Podcasting is a simple and effective way to use audio to tell news stories. The portability of personal music players—like the iPod, iPhone and a host of other portable .mp3 players—extends the reach of your multimedia reporting beyond the home desktop or laptop computer.

Podcasts use a publish and subscribe model that enables anyone who creates a podcast to build a loyal—and valuable—audience. Once a user subscribes to your podcast series, either through iTunes or your web site or blog, every new episode appears on the user's computer or iPod without any additional interaction.

This tutorial will take you step-by-set through the process of creating your own podcast using a USB headset with a built-in microphone and GarageBand '08. Please note this tutorial is Apple specific. If you need to create a podcast on a PC, the general workflow is the same. Windows-specific software tools are included in the resources section at the end of this tutorial.

GarageBand is an audio recording and editing program developed by Apple that is available on all Macs and is part of Apple's iLife application suite. The complete package that includes the latest versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, iDVD and, of course, GarageBand retails for $79. While GarageBand is not the industry standard for audio editing and production, GarageBand is ideal for journalists who need a low-cost, easy-to-use tool for basic podcast and audio production. 

The content and style of podcasts vary wildly. This tutorial shows you how to produce a simple podcast with a single recorded track that you can narrate. Most podcasters start with this basic format and incrementally add additional features and complexity.

In the relatively short history of podcasting some keys to success are clear. Pick a topic you are knowledgeable and care about. Know that you will need to make a long-term commitment to podcast production and to promotion of your podcast. Interaction with your podcasting audience is essential. 

Before creating each podcast episode, start by writing a script or a set of detailed notes. Just like a good newspaper story, clarity and focus are key to a successful podcast. Writing a report for podcast listeners demands a direct writing style with simpler sentences than print. Print readers can go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph that didn't make sense the first time. Podcast listeners do not replay confusing portions of a podcast. More than one confusing sentence almost certainly means your listener will "change channels."

More resources on podcasting, including links to best practices and good examples, are available at the end of the tutorial.

This tutorial focuses on the basic GarageBand features that you will use for podcast production. GarageBand also has extensive tools for recording, composing and editing music that are beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Filed under: Audio