Part Two: Audio 101: Do I really sound like that?
Squeaky, screechy, and scratchy.
No, that’s not the name of a new animated cartoon series, it’s what can flush your podcast–audio or video–down the toilet in ten seconds flat. You’ll lose your audience before you have one if they can’t hear or understand you because of poor quality audio. Think of it this way: How many times have you wanted to dump an entire giant box of popcorn on the person behind you because they wouldn’t stop crunching throughout the entire film? More than likely it ruined the film for you because you couldn’t hear half of what was happening on the screen.
First rule in podcasting: Make sure they can hear you.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
The unidirectional mike I bought was cool, but the computer connection was wrong (the salesman sold me mono instead of stereo). I bought an adapter plug, but my troubles weren’t over. When I recorded my voice, I heard crackly static that made me sound like an old radio serial. A cheap sound card was the culprit, I found out, but not before I went crazy pushing every button and sliding every bar on my sound mixer trying to get rid of the “noise.” I had to have a new sound card installed, but it was worth it. I had cool, clear sound.
Now for the fun part: Recording my podcast!
You create that important first impression with your voice and make the audience want to hear more. You want your voice image to be natural. Don’t focus on your “low, husky” voice or try to be sultry Ã la Jessica Rabbit. Be aware that speaking at the very bottom of your pitch range can result in voice problems from the strain. At the other end of the spectrum, when you’re under stress, such as a first date or recording your first podcast, very often “singsong” or whine patterns from your childhood show up in your voice.
To improve your voice, focus on the bridge and sides of your nose down to and around your lips. This area is called the “mask” by voice experts because in ancient Greece stage actors spoke through masks which covered this part of their faces and amplified their voices. By producing sound through this part of your face, your voice will open up and become flexible, giving your voice expression and warmth. Speaking through the mask gives your voice a resonance that will seduce as well as impress your audience into coming back for more!
Before iPods ruled the planet, FM radio rocked the late night airwaves. Raw, sexy, unscripted. I know. I lived it when I was on air at a popular music station. From the bewitching hour to four a.m., I’d sit in a glass control booth in a strip mall where everyone who walked by could watch the DJ live on-the-air playing what the radio station dubbed “young and beautiful music.” It got weird at times when the bar in the mall closed at two a.m. and a drunk or two tapped on the glass window requesting I play “Last Dance.” I’d smile and continue queuing up the music while I read the news or gave the weather report in my husky, sexy voice: “Overcast with rain, high of sixty-nine” has a whole new meaning when you deliver it in low, breathy tones.
Needless to say, the station got calls. Lots of calls. Most were positive, some weren’t, but in the end sex sells, even radio commercial spots. The account exec told me our Arbitron numbers went up twenty-five percent in the first few months I was on the air. Every time my voice went lower, our numbers went higher. I didn’t know it then, but my gig behind the microphone set the stage for what was to come later in my writing career.
Along the yellow brick road to podcasting, I met up with a few tin men, more wolves than lions, and a scarecrow or two who had no heart. It’s been a bumpy road at best: I’ve been a shopaholic teen in radio commercials, traded sex toy stories with a female radio host in Canada, hosted my own show on Internet radio about the “wild side” of books, and discussed penis size with an LA radio talk show host usually known for his raucous political agenda.
Then I decided to go it alone as a podcaster. It couldn’t be too difficult, right? A podcast is simply an RSS feed of audio content distributed automatically by subscription or downloaded online through your website or podcast sites. It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. According to recent estimates, there are 20,000 plus podcasts online and listed in directories. Is anybody listening? You bet. Bridge Ratings reports that 8.4 million Americans tuned into at least one podcast by the end of 2006, and by 2010 that number is estimated to reach 60 million. Who listens to podcasts? According to Forrester Research, the fastest growing audience for podcasts is adults 25 to 44.
With my radio background, I was convinced I could do it. I purchased recording/editing software, a good microphone (you want your audience to hear you clearly), and a comfy pair of headsets. I was ready to sail the airwaves talking about my favorite subject.
Oh, what fools we writers beâ€¦
Tune in next month for Part Two of Confessions of a Podcast Goddessâ€¦ Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act.”