Category: podcasting

I’m always looking for a way to describe what podcasting is. Here’s what I found: Video: Podcasting in Plain English | Common Craft – Explanations In Plain English



Church Podcasting Question

I got this comment over in the comments section:

“Hi Paul,
I’m in the middle of tweeking my church’s website. I want to podcasts on it. How do you establish a podcast on the web? What steps do you have to take so that itunes can pick it up?

God Bless,
Joe Ryan”

This is what I wrote back:

The largest cost in podcasting isn’t equipment it’s bandwidth. The hardest part to create is the xml feed that turns an mp3 audio file into a podcast. So, here’s what I suggest. Use either ($5-10/per month) or (no dot com and it’s free for 100megs or 1 gig for $10/year). They’ll both auto create the xml for you. You take that file and submit it to iTunes in the iTunes store to get it listed.

Make sure you include links to the files on your site because some people prefer not to subscribe. Also put a how-to subscribe tutorial on your site so tech-challenged people can do it.


What is a Podcast?

I was in the grocery store the other day. I was alone, so instead of just walking around listening to the store’s music, I decided to turn on my iPod, put in my earbuds and listen to some podcasts.

As I went to check out, the checker asked what I was listening to. “A podcast,” I replied. She looked puzzled. “An internet delivered talk radio show,” I explained. I then went on to tell her that I never listened to the radio anymore. Because of the invention of podcasts I can listen to shows on the topics I want to listen to. It’s really like creating my own talk radio station on the topics that I want to listen to. In my case, they’re primarily tech and more specifically church tech.

That’s really the most basic answer to what a podcast is. That’s the answer I’d give anyone non-techy in my life. “A podcast is an internet delivered talk radio show.” Now, granted some are more music radio than talk, but I tend to listen to the talk shows more.

Now, for the geeky answer. Really a podcast is audio, video, or text content delivered primarily via subscription to an RSS 2.0 feed (with enclosures). Most podcasts tend to be mp3s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other types. The iPod enables listeners to subscribe to enhanced aac files which add changing album art, chapter markers, and clickable links (if listened to in iTunes). This format is less prevailant than mp3s, but exist nonetheless, especially among podcasters who use Apple Macintosh computers because of the ease of creating them with the included Garageband software.

Video podcasts are the next most common form. These take the form of mpeg-4 or h.264 video files primarily because of the ability of 5th generation and later iPods to play these video types. Other formats are possible, but are far less common than these. A video podcast might be a simple as a single shot from a single camera, as complex as network television with multiple cameras, highly produced graphics and video packages. In between are a genre called screen casts which are created primarily for computer software instructional purposes. These rely on screen capture software and a talented presenter to pull off well.

Finally, text podcasts are the most rare. These podcasts usually include a pdf document with instructions, plans, an ebook or the like. Authors of podio books (i.e. podcasted audio books) might include the full text of the book for their readers to follow along. An instructional podcast might include step by step instructions that would allow the audience to follow along as the host guides them through a project.

In short, it’s the subscribe-ability that makes a podcast a podcast. Sure people can go to my site to listen to my podcasts, but why do that when you can automatically get all new episodes in iTunes after I release it.

As a side note, you don’t need an iPod to do podcasts. Any mp3 player will do. For that matter you don’t need an mp3 player. You can listen (or watch or read) in your aggregator (i.e. the software that lets you subscribe to podcasts, iTunes being the mose used). Heck, if you wanted to you could burn it to a cd or record it onto audio or video tape. However you listen, watch or read, podcasting is a valuable method of content distribution with a low barrier of entry.


So I’ve been looking for some free or inexpensive stingers and other stuff for my podcast. I found this: Royalty Free Podcast Promo Soundpack

It’s on the Apple site and claims that it requires OS X, but it’s just a zip file containing four stings, four loops in wav format so it’s good for Windows and Linux, too.


I know that many of you don’t subscribe to the podcast, but instead listen online. For som people, that’s by design. For others, it’s not knowing how.

Watch this video from my buddy Dave at the “School of Podcasting” and find out how. This is even great for your church’s site to show people how to subscribe to your podcast.


