Scared of "podcasting"? You just have to press record.

Don’t be scared of the term podcasting – just think of it as the technical magic behind how you record audio. There are so many ways to record audio and make podcasts, and we talk about three on this site.

  1. Anchor. fm on your phone/IPAD - must have a reliable internet connection

  2. Voice memos on your phone/ IPAD - when internet connection is a concern

  3. Free audio software called Audacity on the laptop.

For more on each option - read on.

Option 1: Anchor.fm on your phone or IPAD or laptop - must have a strong and reliable internet connection!

You can make simple, great sounding podcast recordings using a free podcasting app called Anchor. This is available at your phone/tablet App Store, or if you are registering on the laptop at www.anchor.fm or search on your phone/tablet’s App Store. The Anchor app uses the existing microphone in your device and maximises the audio sound quality to all sorts of amazing techy-stereo sound cool stuff. You can check out the sound specifications if you are into that side of things. https://medium.com/anchor/now-your-audio-on-anchor-sounds-better-than-ever-41f89c3559ce.

Podcasting technology also allows you to create podcasting episodes by bringing together audio files, music files and other sounds, to make a final program. This can then be published through all the major public listening platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play Music.

But if you don’t want to publish it publicly – you don’t have to. Anchor and other podcasting technology can be used to simply record audio, or create programs, and then you can save (referred to as export) the interview as an audio file to store and share as you like.

Using Anchor? Some important tips

If you have decided to use Anchor, then note these important tips:

You need to have a reliable internet connection. WiFi is best, but a 4G phone connection will work. It can be more unstable, slower to save, and you run a greater risk of the recording dropping out and not saving. If using 4G, then make shorter segments to minimise this risk.

If you will not have an internet connection available or it is too unstable, then I recommend you use either Voice Memos on your phone or Audacity software on your laptop. These are described in more details further in the blog.

  1. When you sign up to Anchor, they talk a lot about making and publishing your podcast publicly. Don’t panic - you do not have to publish the podcast or make it public at all! You can save all your segments to an “unpublished episode” and then export them off your phone into audio files later.

  2. You can only record for up to 60 minutes a segment. So, each recording cannot last longer than that. But, I suggest to record for only up to about 20-30 minutes before pausing.

  3. After 20-30 minutes, stop recording (Press Stop) and then save that audio as a “segment”. You will be asked to press Save in the lower corner, then Name the File in the Add to Episode Box. It may already have an Episode it will save it too, or it may ask you to select an episode. If yes, select an Unpublished episode and it will go there. Name the segment you are saving and press the purple Add Recording to Episode. As soon as you do that, it will look like the recording has disappeared and take you back to the recording home page.

  4. Don’t panic… Click into the purple folder called Library. You will see the audio there, with a moving circle and Uploading. This may take up to 5 minutes (especially if you are on a 4G internet connection). Just to be cautious, watch it while it uploads - have a chat - just to make sure it saves. After checking the audio has saved, then start a new segment and keep on going. You can make as many segments as you like.

  5. Please do a full trial run just interviewing yourself first. Test your setup, but also test how to record and create an Anchor recording. So, press record and create a segment, record, press stop, and then save the segment to an unpublished episode and see how it saves. Then go back, access it, listen to it. It’s important you know how to use Anchor - and how to save it - before you get into interviewing your loved one.

  6. Do a first recording with your loved one - a warm-up, for only about 5 minutes, and save it and play it back before continuing.

  7. There is always a small risk you may lose your audio recording through the internet connection dropping out or make a mistake saving, or that the Anchor.fm app will have a glitch. The above tips are here to help you reduce that risk as much as possible, but cannot completely eliminate it. Use of the Anchor.fm app is the responsibility of Anchor - see our Links page for more.

Option 2: Using voice memos on your Phone

If you are worried about your internet connection dropping out then simply use Voice Memos on your Phone. This is best if you recording your own interview (so by yourself talking directly into the phone) because then you can simply press record, hold the phone up to your ear and talk into it. You can then save the voice memo and that audio file can be exported as an external file into a podcast program maker such as Anchor as an external audio source.

Option 3: Using Audacity on your laptop

There is a free open source software called Audacity available for download straight onto your laptop called Audacity. I use this when I don't have an internet connection, and it records straight onto the laptop. Using it is very easy - just plug in mic and headphones. https://www.audacityteam.org/download/.

Software downloaded on a laptop does not need an internet connection, so you are safe from the connection dropping out and the small risk of the recording being lost.

When I use Audacity, I use headphones for myself but NOT for my subject as they find it uncomfortable. You cannot hear the audio as you record through headphones, but it does help to focus you on whether the speaker is on or off “mic”. I use an external USB microphone which I place near them on a still surface, and I make sure I am in well-furnished, preferably carpeted room.

  • I use a simple USB microphone called the Blue Snowball mic, it cost me $88 from JB HiFi . There are so many recommendations for microphones, so this is my only tip here.

  • Audacity can be downloaded here:  https://www.audacityteam.org/download/.

Some final advice on headphones and external microphones:

Note 1: Test your sound quality without an external microphone no matter how you choose to record, as if the room is quiet, the device still and close to your subject, and everyone speaking clearly and on-mic, then you may not need an external microphone. The use of an external microphone is a personal decision and outside the advice provided by A Lasting Tale.

Note 2: In my interviews I wear a set of headphones but I often do not put them on my subject. Realise that you cannot hear the recording through the headphones while you are making it. The headphones are simply there to block out external noise and keep you focused on them, and the interview, and to identify if they are beginning to talk “off mic”.