About Allison & the SkateCasts

Yup, I’m a skating fan.

But I’m a skater too. When I’m not working on my 4th Figure Test (just passed #3 in 2007!), I’m trying to consistently land through double flip. I compete nearly every year in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, and am always thrilled to see my other skating buddies there.

In my real life I’m a project manager and strategist at Palantir.net. I’m also interested in sustainability and green living, which is why I created Squishy Press, well-designed books for babies and toddlers made sustainably in the USA.

INTERVIEWS/PRESS
February 2014: interview with TSN Radio in Canada for a Sochi Olympics preview
June 2013: SKATING Magazine (available through “Members Only” section of USFS)
May 2013: Interview with Ice Talent Inc.
March 2013: Interview with “Is that a SkateGuard in Your Pocket or Are You Happy to See Me?”
June 2011: SKATING Magazine (available through “Members Only” section of USFS)

HOW DO YOU DO THE PODCAST?

I’ve been asked this a few times, so I thought I’d write about it. Bottom line is it isn’t hard. There are many types of recording software and microphones out there, so I can only vouch for what I use. But mine work well, so I’ll describe my equipment and then offer alternatives afterwards.

I’m a Macintosh user, which came preloaded with an application called GarageBand. People use GarageBand to create, record and edit music (skating coaches use it for music editing).

So all I need is:

  1. My laptop or desktop computer
  2. GarageBand
  3. For in-person interviews: two microphones, one for me and one for my interviewee. I use the SM58 mics from Shure with the X2u adaptor to plug into the computer. I also bought tripods for them.
  4. For interviews I have to do by phone: I use www.freeconferencecalling.com, which then saves the phone conversation as an mp3 file that I can edit as needed in GarageBand.
  5. FTP software (I use Transmit) to upload the files to your server

Ideally I do my interviews in person. For one thing, the audio quality is superior than a phone recording since the voices go directly into the computer with minimal background noise. Additionally I can assign each microphone its own track in GarageBand, which allows me much more latitude in editing. For example: if I talk loudly but my interviewee talks lower, I can move my volume down and move theirs up, or edit out if one person coughs, etc. It gives you much more quality control. (If you are serious about podcasting, contact me about how to assign tracks to each mic . . . it’s an involved series of steps). Another benefit to doing the interviews in person is that I can read the interviewee’s body language, and that helps me greatly as an interviewer to pace the questions well. Lastly, I like to do them in person because I’m a skating nerd, and like to meet the people of whom I’m such a fan.

There are many other types of microphones and recording software out there. Just find what works for you. For recording calls, I’ve known other podcasters that use Skype with a plugin called Pamela, and it seems to work well. It also helps with the body language since Skype has video conferencing. I used the Blu Snoball microphones in the past that can be purchased at the Apple Store, but I find the Shure mics far superior in both size and quality.

So when I’m about to do an interview, I get my computer, GarageBand and microphones ready. I don’t want to waste their time, so I get it all set up in advance and ready to go when they walk in the door. We do a quick mic test to make sure everything is recording properly, and then we do the interview. Once done, I immediately back up a copy.

When I’m ready to create the podcast itself, I record an introduction and conclusion, listen to the whole interview to edit out any background sounds, coughs, cursing (!), etc. In general, I do very minimal editing of the actual conversation . . . I try to keep as true to the conversation as possible. I edit only for undesirable quality or sounds.

Once the podcast is done to my liking, GarageBand gives me an option to save to iTunes. I select that, and then my file is now compressed as an mp3 audio file. Next I load it to my website server LibSyn (short for “Liberated Syndication”), which is a hosting service specifically for podcasting. I make a blog entry on my WordPress site here, I push the file from LibSyn to the website and iTunes simultaneously. Then I go onto social media and skating forums to tell listeners that there’s a new SkateCast available

Overall, this is how long it takes me to do one podcast each month:
•    Research on my interviewee: 2 to 4 hours
•    The interview, plus back-and-forth planning: 2 to 3 hours
•    Editing and releasing online: 4 to 5 hours
•    Responding to my fans emails and mailing giveaway prizes: 2 hours
Each month = 10 to 14 hours

I am hardly an expert. But I have improved the process over time, and am still learning. Obviously I’m doing some things properly! There are a few experts in podcasting if you want to learn more. One favorite resource of mine is Cliff Ravenscroft at the Podcast Answer Man (who I would love to hire for some expert advice someday). LibSyn is another terrific resource.

I could go into much more detail than this, and feel free to contact me if you want to learn more. But this is the basic process for the Manleywoman SkateCast.