from its Podcast Help Page.

  • Science Talk: Join host Steve Mirsky each week as he explores the latest developments in science and technology through interviews with leading scientists and journalists.

  • 60-Second Science: Tune in every weekday for quick reports and commentaries on the world of science-- it'll just take a minute.

The latest updates, in-depth reports, interviews and analysis from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (Updated every weeknight)

The Republic is an influential work of philosophy and political theory by the Greek philosopher Plato, written in approximately 360 BC.

Big ideas offers lectures on a variety of thought-provoking topics which range across politics, culture, economics, art history, science .... By nature of its lecture format, pacing and inquisitive approach, it is the antithesis of the prevailing sound-bite television norm. The simple, bold concept is a victory of substance over style. Big ideas airs Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00 pm PM EST on TVO - Canada's largest educational broadcaster.

Audio content from The Economist magazine, including interviews with hournalists and experts on world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

James Barron, a reporter at The New York Times, summarizes the top headlines every weekday morning.

Podiobooks.com Free serialized audio books.
NPR Podcast Directory National Public Radio (NPR)


Buy A
With A
To Record
Sound &
Head Phones
To Listen

While a microphone and speakers can be purchased separately, most audiophiles prefer a microphone attached to a set of headphones. This allows you to move your head while recording your voice and yet maintaining the same distance between your mouth and the microphone, as opposed to a separate microphone that sits on a desk. Headphones are preferred over stand alone speakers so that you can listen privately and quietly without disturbing others.

You can buy headphones with an attached microphone in most stores that sell computer accessories.

When making electronic (or other) purchases, one always seeks the "sweet spot", the price where a product that still addresses your needs gives you the biggest bang for your buck. This is a moving target with rapid changes in technology. Yesterday's Lamborghini is today's Volkswagen.

A monaural (not stereo) single headphone with an attached microphone starts at about $20, but you are well advised to pay an extra $10 - $15 for the "sweet spot" and get two headphones that play stereo with an attached microphone. See below for several examples of what is available in Calgary.


4 Feb
Monaural - Not Stereo: Cyber Acoustics AC-101 Headset With a Single Earphone And Boom Microphone

4 Feb
Stereo: Altec Stereo Headphone With Microphone


4 Feb

Stereo: Logitech Internet Chat Headset with Microphone

  • In-line volume / mute controls
  • Noise-canceling microphone blocks unwanted sound
  • Behind-the-head style headband
  • Four interchangeable color face plates
  • 9-foot cable


& Edit

Click to download Audacity.

Dan Eliot's Tutorial on how to open and edit a WAV file: [csg] [web]

Dan Eliot's Tutorial on how to save a file in an MP3 format: [csg] [web]

Audacity Manual
With Tutorials:
[csg] [web]

Daniel James
How To Mix A Multi track Project
[csg] [web]

Tell Audacity which output (sound card driver) and input (microphone) device you will use. Click Edit --> click Preference... --> click tab Audio I/O -->. Under Playback, click the drop down menu and select your output device. --> Under Recording, click the drop down menu and select your output device and select the number of channels that you will record, usually only one channel is use at this point. --> Click OK.

Plug the microphone and speaker cables into your computer. Read the directions!

Put on your headset and away you go. Play with Audacity's buttons and menu functions to see what happens.

Click to record. Click to stop. Click to play.

Audacity is a free, multi-platform. easy-to-use sound editor and recorder. Audacity's website, in describing what Audacity is about, states that you can use Audacity to:
  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • Record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or min. With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.
  • Import sound files, edit them, and combine them with other files or new recordings.
  • Export your recordings in several common file formats.
  • Powerful editing functions.
  • Effects allowing changes to pitch, background noises, frequencies, volume and special effects.
  • Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies and a Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.
Click here to download the latest version of Audacity.



Import Sound
Into Audacity

Click here to download free sounds.

Sample and download any of 20,000 sounds available at The Freesound Project. Then, in Audacity, click Project --> click Import Audio... --> select the sound file that you want to import --> click Open... --> click the Play button.



rss Feed File


An RSS file is a text file containing information about the podcast.

A Good Tutorial About RSS Is:
Fagain Finder: All About RSS

Click here for an explanation of RSS from Windows Explorer Help.

You must create an .rss "feed" file. It is formatted as an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file so that it can work with a browser. It must be uploaded to a web site along with the multimedia files(s) that you wish to broadcast. The feed file has the extension ".rss", which stands for really simple syndication.

XML is a script "mark up" language. Like its predecessor HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), elements of "information" are bracketed by pairs of tags. The tags determine what is to be done to the information lying between them. The left tag is the opening tag. The right tag is the closing tag.

In HTML and XML the opening tag starts with a "less-than" character < and ends with a "greater-than" character >. The closing tag also starts with a "less-than" character < but ends with a "slash" followed by a "greater-than" character />. Thus, for example, the tag to make all following text bold is an opening tag with a "b" in it; followed by the text to be bolded; followed by the a closing tag which also has a "b" in it. <b>The fonts of this text will appear in bold on a web page. </b>

An RSS file is a specialized XML file with tags tailored to indicate the types of information needed by a podcatcher.

