How to successfully record a podcast

Remote interviews are a fact of life for every podcaster. In today’s era of social distancing with the global pandemic, it’s more so than ever. You rarely get the chance to conduct a podcast interview over again. So, it’s important to nail down your remote recording workflow is essential to success. In this blog article, we’ll show you how to successfully prepare for and record a remote podcast interview. It’s important to get it right the first time. We’ll also provide some additional tips along the way. 

The right remote podcast recording setup

The first step is to determine the remote recording setup that best suits the format and content of your podcast. It also needs to meet your production and editing workflow. In most cases, your best solution will involve recording remote interviews on Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. This low-friction setup makes it easy for guests or co-hosts to contribute. However, you’ll need to make sure you have the right software to record these interviews.

It’s also wise to make sure you can record phone calls. Phone interviews don’t offer great audio. They do make a great backup option in case of technical problems or schedule changes. Phone interviews probably won’t be your first choice. However, it’s a good idea to be able to record a phone call just in case you need to. 

If you’re recording with the same remote co-host on each episode of your podcast, consider a double-ender setup. This will help you and your co-host record your own audio tracks locally and combine them in post-production. For most podcasters, this isn’t the most convenient solution, but it does translate into the highest audio quality.

Preparation is the key to a successful podcast interview

When it comes to any interview, a little preparation goes a long way. It’s important to conduct your research on the background and expertise of the person you are talking to on your podcast. Who are they? Why is their work notable? What do you hope to learn from them?

Putting together a rough outline of the questions you’d like to ask will come in handy. Write down a handful of specific questions and key points. Keep your outline broad and high-level. That’ll allow you to more easily adapt to the flow of conversation.

Remember a conversational flow remotely can be trickier than doing one in person. So, listen more than you speak. Don’t interrupt your guest. In post-production, editing out awkward silences is easier than editing interruptions.

When it’s time to record your podcast interview, take steps to ensure a clean recording. Close all unnecessary software, web browsers, and turn off notifications on your computer.

How to record a Skype call, Zoom interview, or Google Hangout

For most remote recording situations, Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts are your platforms of choice. All three are easy to set up. Simple for guests to use, and feature audio quality is good enough for most podcasts. 

Both Zoom and Skype offer built-in call recording functionality. Google Hangouts currently limits this offering to enterprise users. There’s an additional caveat: the file format (.MP4 or .M4A) that each platform outputs may not be what you want. It depends on your podcast production and editing workflow.

For maximum control over your final product, you’re better off using third-party app. It will record computer system audio directly into the recording software of your choice. It’s better than relying on their recording functionality.

If you’re on a Mac, BlackHole is a great open-source tool that allows you to route audio between apps, which means you can record the audio output from Zoom (or Skype, or Google Hangouts) directly into your preferred recording software. On Windows, Virtual Audio Cable offers similar functionality. Another option is Descript. You won’t need to use additional audio routing software.

No matter which remote recording setup you use, make sure you test it. Then, test it again. Test it with a friend or colleague before you record your podcast. Troubleshooting when you should be interviewing ranks near the top of everyone’s least favorite thing to do. So, make sure everything is in order before your podcast guest is on the line.

How to record a phone interview with Google Voice

Social distancing means nearly everyone has gotten used to handling calls and meetings on Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Maybe your podcast guest is really old-school. Or your computer is on the fritz. Or maybe you simply only able to access a phone during your scheduled call time. It’s likely phone interviews will never be your first choice. Being able to record an old-fashioned phone call will come in handy.

Recording phone calls can be tricky, but using Google Voice can help. Follow Google’s instructions to set up Google Voice and then learn how to make an outgoing call. Once everything’s set up, you’ll be able to record phone calls with Google Voice.

Record a “double-ender”

For most remote recording situations, Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts are your platforms of choice. All three are easy to set up, simple for guests to use, and feature audio fidelity good enough for most podcasts. However, if you have a remote co-host that regularly appears on your podcast, and you want to maximize the quality of your audio, a “double-ender” is the way to go.

Each host or guest records themselves locally. Audio tracks are combined in post-production. For an additional cost, you can use third-party recording platforms that simulate double-enders without each speaker managing their own recording software.

A traditional double-ender sees each speaker recording their own audio track using their recording software of choice (Descript, Audacity, and Quicktime). Then, the host or editor combines each speaker’s recording into a finished product. Each speaker should have a decent microphone. If they’re using a laptop microphone to record, you probably won’t hear a substantial advantage with a double-ender.

Alternatively, you can simulate a double-ender by using a platform like SquadCast, Zencastr, or Cleanfeed. These services record lossless audio from each speaker. You can upload each track to the cloud and combine them automatically. These platforms cost money. They are a great alternative to a double-ender when guests or co-hosts don’t have the time or wherewithal to fiddle with recording themselves locally. Again, make sure each speaker has a decent microphone.

Recording your podcasts

Recording your podcast remotely isn’t painless. Once you get the hang of it and nail down your workflow, recording a podcast will become second nature. We hope these tips help you successfully record a podcast.

This guest blog article was written by Emma Wilson, a content relations associate, at Descript, an app that makes good videos and podcasts.