My business partner, Dave Moyer of Bitwire Media, WordCast, and other ventures, and I spent several weeks on the road 24/7 traveling from Chicago to Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, then Vancouver, BC, and back to Seattle, then Portland. It was non-stop movement.
He was worried when it came time to do the first podcast on the road for the WordCast Podcast. Having podcast and done interviews from the road for years, I was used to it but he was dubious about quality and control of the entire sound production. I knew he could do it and with a lot of fuss, we set up our mics on the dining table in the motor home parked outside the home of friends of mine in Seattle, surfing off their high speed WIFI network, and rocked it. We did several podcasts in two days from there.
Want to hear the results? We recorded the 100th episode of WordCast with Dave and I together in Seattle in my motor home parked in a driveway, and Kym Huynh in his office in Australia for WordCast Podcast 100: What Were We Thinking?
Proof that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, and that you don’t have to be constantly tied to a land line or single studio space to do great work.
The Process and Equipment for Podcasting from the Road
I keep things as simple as possible. The most important bit of the puzzle for podcasting from the road is to find a high speed Internet connection. From there, it’s fairly simple.
A quiet space with no acoustic issues such as found in an echoing basement or huge open room is appreciated, but not always necessary. Distracting noises such as air conditioners, fans, engines running, or a noisy refrigerator need to be turned off or moved away from.
I use a high quality USB Mic. My favorite are the Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder and Blue Snowball & Ringer Package.
The Zoom H2 is the best of the two for extreme portability and flexibility. I can use it as a digital microphone attached to a microphone-like handle and record interviews, people, sounds, etc., fast and easy to the SD cards of any size slipped in at the bottom. It is a 2 or 4 track recorder with microphones that record at various points within the head of the unit, front only, back only, or surround. There is a built-in LCD equalizer and it is easy to set levels fast. Or I can put it on a mic stand or mic boom and use it as a professional speaking mic for podcasts or interviews. The microphone is a little bigger than a deck of cards and weighs very little. I put it, the windscreen, handle, and a small stand, and USB cord in a small camera bag or make-up case for travel and it slips right into my computer case.
Rarely do I travel with the Blue Snowball microphone as it is a big round ball approximately four inches across, and when used with the Ringer Universal Shockmount which I highly recommend, it is now of a size and weight for use in a more fixed location, like my home studio and office, though I had it with me on this trip in the motor home where I can carry more equipment. The sound quality is excellent and it’s an affordable and high quality microphone for podcasting.
With either of these, I hook them to my computer and set them up with the operating system and Skype (under Tools > Options > Audio) and test the levels by calling the famous Skype Lady (Echo Test). I use Pamela or CallGraph Skype Recorders to record my voice and the guests. These I edit and prep once recorded in Audacity, the audio editor and recorder. All of these are free and most are open source products.
A good headphone or ear piece set is required to listen while recording as running the sound through your speakers will result in an echo or latency.
It takes some testing and patience as you mess around with the sound levels and testing, but once set up, you are good to go. I can often set up my system from the moment I turn on the laptop to be able to start recording within 3-5 minutes at most. Usually less. The part that is the hardest is finding the WIFI or direct Internet connection and a quiet place to record.