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Podcasting Made Easy with GarageBand 3, iWeb, and .Mac

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Podcasting has become the latest trend. Do you think starting one of your own might be a good way to promote your band, spice up your company's Web site, or be just plain fun to do? If you're worried that it seems too complicated, take heart. Apple's iLife '06 makes if fun and easy to put your voice out there. Find out how easy it is with this step-by-step guide from expert Ryan Faas.
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Apple first responded to the podcast trend by building support for podcast subscriptions into iTunes and by making a searchable podcast directory part of the iTunes Music Store. Those innovations were great for the podcast audience. You can easily search or browse for podcasts that interest you, subscribe to them, have them loaded to your iPod, and have your subscriptions managed completely in iTunes. For a great many people—myself included—this ease of use made podcast listening a regular part of everyday life.

Apple didn’t stop at making listening to podcasts as simple as downloading a song via iTunes. With iLife ’06, Apple has made podcast production almost as easy as podcast subscription. Between GarageBand, iWeb, and .Mac, Apple has given every Mac owner the ability to literally make their voice heard by producing their own virtual show and having it be part of the iTunes podcast directory. In this article, we’ll go step by step through creating a podcast by using iLife ’06 and .Mac.

What You Need

Before you get started, you need a few things to become your own podcast producer. First, you need a Mac with iLife ’06 installed on it. iLife ’06 comes with all new Macs and can be purchased for older Macs for $79. It requires a Mac with a G4 or better processor.

You also need a microphone or other recording implement. Current and recent Mac models have included a built-in mic and/or a line-in audio port. If your Mac doesn’t include a mic or you want one with better quality, you have to make use of the line-in audio port (or you can use a USB mic if your Mac lacks line-in audio). In theory, you could record audio on another digital recording device and then copy the audio file to your Mac or even use the audio track recorded from a digital camcorder, but the steps involved in doing that go beyond the scope of this article.

You need a .Mac membership. Using .Mac gives you a place on Apple’s server to store the audio files that make up your podcast, along with the RSS feed that iTunes and other applications use to determine which episodes audience members have downloaded and listened to. Because podcast publishing with iLife also uses iWeb, your .Mac account also stores a Web page that contains links to podcast episodes and information about your podcast. You could use iWeb’s Publish to Folder feature to eventually upload you site and podcast to a different server, but again the steps in doing that are beyond this article.

Finally, you need a concept for your podcast. What will you talk about? Will it be a news-style podcast, conversations between you and a friend, interviews, an audio blog, or music that you produced? Having a clear idea of what your podcast will be about (not to mention how often you’ll produce episodes) can be helpful to you when preparing for and recording each episode. More importantly, it gives you an idea how to describe your podcast in the podcast page in iWeb. This is important because it is how listeners will decide whether or not to sample or subscribe to your podcast.

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