Podcasting for Fun (and No Profit)

So you’ll recall that I started doing a radio show a while ago as a way to promote my library. A coworker and I would get together once a week and talk library issues for a half hour. We had a good time doing it, but we wanted to somehow reach a few more people. We decided to try to record the show and broadcast it as a podcast. This turned out to be one of those thoughts that was very simple in theory, and really difficult in practice.

First up was the actual recording of the show. Our university’s radio station is set up to do things live. The microphones didn’t go to a computer that could record, so we switched the way we did the show, recording it ahead of time and then playing it back over the air at a later date.

But for a podcast to really be successful, it needs to live somewhere. For the first few months, I just hosted it on SoundCloud, because free. And that was fine, until I ran up against SoundCloud’s free limitations. It only lets you have three hours of recordings up at any one time. I could have started to delete old episodes as new ones came up, but that would kind of defeat the purpose.

So I was on a quest to find a way to host the podcast on the cheap. In the end, I went with Amazon S3 as the solution. All the research I’d seen indicated it was the best answer, but it also said it took a bit of work on your end to get it set up right. No problem! I’m good with technology, so I figured this was the way to go.

The trouble was “a bit of work” ended up being a huge understatement. My main goal was to get the podcast on iTunes, and so I had to teach myself not just how to link to individual episodes, but how to get it set up so that podcasts automatically got updated with iTunes. This meant I had to work out how RSS feeds functioned, and how to massage them so they worked with iTunes the right way.

In the end, this was hours and hours of work, believe it or not. I tried setting up brand new websites for the podcast. (Three different ones, as a matter of fact.) I kept going back to feed authenticators and iTunes podcast submission pages. I could get the feeds to load, but not the individual podcast episodes. I had to go to Amazon S3 and tweak permissions on the files and file names. It was much, more more complicated than I’d suspected.

The worst part of that struggle is never knowing if you’re ever going to actually solve the problem. After you’ve tried fifty or so approaches and none of them work, it can be really disheartening.

In the end, I got it to work. I had to post it on my own website (here), linking to Amazon S3 files, and using a new WordPress plugin to make it all come together, but in the end, I’m pretty sure I have it all ironed out. If you’d like to listen to the podcast (Heavy Meta with Mantor), you can check it out on iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/heavy-meta-with-mantor/id1211843738

At least, I hope that works. Let me know if it doesn’t . . .

You can also check out the latest episode here on my blog.

The good news is that now that it’s all figured out, I think it should be smooth sailing from now on. Until it isn’t at some point. That’s how it goes with technology . . .

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