The beauty of podcasting is that anyone can do it. It’s a rare medium that’s nearly as easy to make as it is to consume. And as such, no two people do it exactly the same way. There are a wealth of hardware and software solutions open to potential podcasters, so setups run the gamut from NPR studios to USB Skype rigs (the latter of which has become a kind of default during the current pandemic).
We’ve asked some of our favorite podcast hosts and producers to highlight their workflows — the equipment and software they use to get the job done. The list so far includes:
Welcome to Your Fantasy’s Eleanor Kagan
Articles of Interest’s Avery Trufelman
First Draft and Track Changes’ Sarah Enni
RiYL remote podcasting edition
Family Ghosts’ Sam Dingman
I’m Listening’s Anita Flores
Broken Record’s Justin Richmond
Criminal/This Is Love’s Lauren Spohrer
Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale
Jesse Thorn of Bullseye
Ben Lindbergh of Effectively Wild
My own podcast, RiYL
Everyone knows that politics are like sports, only with, you know, real-world consequences that can directly impact the lives of millions. But why deal in abstractions when you can bet actual money? With Election Profit Makers, co-hosts David Rees, Starlee Kine and Jon Kimball put their money where their mouth is, betting on political outcomes with their hard-earned dollars.
As a collector of audio gear (mostly effects pedals, old rim-drive tape machines and 1980s keyboards I’ve modified), I wish I could say my podcasting setup featured equipment that is extremely expensive and hard to come by. I would love to brag about using, say, hand-wired boutique preamps and a rare Soviet condenser microphone I bought at a military auction in Kazakhstan. Nothing would please me more than to share photographs of a massive reel-to-reel tape machine on which I record my ad reads (for “warmth”) before mixing them down on my laptop.
Alas, my podcasting setup is extremely normal. I have a Scarlett two-channel interface I bought at a chain store. I have a Rode microphone because I couldn’t afford a Shure SM7B. I record into GarageBand, which is the spiral-bound notebook of audio interfaces. The only slightly unusual thing about my podcasting setup is that on the rare occasion when I edit an episode I do so in Ableton Live, which I originally bought years ago when I was obsessed with making mashups.
The only analog affectation I can claim is a shameful one: My laptop is so old the USB ports seem to be going slack — I’m surprised they don’t have hair growing out of them like old men’s ears — so I have to fix the line from my Scarlett into place using electrical tape.
Election Profit Makers is a podcast about betting on political events using the web site PredictIt.org. (My co-host Jon Kimball made enough money on the 2020 election to buy a new car; I made enough to buy a new tremolo pedal.) The only time we’ve done field recordings was last spring, when Jon and I went on a nerd / comedy cruise in the Caribbean the week COVID hit. We recorded daily dispatches at sea using a Zoom H4N, then wandered around Santo Domingo until we found a university library whose Wi-Fi we could use to upload the files to our co-host and editor Starlee. My phone tells me I walked 24,000 steps that day.
Because my podcasting setup is so boring, I have spiced up the photos by including some of my other audio gear in the shots! When the world is ready for cassette-based podcasts saturated in analog delay, I will be more than happy to oblige!