My First Podcast

I remember when I first heard of podcasting. I had been a huge fan of “The ScreenSavers” on TechTV. When G4 bought TechTV, I thought that I’d get the best of both worlds and was saddened when I was wrong and the best of both networks were sent away into the ether never to return. I had considered getting satellite tv just so I could have TechTV, now I was glad I hadn’t.

Not long after that I mentioned in a thread that I missed TechTV. One of my fellow church geeks mentioned that Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, and several of the other former ScreenSavers were doing a podcast. I’d never heard of podcasting, but as an early adopter, I decided to research it.

I was pleased to find that my friend was right. Leo and the gang had in fact started podcast. I listened to the first two episodes with wrapped attention. I could envision a day when I could virtually create my own talk radio station with the subjects I liked (mostly technology) and listen at my leisure. No longer would I have to listen to what was on the AM stations when it was on. I was enamored by the possibilities. Now, I only needed to find a way to subscribe.

It was before Apple added support to iTunes for podcasting. In fact, RSS 2.0 support (required for Podcasting) was difficult to come by at all. Add to that the age of my computer (four years old at the time) and finding a Podcasting client (aka “Podcatcher”) was virtually impossible. I was forced to manually (whenever possible) download the shows. This was difficult at first. Many of the show I could find only had their feeds published and lacked direct links to their media. Because of bandwidth costs, many shows were trying alternate means of distribution like Bittorrent or even email.

I knew that something had to change. It did. In May of 2005, Steve Jobs announced that iTunes 4.9 would include Podcasting support. Since Apple includes support for older computers in their software, I knew I’d be safe to upgrade.

At the same time, I was considering launching a podcast of my own. I discussed it with my family, found the time, and began planning my show. I went to the 2005 national convention, knowing that I was planning to do a podcast. I returned home and recorded the keynote I’d delivered at the convention. I like to think of it as my pilot episode.

It was nothing like subsequent episodes, but starting it was an important step. I knew that it was a work in progress (as it still is), but it was more important to start and improve than to plan and never start.


If you want to create an RSS feed to turn a bunch of mp3 files into a podcast you have some choices. You can hand code (kind of like creating an HTML website the old-fashioned way). You can follow the directions in a tutorial I wrote HERE (make sure you copy the xml example from HERE, too).

You can use something on your server, whether its WordPress, or something like the simple program– Dircaster, which creates an RSS feed automatically from the contents of a directory on any Linux web server. Some podcasting hosts (like Libsyn) do this automatically when you upload your mp3.

Finally, you can use a piece of software on your own home or office computer to create the RSS. Notable examples include Feed for All and RSS Buddy.

BTW, I use a combination of WordPress (for my blog) and Libsyn (to host my files and create my feed).


Podcasting Seminar Taught by…me

I’m teaching a three hour seminar on podcasting in Boonsboro, Maryland. If your are interested in a seminar where you’ll get the nuts and bolts of how to podcast your church service, corporate gathering, or your own show, this is the event for you. Spend time learning lessons I’ve gathered over the past year. I plan on showing you the steps I take to make, “Tech, No Babel” a reality each week.

Go to this page to register. The cost is an unbelievably low $10. If you live or work in the Washington or Baltimore area, this is your opportunity to meet me and learn how to leverage the power of podcasting to spread the Gospel.


As they confirm, I’ll talk about guests on Monday’s special “One Year Anniversary Extravaganza” show. Here’s how you participate:

Skype out to
or use your cell phone evening and weekend minutes to call
or just call:

1-620-782-8800 (which is a Kansas number)
enter the conference code: 3398662 (it’s the comment number without the area code)

That’s it. The number becomes active just before 11:00 pm Easter (10 Central, 9 Mountain, 8 Pacific).

I’ve got plenty of time scheduled, so you can ask the panel any questions you want or just listen to us talk. I’ll be recording it to make it available via the podcast, but by that time you won’t be able to participate.

I’ll try to get a tutorial on connecting via skype before the show.

Talk to you Monday.


Confirmed participants:
Phil from

My PowerPoint File
Blogger CMN blogging links