It seems there is an international day for just about everything nowadays, from your favorite food to talking like a pirate. Perhaps, next year, we’ll take up the challenge of blogging like a pirate and seeing how effectively we can get the various text-to-speech engines JAWS supports to do it right.
Since 2014, 30 September has been International Podcast Day. It’s a day when people hold events globally to celebrate this communications phenomenon.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is audio or video that comes to you, usually through an app designed specifically for the purpose. A genuine podcast needs two types of file. There is the audio or video file that you listen to or watch, and there is a data file, in XML format, that you generally don’t need to worry about but which tells your podcast player when there is new material available.
Although most podcasts are free, the process of indicating that you want to be notified when a new episode of a podcast is available is known as subscribing to a podcast. There are dedicated podcasting apps available on all platforms.
Although Apple’s podcast apps and directories are the most frequently used in the world, Apple didn’t invent the podcast. It is a grass-roots initiative which Apple embraced after podcasting had already gathered a following. The name was inspired by the fact that as this form of media distribution started to become popular, a lot of people were listening to this material on iPods.
How do you produce a podcast?
To make an audio podcast, you’ll need a microphone that sounds reasonable, and something to record with, such as an app on your PC. But the exciting thing is that a good quality podcast can be produced cost-effectively, and made available to a global audience. The Internet’s democratizing power means that anyone can produce a podcast that could potentially gain many thousands of listeners.
There are numerous accessible recording options in Windows. JAWS works beautifully with a range of tools that can be used in the production of podcasts, including Audacity, Sound Forge, Goldwave, Reaper, Studio Recorder and many more.
When you have produced your podcast, you need to either host it yourself on a website, perhaps with a WordPress plug-in to assist you, or hand that job over to a dedicated podcast hosting company.
As someone who has been podcasting since 2004, I know from first-hand experience that it’s rewarding and a lot of fun.
FSCast, Freedom Scientific’s podcast
I’ve been hosting FSCast, Freedom Scientific’s official podcast, since it began in December 2006. I often get asked how we got started, and how we produce it. International Podcast day seems like a good time to answer some of those questions.
When I first visited Freedom Scientific as a newly-minted member of the team in 2006, I was struck by everyone’s dedication and enthusiasm. Here were people who loved going to work in the morning because they were making a positive difference. So, my initial inspiration for FSCast was the people I had begun working with, and the desire to communicate that enthusiasm to customers and potential customers. Having worked in broadcasting over the years, it was a contribution I felt I could make.
In the last 11 years, FSCast has introduced you to some of the people who make that difference, be it in technical support, product management, sales, quality assurance, or software and hardware development. It’s also the way to learn first-hand about new releases and products.
I still remember making my first recording with Eric Damery and Dan Clark unveiling a new version of JAWS. That one was 9.0, by the way. It was awe-inspiring to think that we were letting people know, for the first time, about new features that would help people work smarter and be more productive.
We’ve been careful to ensure that FSCast is not just about us, because again, people who work on this team are inspired to do what we do because of the difference we make. That’s why I’ve interviewed a wide range of people who are using Freedom Scientific products to perform diverse tasks. FSCast has featured journalists, medical doctors, teachers, authors, astrophysicists, business owners, students and so much more. We of course touch on the way they use technology, and our technology in particular, but we also learn about their journey, and any challenges they’ve overcome. I’ve learned a lot over the years from all of our interviewees, and the feedback we receive indicates many others feel the same.
For the audio geeks, I’ve produced FSCast using different technology over the years. I use a mixer which has recently been updated, having moved from an Axel Digital product to my current Allen & Heath Zed-22FX. The microphones we now use are Heil PR-40s, I can thank Glen Gordon, our CTO and an audio geek himself, for that recommendation.
Much of the time, I’ve produced FSCast in Studio Recorder, a product from APH designed specifically for spoken word recording. Recently, however, I’ve been going multitrack for most things, and am using Reaper.
Listening to FSCast
FSCast is available in all major podcast directories. If you have a podcast app on any platform, you should be able to type FSCast into its search facility and our podcast will come right up. It’s even possible to listen via smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
In English-speaking countries, JAWS itself will let you know when we publish a new episode, so you don’t miss out on the latest information of interest. You can disable this feature in the JAWS Settings Center if you prefer.
We’re thrilled that so many people use JAWS as the screen reader assisting them to produce a wide selection of blindness-specific podcasts.
Happy International Podcast Day, and we hope you continue to enjoy FSCast.