Ensuring Your Recorded Podcast Interviews are Trouble Free
Sometimes, you will need material for your podcast that requires a recorded conversation. When it comes to recording conversations, here are a few points to keep in mind before asking the first question:
- Get permission to record conversations, even if the interview is prearranged. Laws (both federal and state) prohibit the recording of conversations without permission, and further restrictions limit broadcasting these conversations. If you plan to record and publish a conversation, get the subject’s consent (for both) beforehand, both verbally and in written communication (even email) to make sure your legal issues are covered.
- Test the calling equipment. If you have arranged a phone-in (or Skype-in) interview with someone for your podcast — say, a favorite musician or politician — prepare for the interview ahead of time. Skype (or phone) a friend to conduct a mock interview and make sure the recording setup not only works but also sounds good.
The bandwidth demand increases the more people you conference through your computer. Reception will be affected, so if you know more than one person will be involved in this interview, it’s a good idea to test how many people you can effectively conference in one call.
- Check your batteries. If you’re using a portable recorder (such as the Zoom H4n Pro), make sure your batteries are charged and you have spares. (Check the spares, too.) If you’re really paranoid or live in an environment with periodic electrical problems, you can also pick up an uninterruptable power supply in case your main power cuts out.
- Check your storage space. Hard drives and solid-state devices are getting bigger and cheaper, but that doesn’t mean they’re infinite. Audio files can be big — especially if you’re recording to a raw format like WAV or AIFF! If you run out of space in the middle of recording a show or an interview, you lose time; lose pace; and in the case of interviews, lose face with your interviewee. If you’re recording to a portable recording device, it’s basically the same idea. Know how much storage you have, in megabytes or gigabytes, and how long you can record at your current bitrate.
If you’re doing an interview with multiple Skype participants (known as conferencing), it’s often best to have the person with the highest-power CPU host the meeting. That person should initiate the call and invite the other attendees one at a time. The better the CPU, the better the conference will run and the better your recording will sound. Also, the conference host may or may not be the same as the person recording the call. Remember, your goal during an interview is to try and minimize the chances for problems.
And although this may sound a bit pessimistic, be ready for things to go wrong. Guests might not show up for interviews. Also, new high-tech toys, if not given a proper preinterview shakedown, may not come through. Prepare to have plenty of topics to discuss on your own, and then your podcast can continue following a quick disclaimer. In podcasting, sticking to a regular schedule is reassuring to your listeners because they know you’ll offer new feeds consistently and punctually.