There follows an example of a .rss XML file. In HTML and XML comments intended to be read by humans and not software are bracketed by the "comment tags" <!-- and -->. An opening comment tag is a "less-than character" + exclamation mark + two dashes. A closing comment tag is two dashes followed by a "greater-than character". Such comments are used in the example below to explain the meaning of each set of tags.

See the Technology at Harvard Law for clear explanations of RSS elements.

To create your own XML, RSS feed file, copy and paste the code below into a text editor and replace information in red with your own information.

Explanations of the RSS elements are given in green. Comments are not used by a browser. They are strictly for human eyes only, so you may delete or omit the comments after you understand the tags.

A popular easy-to-use editor with nice features for programming HTML and XML scripts is TextPad.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<!-- Identifies the files as RSS 2.0 files. -->
<rss version="2.0"

       <!-- Indicates the start of information about the podcasting feed. -->

       <!-- This is the actual title of the podcast as seen by the end user. -->
       <title>Computer Science at Churchill High</title>

       <!-- The URL (Internet web address) where the podcast is located. -->

       <!-- A description of this particular episode. -->
       <description>Courses and Content of Computer Science at SWCH</description>

       <!-- "English-Canadian": Allows podcatchers to group sites by language. -->

       <!-- Year of copyright -->

       <!-- Creator of the file, not necessarily the podcast author. -->
       <generator>Gerry Donaldson</generator>

       <!-- Last date that the podcast files were modified. -->
       <!-- Uses military time: the 24 hour clock. -->
       <!-- Time zone is number of hours (-0700) from GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). -->
       <lastBuildDate>Fri, 9 Feb 2007 11:10:35 -0700</lastBuildDate>

       <!-- Contact information for the webmaster of the website hosting the podcast. -->

       <!-- "Time to Live" = tells podcatchers how often to check -->
       <!-- (in terms of minutes) whether a new feed is available. -->

       <!-- Starts section detailing the actual podcast feed information. -->

             <!-- Title of the podcast or a particular episode of a serial podcast. -->
             <title>Term 3 Courses</title>

             <!-- Describes the podcast or particular episode of a serial podcast. -->
             <description>Courses Available February 1</description>

             <!-- Name of the person(s) who created the content. -->
             <author>Joe Blow and Jane Doe</author>

             <!-- Date and time that the podcast was actually posted to the website. -->
             <!-- Uses military time: the 24 hour clock. -->
             <!-- Time zone is number of hours (-0700) from GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). -->
             <pubDate>Fri, 9 Feb 2007 11:10:35 -0700</pubDate>

             <!-- The link to the file that the podcatching software will download. -->
             <!-- The file's "length" is measured in terms of bytes. -->
             <!-- The files's "type" describes the precise type of file to be downloaded. -->
             <enclosure url="http://www.comscigate.com/podcasts/swc.mp3"
                          length="24392172" type="audio/mpeg"/>

       <!-- Ends section detailing the actual podcast feed information. -->

       <!-- Indicates the end of information about the podcasting feed. -->




Upload Your Podcast To A Webhosting Service

Your podcast files may be stored on any site where you can store an ordinary web page.

It is as simple as 1 .. 2 .. 3.

  1. Copy your rss/xml file (myrss.xml) to a directory. Note the xml extension.
  2. Copy your multimedia file(s) to a directory. These have extensions like mp3.
  3. Create a link to your rss/xml file, which might look like:
<a href="http://www.comscigate.com/podCasting/pod/learnPodcasting.xml">Learn Podcasting</a>


Buy A
Web Cam
To Record
Audio & Video

A webcam (web camera) is an affordable video camera that records video and sound.

While popular for communicating over the web, web cams can also save recorded video and sound to a file, which is usually an "AVI" (Audio Video Interleave) file. While other types of files take less space, AVI files remain popular as a lowest common denominator format for the many software products that play audiovideo files.

That said, AV buffs debate the merits of different types of audiovideo files. WMV (Windows Media Video) is used by Windows Movie Maker (see below). MPEG4 is a very popular format as well. There is software that converts files of one format into files of another format. Format does matter, depending upon the software that your target audience may have, whether you will distribute your movie over the web, save it digitally to a CD or DVD, or record it to video tape.


17 Feb
Logitech QuickCam Messenger (OEM): Shoot high-quality videos and photos at up to 640x480 resolution. Frame rate: Up to 30 frames per second.

17 Feb
Dynex 0.3M Webcam(DX-DTCAM)



17 Feb

Logitech Quickcam Orbit MP

It features a black, ball-shaped camera that sits atop a nine-inch-high stand at your eye level.

When you move, it actually follows you around! The QuickCam Orbit mechanically and automatically turns left and right for almost a 180-degree horizontal view or up and down for almost 90 degree top-to-bottom view. So your smiling face will always stay in the picture.



Record & Edit
Video With
Movie Maker

Click to download Windows Movie Maker 2.1 for XP.

Movie Maker 6 is included with Windows Vista Premium and Vista Ultimate editions.

If you can drag and drop, you can use Movie Maker!

