My home audio production and podcasting equipment setup

I'm pretty happy with my current home audio production and podcasting setup. I sometimes get questions about what tools, software and equipment I use, so I'm sharing more about that here in case it's helpful to others. (This post has affiliate links, so if you end up buying something by clicking on them, I may get a small percentage of the sale.)

It's worth noting that most of the audio production I do involves recording interviews and conversations with other people who are not physically present. I also occasionally do some in-person recording, field recording and voiceovers for audio and video segments.

Hardware

My day-to-day microphone is an Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone. While I used to prefer some fancier XLR condenser microphones (and still use them for in-person interviews and more intricate setups), I was annoyed with the amount of mixer and cable setup I would end up doing just to record something simple, and the resulting amount of equipment that I had to have sitting on my desk if I wanted it to be at all convenient. I tried some of the supposedly higher end USB microphones like the Blue Yeti Pro, but I just couldn't justify the additional cost and other weird limitations that came along with using them. The AT2020USB+ gives me really high quality, rich sound and it's always ready to go at a moment's notice.

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Podcast listening

Whether it's while walking the dog, running an errand or passing time on a trip, podcast listening is something I'm doing almost every day now. I think podcasts have largely replaced audio books and broadcast radio for me, and listening is one of my favorite ways to challenge my thinking, understand things I'm not familiar with, and spark my own creativity.

I recently started using Overcast to manage and listen to podcasts, and highly recommend it. I was getting really tired of the Apple-built podcast listening features in iTunes and iOS, and Overcast is a breath of fresh air. The Smart Speed feature in particular is pretty amazing.

After a 12-year hiatus since I produced The Richmond News Review, I've also started doing some podcasting again myself at Richmond Matters. It's again about topics of interest to my local community, and while the show is still taking shape you can find the first few interviews under the Richmond Matters Podcast in your favorite podcast directory (for convenience: Apple/iTunes, Google, Stitcher).

In any case, these are some of the podcasts that I'm enjoying on a regular basis:

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Notes from Moogfest

I took a quick trip to Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend to visit some friends and wander around the area. It's one of my favorite parts of the country, having spent a fair amount of time there as a kid, with my grandparents when they lived in Swannanoa and attending a summer camp for several years in Black Mountain.

But in looking up things to do while I was there this time, I found a whole new great reason to visit, the Moogfest music/art/tech festival.

Moogfest 2014 Wristband

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The Richmond News Review

This blog post is serving as a bookmark for the recently deactivated podcast and website at RichmondNewsReview.com, which I used to produce and maintain.

In 2006 I created a podcast called The Richmond News Review.  It consisted of 15-30 minute shows where I commented on news and events in and around Richmond, Indiana, sometimes interviewing newsmakers, politicians and members of the local media.  The show ran weekly at first, and then less frequently, until the last episode in 2008. After leaving the website dormant for a couple of years, in the fall of 2012 I decided to take it down.

Producing the show was an incredible amount of fun for me.  I got to blend my writing and blogging about news and politics with my interest in audio and video production.  I gained a new appreciation of the time and effort that goes into creating a podcast that people would actually want to listen to (let alone content that is compelling).  I added a new voice and perspective to some interesting community discussions.  And based on the feedback I got from listeners around the community, I provoked some useful dialog.

I still have the final published MP3 files from the podcast, if there's an episode you're interested in hearing.

My radio show on WECI

It's almost, but not quite, embarrassing to admit how much time I spent as a kid playing "Radio DJ" in my room.  I had a Fisher Price turntable along with a cassette deck hooked into a surprisingly advanced "be your own DJ" toy mixing device, and I would spin tunes for hours, paying particular attention the cross fades, the track notes announced in between songs, and faux news and weather reports to my non-existent listeners.  You create art for yourself regardless of whether someone else gets to view/hear it, right?

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National Day of Listening

Join StoryCorps in the National Day of ListeningThis Friday, when you're gathered with friends and family trying to figure out what to do with yourselves after that meal, consider participating in the National Day of Listening.  It's an opportunity to hear and record the stories that we all have to share about our lives, our greatest and hardest moments, and the lessons we've learned.  (And as some have noted recently in Richmond, the local community could benefit from having a better sense of our own narrative.)

All it takes is some kind of simple audio recording device, a good list of questions to get you started, and some time.  And it's a part of the larger oral history project that is StoryCorps, so there are some neat opportunities to share what you capture with a wider audience, if you want.

If you're in the Richmond area and want to send me some of what you record, I'll consider putting it together into an episode of the Richmond News Review podcast.

Listening to Scott Simon and Dave Isay, NPR greats

Very Large Array at the NRAOTonight I attended a talk by NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon, who I've always enjoyed listening to on the radio on lazy Saturday mornings. He talked about the current Presidential election and the role the media play, especially when it comes to their participation as news-makers, such as when media personalities moderate debates.

His comments were interesting and insightful, but not necessarily ground-breaking, and when asked to comment beyond what I took to be his prepared remarks, he had some trouble even being insightful. But, I did really appreciate his perspectives on how deferential and petty many members of the media have become, and his advice to politicians and interested citizens to go against the grain more and shake things up a bit.

Though, when I asked my question of him, he wasn't so into the shaking things up bit: Continue reading "Listening to Scott Simon and Dave Isay, NPR greats"

Were I to commandeer the use of a water-craft

Confession: one of my great pleasures/sicknesses when distracted is playing the game of reframing or rewording song lyrics and titles to be more thematically accurate, pseudo-politically correct, and/or appropriate for use in a scientific research paper.

For example:

  • My Girl by The Temptations becomes: The One Who is My Significant Other, and Also Female
  • I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly becomes: I Have a Sense That I Am Capable of Sub-Orbital Flight Without the Use of an Aircraft
  • Oops, I Did It Again by Britney Spears becomes: I Am Struck That I Appear to Have Made the Same Error I Previously Made
  • I Wish It Would Rain Down by Phil Collins becomes: It is My Earnest Hope That We Will Experience Significant Precipitation in the Near Future
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel becomes: I Perceive Something Noteworthy About Your Corneas

And so on. It's especially fun if you sing them to the original tune.

Does anyone else play this game? Or am I, as Gnarls Barkley should have called it in his hit song, Perpetually Experiencing Difficulty With My Understanding of Reality?

Doug, it's time to get up

Doug, Scott, Brandon and I were all sharing a room at Chicago's Drake hotel while on a weekend school field trip early on in high school. I was having a miserable time for various teen-agey angst reasons I won't go into, and I was tired of being cooped up in our room watching JFK (that is one long movie!). At the same time, I was quite fearful that our chaperones would make good on their threat to send us home early if we were caught even so much as peeking into the hallways after our prescribed curfew, so I remained stationary.

Doug, unfortunately, became the target of my antsy-ness. He had fallen asleep in one of the beds, and as 2 AM rolled around, I suggested to Brandon and Scott that we play a prank on the poor boy. All clocks were set to appear as 6:50 AM, the alarm clock was set for 10 minutes later (our prescribed time to start getting ready to go), the rest of us got into bed, the lights were turned off.
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