Podcasting at the Marriot Library

Podcasting: Ipod + broadcasting

Podcasting at the Marriott Library – Robert J. Nelson

Contact: robert.nelson@utah.edu

  • Head, Media Studios – Marriott Library, University of Utah
  • Audio Projects Librarian
  • Host, Reggae Radio show Smile Jamaica: KRCL 90.9FM; 1989-Present
  • Host, Radio Interview program Radioactive: KRCL 90.9FM 2003-2012

  • Podcasting – definition and personal experience
  • Podcasting is digital storytelling
  • Podcasting demographics
  • Podcasting: best tips & bad habits
  • Podcasting in the Audio Studio/Marriott Library/home
  • Covid-19 Audio Studio/podcasting impacts
  • Questions?


A mash-up of the IPod, Apple’s pre-Smartphone digital music player + “casting” as in radio /television broadcasting

Oxford English Dictionary definition:

A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. 

Smile Jamaica’s experience in pre-podcasting/digital archives

  • Circa 2001: upload .mp3s of individual Smile Jamaica shows to KRCL webpage for stream or download
  • Promote through personal email list and Usenet discussion group: Rec.Music.Reggae: link to Smile Jamaica page
  • Hosted until the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) enforcement required KRCL to shut down streams over copyright infringement.  Circa 2005.

The DMCA criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet(3)

Author’s personal collection

Digital  Radio Archive/Podcast insights

Smile Jamaica Archives: 40 years of record collecting (author’s personal collection)

Goal: How to get listeners world wide to consume Smile Jamaica if they don’t live in Northern Utah to hear the show live on terrestrial radio?

Issues are the exact same for modern podcasters:

  1. On-Demand media democratization – podcasts are usually free
  2. Digital media utility – listeners can listen on their time, not my time
  3. Market to target audience – why Smile Jamaica? A music archive for Reggae music collectors/obsessives. All vinyl or cd. No digital
  4. Storytelling imperative – no stories on Itunes Music, Pandora, Prime

Podcasting Demographics

Monthly Online Audio Listening by Age:

Age Range 2018 2019 2020
12 to 34 85% 87% 86%
35 to 54 69% 70% 76%
55 up 33% 40% 42%
  • Course assignments
  • Professional development
  • Anecdotal research
  • Life long learning
  • Personal enrichment and narratives

Podcast assignment

  • 5-8 minute length
  • Topic: intersection of human and natural systems related to the concept of sustainability. Must incorporate equity.

Podcast workflow:

  1. Writing assignment for an auditory outcome – write the narrative for the body of the podcast first:
    • Consider your audience (script written with audience in mind) – where do they live? interests? hobbies? cultural/political identification?
    • Make it conversational
    • Avoid jargon or inside jokes which shut-out the listener
    • Present any data/survey results in context. Overwhelming your listeners with a lot of figures can be hard to follow.
    • Don’t assume listeners are as well versed in the topic as you are
    • Brevity is essential. Make every sentence/concept impactful – think in terms of a lawyer giving opening arguments in a trial
    • Vocalizing a narrative script avoids annoying place holders like “ands” “umms”, “y’knows”
    • Credits and acknowledgements at the end.

2. Format of any interview results

    • Write out your questions
    • Ask open ended questions that begin with: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? – These responses can not be answered “yes” or “no”.
    • Avoid asking questions that begin with “Did” or “Do”? 
      • They reflect a bias and it stops the conversation
      • If you do ask “Did” or “Do” ask your guest to elaborate why “yes” or “no”

3. Read your narrative aloud several times

  • Make it personable and conversational
  • Don’t drone or mumble
  • Speak with authority and confidence

4. Record your narrative

Marriott Library resources:

  • Audio Studio – schedule a time with Robert to record (on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays)
  • Podcast Kits – check out from the Knowledge Commons Desk on Level 2 of the Marriott Library
  • Podcast Booth (in development) – A podcast recording booth on Level 2 Protospace. Hoping to come online in March


  • Smartphone recorder/digital recorder
  • Record in a space away from windows, air returns, barking dogs, crying babies, television, etc.
  • Hang a heavy blanket over windows.
  • Consider upgrading your microphone to record digitally to a laptop
Blue Snowball. USB condenser mic. Check out from Knowledge Commons in the Marriott or $50 for your own

5. Edit your Audio

  • I teach Audacity. It’s easy to record and edit. Garage Band is another free and easy option.
  • Import your audio and edit a final mix. 
    • If you don’t know how to edit sound, I can assist
    • YouTube tutorials are also very easy to learn sound
  • Make sure your Audio is in the sweet spot of sound.
    • YouTube video audio: Average on a sound meter should read between -12db and -9b
    • Peaks should be no higher than -1db. If you get a red clip mark on the audio, it is too loud and should be de-amplified to the ideal
    • Record 20 seconds of room tone (silence) and then use the noise reduction filter  under Effects to improve recording.
    • On Audacity your wave amplification of sound should be “colored” between -5db and +5db

6. Record your introduction after you have finished your podcast edit:

  • It should be no longer. than 30 seconds
  • It should capture the objective of the assignment:
    • A statement of your research question
    • How your results relate to sustainability
    • How your ‘cast incorporates equity
    • Your methodology
    • A brief statement of your research findings
  • Place edited intro audio before the narrative on your final podcast edit

Podcasting in a Pandemic:

  • Unmediated access suspended
  • Media Studios, (usually Robert), acts as sound engineer to ensure social distancing, PPE
  • 1 mic recording, no mask, using a disposable microphone cover


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