Movie Maker is powerful and easy to use. Within the first hour after installing it, I imported video of my whitewater rafting day in Victoria Falls when visiting Zimbabwe in the summer of 2003. The video included scenes that I really didn't want and I wanted to rearrange the ones that I did like.

I have also used Movie Maker with my webcam to record movie segments of myself chatting at my computer. Thrilling stuff!!

While videocams usually come with their own software for capturing audiovideo to file, Movie Maker has its own software for this as well. You can either use the webcam software and later import your AVI file into Windows Movie Maker, or you can use Movie Maker itself to capture your live audiovideo to a file that may be later edited as you prefer.

To record live AV using Windows Movie Maker, Movie Maker has a "Video Capture Wizard" that lets you choose the video (webcam maybe) and audio (microphone) devices that you will use to capture your movie. Then you simply click on a Start Capture button to start the capture and click on a Stop Capture button to stop the capture. It really is that easy!

I found it amazingly easy to just drag and drop segments that I wanted to include in my "movie" onto a story board at the bottom of the screen, and to simply omit segments that I didn't want.

After rearranging only scenes that I wanted , I applied several of sixty different "transitions" between scenes - again just dragging and dropping them to the storyboard. The length of time of the transitions was precisely adjusted by clicking and dragging markers in the "timeline". A click of the mouse replaced the scrolling storyboard at the bottom of the screen with a scrolling time line.

Segments (clips) are easily split in the timeline by positioning a marker and selecting Clip|Split!

I then applied various "visual effects" from among more than two dozen included with Movie Maker - again dragging and dropping them on the storyboard. Text is easily added, frames of which also get placed on the storyboard.

Adding narration to sildent segments of my video, such as title screens, was a matter of simply clicking a button labelled "Start Narration", yap away through my microphone and, when done, simply click another button labelled "Stop Narration".

If you have Windows XP installed on your computer, then check whether MS Movie Maker 2.1 is already installed. On my XP installation, I found it after mousing my way through Start --> All Programs --> Accessories --> Entertainment --> Windows Movie Maker. If you don't have Movie Maker on your computer but your computer is running under the Windows XP operating system, then you can install MS Movie Maker 2.1 by installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

If you have Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate installed on your computer, then you will find MS Movie Maker 6 already installed. It is designated as version 6 to align the version number with the version of the new Windows operating system.

Microsoft Web Pages Related to Movie Maker 2.1

Reviews of Vista Movie Maker 6



Podcast Tutorials

These tutorials teach you how to podcast.



Educational Podcasting

The following quote was downloaded from KidCast: Podcasting in the Classroom on April 4, 2007. This is a commercial product and this is their commercial blurb. I have not used nor otherwise evaluated this product personally. It is depicted here so that learners may be aware of this sort of product.

Podcasting is the next wave in creative communication allowing anyone with audio recording software and an Internet connection to begin producing their own audio programs. Your podcast can highlight your classroom, your community, your curriculum, or just about anything you and your students can dream up. Podcasting is a great way for teachers and students to reinforce what they are learning and share their own unique voices with the world.
Podcasting can also support your classroom by offering thousands of unique audio programs produced by public radio stations, museums, subject area experts, educators and creative individuals. You can subscribe to these programs for free and download them for playback on your computer or on a portable music player. Podcasts can provide you with curriculum support, professional development and hours of free entertaining content.


Podcasting Kit

Podcast Factory

The following quote was downloaded from M-Audio Podcast Factory on April 4, 2007. This is a commercial product and this is their commercial blurb. I have not used nor otherwise evaluated this product personally. It is depicted here so that learners may be aware of this sort of product.

The Podcast Factory combines all the hardware and software you need to easily record, edit and publish professional-sounding podcasts. Create sophisticated radio-style productions that integrate speech, music, and sound effects. The included software even processes your MP3 files and automates web publishing of RSS 2.0 feeds. Designed with the same M-Audio technology used in recording studios around the world, Podcast Factory gives you both the professional sound quality and creative tools to produce stellar podcasts that keep your listeners coming back for more.

On April 4, 2007 when I checked for pricing on both Canadian and American websites, the best price that I found was at Electronics on Amazon.com.


Audio Recorder

Digital Audio Recorder

The following quote was downloaded from M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 on April 4, 2007. This is a commercial product and this is their commercial blurb. I have not used nor otherwise evaluated this product personally. It is depicted here so that learners may be aware of this sort of product.

The MicroTrack is a rugged high-fidelity mobile 2-channel digital recorder that records WAV and MP3 files to CompactFlash or microdrives—perfect for everything from professional field recording to corporate meetings, training, education and worship. Record via balanced line inputs or built-in high-fidelity microphone preamps complete with phantom power for studio-quality microphones. Connect MicroTrack to a PC or Mac via USB and simply drag and drop recordings to your computer for immediate editing or Web posting. Power derives from a lithium-ion battery, and the unit can recharge via the computer’s USB connection or USB power adapter. The MicroTrack combines quality beyond that of DAT recording with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of personal digital recorders for the ultimate solution in mobile recording.
URL:   http://www.comscigate.com/    Last Revised:  April 7, 2007