Podcasting for the New Books Network


Last summer I started co-hosting on the Education channel of the New Books Network (which I wrote about here). It’s taken a little while to get my own set up for podcasting, but I think I’m ready to roll, hosting my first online interview tomorrow morning. Here’s the new set up:

  • Yeti USB condenser microphone – new in the box for $80 on craigslist
  • Sennheiser HD 206 headphones – about $30 on Amazon
  • Skype – free download
  • Zencastr – free, web-based platform, hobbyist account

Today I spent some time prepping my set up. I found some online video tutorials, including one specifically about microphone use, and ones specific to podcasting with the yeti. I’ll admit, I didn’t know which was the front or back of the mic (volume dial should be facing me), nor did I know whether it should be upright or tilted (upright), nor did I know what “gain” is (how sensitive the mic is to picking up sound)! I have no background in recording, so this is all new to me.

My plan is to start the interview via Skype, go over the way the interview will proceed, then ask the other person to mute their Skype mic and audio and open the Zencastr link. Zencastr creates two audio files, one for each person, then zips them together once the recording is over. This avoids the audio “hand off” jumps that happen in regular video chats.

It might seem funny to be spending time how to learn to record a podcast while I’m getting my PhD in Educational Leadership, but learning new things is my favorite part of being an academic – the exploration, the new connections, the flutter of nerves that comes right before the interview/presentation/submission. It also reminds me what it’s like to join a new community and not know the discourse – like what “gain” means. This is the tinkering, puzzling, and discovery that I’ve written about from my first reflections as a young teacher; the enjoyment I find in solving problems.

In this case, the actual podcasts I’m producing are valuable to the broader education community. The New Books Network provides an infrastructure to share ideas in education in a more informal and (I think) accessible way. One thing I particularly like about the education channel is that it has a mix of practice-based books (like my interview with Jim Rickabaugh) and research-based books (like my interview with Erica Halverson). Stay tuned for the author interviews to come this spring!

*As a broader graduate school reflection, I want to note that in the background of the picture above, sitting at my desk in the graduate student office, are my

  1. to do list for my position as communication co-chair for the AERA Division A Graduate Student Committee (basically I do the website posts, which you can see here);
  2. my semester writing syllabus, which I do each semester from Get a Life, PhD;
  3. my weekly (more or less successful) weekly writing calendar for the 12 weeks to journal article group that I am organizing; and
  4. a stack of journal articles I had good intentions to read!

With this post, I have reached my goal of writing 6 posts this semester. Ticking off the achievements feels good on this long PhD journey!

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