Podcast Catch Up

I did the WordBalloon Podcast with John Siuntres a couple weeks ago. (You can hear the whole thing here.) I had a fun time, and was reminded of how much I enjoy and fear podcasting, all at the same time. As a writer, it’s easy to work in advance and fact-check and edit everything to a fine point. Podcasting is painting in broad strokes. There are no re-dos and no time to check things while you’re going. I said a couple of things I wish I could have looked up on Google to fact check as soon as I said them. I can’t insert a link to back up what I had just said. And, sometimes, my thoughts would go competely off the rails and I had to fight my own way back.

Such is life. I had fun and will do it again someday, I’m sure.

The funny thing is, it’s the first podcast I’ve done in years. All of my equipment was boxed up. It was fun unboxing and testing everything, so I thought I’d document that process here.

First, you can see the set-up I was using in my podcasting prime in this write-up from six years ago on this very site. I don’t have the compressor anymore. Sold that on eBay a couple years back to fund another purchase, probably a camera lens. The mic stand is gone, too. It’s cheap enough to replace, should I ever get back into the game seriously. And if I did do a comeback, I might be more interested in going all the way and getting a boom arm that swings away from me when I’m not using it.

I’m also not using that Power Mac anymore. It’s since been replaced with an iMac. But for WordBalloon, since I wasn’t the one recording it, I didn’t even need that much power. I used an old MacBook. It goes back to 2008, I think. It’s a white plastic one, pre-uni-body construction. It’s Intel inside, at least.

But the real reason for using it is that I couldn’t record a podcast upstairs. My wife and daughter were sleeping in adjacent rooms to my “man cave.” And I’m a loud podcaster. That’s my mic technique. I had to record two floors below, in the basement, which has pretty poor wi-fi.

I used a 75 foot Cat6 cable. It’s something I bought with an eye towards eventually snaking it through the walls into the basement from the router in the man cave to set up a second router down there to create a second wi-fi zone that would be more reliable. Also, I could plug the Blu-Ray player directly in. And the Apple TV. And does the Wii have an ethernet port? I don’t remember.

That project still hasn’t happened, but the Cat6 cable was long enough to plug it into the router upstairs, drag it down the hall, drop it down four flights of stairs, and then pull it across the basement to the far corner where I could most comfortably record.

I nestled the mic in a couple of pillows covered by a blanket to help keep the echoing down. I sat on the couch in front of it and leaned over the mic to record. It’s not the most comfortable way to do it, but it produced the best results in the short time I had to test. (Thanks, Skype Call Testing!)

The mic is not powered, so I still used the small mixing board to provide phantom power, and then plugged that in through the USB port via a dongle thing from Griffin. My headphones went into the headphone jack on the laptop so I could hear John on the other end of Skype.

It’s been so long since I’ve used Skype, I was forced to upgrade from v2.x to version 6.x.

After that, it was an hour and a half of chatting and recording, then breaking everything back down, boxing it up into the back closet, and rolling up the wire.

Doing this one podcast got me excited to do two things:

  1. More podcasts.
  2. Wire up the network in the basement.

We’ll see if either of those things actually happens in 2013. I’d bet more on the latter than the former. That would make for a good blog post. Hey, maybe I’ll make it a New Year’s Resolution!