The pandemic has changed the way, so many of us are engaging with podcasting. The ability to be in the same room as your co-hosts, guests, or production team was once considered a luxury, if not a necessity. Now, it is either impossible or irresponsible to gather in groups. But there are tools available to help you continue to produce great content while remaining socially distant. And you don’t have to break the bank to use them. All you need is a little time to figure out which tools are right for you. If you are wondering how to record a podcast remotely, here are five of the best tools for podcasting remotely that will help you remain productive during the pandemic.
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Best Tools For Podcasting Remotely
by Portia Flowers
Best Tool For Audio Recording: RINGR
Cost: Basic plan – $7.99/mo; Premium plan – $18.99/mo
RINGR is a recording service that works via desktop (Chrome or Firefox) and mobile device app (Android or iOS). You can pre-schedule your recording time, and guests are automatically notified via email. Get unlimited calling and storage with the Basic plan or upgrade to the Premium plan, which allows up to 4 guests at a time through the conference call feature.
Through their Premium plan, you can also choose various formats to download the audio file; however, only the Premium plan offers split tracks, which I’ve personally have found extremely helpful. Though the audio quality is good, I’ve seen a lot of voice overlapping, so I’d recommend working with split tracks, which is only available under the Premium plan.
Take advantage of their 30-day free trial and see which plan is right for you.
Best Tool For File Storage: Google Drive
Cost: 15 GB – Free; 100 GB – $1.99/mo
When it comes to a reliable storage platform, Cynthia L. Dorsey (co-Founder and artistic director of Soulfly Theatre Society) recommends one tool: Google Drive. “Having Google Drive as a backup is a must, especially if you will be continuously creating episodes. It’s something about Google Drive… I trust that system more than the other storage systems.”
Google Drive is compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari browsers, and macOS and Windows operating systems. All you need is a Google account to sign up.
Each Google account comes with 15 GB of storage shared across Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive, so be mindful of the amount of space you have available. However, you can upgrade your storage by subscribing to Google One. Plans start at $1.99/mo for 100 GB (they’re offering a special deal right now, $0.49/mo for the first three months). Depending on the size and quantity of audio files you have over the years, for instance, this may be worth the investment. You even have the option of sharing your storage with up to 5 family members.
Best Podcasting Tool For Editing: Audacity
Audacity may have a slightly steeper learning curve than the rest of the tools on this list, but it’s worth the effort. Audacity is a powerful tool that allows you to record, edit and import and export audio files from other sources. Every time I use it, I learn something new.
I’ve been told that other tools may be more user friendly, but if you give yourself enough time to explore the different functions and features, I think you’ll find it easy enough to use. This free, open-source software is available for download for Windows, macOS, and Linux systems.
Best Tool For Conference Calling: WhatsApp
Sometimes, the most common tool can double as a valuable piece of production equipment, which is what Dorsey found out as she navigated her way through the start of the pandemic in early 2020. “I started using WhatsApp to connect with friends overseas, but once the pandemic hit, I was trying to figure out a way to make the sound quality of (my podcast “On What?”) sound better. So I interviewed a group of girls that live in the UK, and I recorded them straight into my Roadcaster Pro while on WhatsApp, and the sound quality (was) excellent. I would highly recommend using Whats App.”
One of the significant advantages to WhatsApp is the ability to call or text anyone in the world for free, as long as they also have WhatsApp. You can even make conference calls or group chats, so whether you are interviewing a guest in another country or need a simple way to coordinate with your team, WhatsApp is an easy way to go.
WhatsApp can run on cellular data or Wi-Fi, so if you don’t have an unlimited data plan, you may want to wait until you have Wi-Fi access to use it. While WhatsApp is primarily known as a mobile device app, there’s also a desktop version. WhatsApp Web operates on Windows and Mac browsers. Everything on the web version syncs with the mobile app version, but unfortunately, the calling feature does not exist on the web version, so you’re limited to chat.
Best Tool For Audio & Visual Recording: Zoom
Cost: Basic Plan – Free; Various paid plans
Listen, if you’re like me, I know that the last thing you want to do is schedule yet another Zoom call. You spent the better part of this pandemic learning all things Zoom, and now, you’re all zoomed out. I get it but hear me out. You already know how to use it, so Zoom has a considerable advantage in terms of low barriers to entry. You can access it via desktop (Chrome or Firefox) or mobile device app (Android or iOS). Like WhatsApp, you can make free international calls. But unlike most conference call services, you have the added bonus of seeing the people you’re talking to so you can pick up on non-verbal cues, which may improve the quality of your conversations.
“I think Zoom is a great tool to connect with people and record new media content,” said Dorsey. Plus, the basic plan allows you to host up to 100 participants, so if you want to talk to a group of people and have your production team on standby, this may come in handy. Unfortunately, group meetings (3 participants or more) are limited to 40 mins on the free plan. The paid plans (starting at $14.99/mo) ups the maximum duration for group meetings to 30 hours.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to remain in place for a while. But that doesn’t mean your creativity has to stop. If you’ve always wanted to host a podcast, now is the perfect time to start. And if you’re several years into podcasting, don’t let this time keep you from doing what you enjoy. Dorsey, the co-founder and artistic director of Soulfly Theatre Society put it best, “Your voice could mean something to someone in the world, and they may need to hear what you have to say.”
So there you have it! Five easy and accessible tools you can use to share your unique perspective and stay productive through the pandemic without having to put yourself in harm’s way.
What tools are you using to podcast remotely?
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Portia Flowers is a scientist, an avid podcast listener, and a pop culture enthusiast. She is the producer and co-host of Hillman Class Reunion, a podcast about the classic sitcom A Different World. She also co-hosts Young, Black & Brave, a movie review podcast about representations of Black women in film, and is the co-creator of the Dorsey-Flowers Test, a tool to assess representations of Black women in film. In her spare time, she enjoys watching This Is Us and The Masked Singer.