Taking the First Step

July 21, 2018

When you decide to start your own podcast, where do you begin?  Show ideas, guests, studio, technology, the podcast ecosystem and even questioning my own guts all swirled around in my noggin.  I figured I would start small and gradually improve it over time.

I see this as a personal project.  A new adventure.  So what would I name it?  There are countless cleverly named podcasts titles that cater to a specific niche audience.  I didn’t want this to be limiting in the early stages.  Since this is my own project, why not call it the John Riley Project?  After all Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan and others use their own name in their podcast title.  So it is the John Riley Project.  If I am successful in building a large enough portfolio of episodes then I might create separate shows or channels focused on just those topics (sports, politics, etc.).  But for now, anything goes.

Then I began exploring the technology.  I spent countless hours doing down this rabbit hole.  There is an insane number of choices for microphones, mixing boards and video cameras.  What I found particularly helpful is there is a world of podcasters that enjoy podcasting about podcasting such as The Podcasters’ Studio.  They offer countless head-to-head reviews in various product categories that I found really helpful.  But it really became overwhelming as these audiophiles analyzed the technology in incredible minutiae.

I knew going in that I need the highest quality of microphones to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to.  After considering various lavalier mic setups for a studio similar to the Rubin Report, I decided to keep it simple and go with quality microphones on boom stands.  This is what other podcasters use, so if I am getting started I would “do as the Romans do”.  As this project grows I am certain I am going to explore other technologies along the way.  That will be part of the fun.

I also wanted video, but nothing too complicated.  But I didn’t want a single camera that never moved.  I wanted to be able to switch cameras similar to the Joe Rogan Experience.  But how do I do this without expensive video switching gear and a technician to run it?  One of the pioneers in podcasting, Leo Leporte, recommended a video camera by Mevo that can do multiple camera angles from a single camera.  One could set up the video camera and then forget it is there.  Just let it run as it captures multiple angles and switches automatically.  This seemed worth a try.

Where was I going to set this all up?  My living room should work out as a perfect place.  Our previous owners set it up as a home theater with heavy drapes and a curtain that completely encloses the room in darkness.  These curtains can help me not only manage lighting but also provide sound insulation.  We hardly ever use the living room, so I just took it over.  I hope the fine wife does not mind.

So this is the initial shopping list of gear I bought to get this project started:

  • (2) Ultimate Broadcast Bundle: Rode Procaster – Large Capsule Broadcast Quality Dynamic Microphone with Rode PSA 1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm and Rode PSM 1 Shockmount; For Broadcasting
  • (1) Mackie PROFX8V2 8-Channel Compact Mixer with USB and Effects
  • (1) Cloudlifter CL-2 gain booster
  • (1) Mevo Plus Live Event Camera by Livestream, Black – Bundle With Boost by Livestream, Case for Live Event Camera, K&M Microphone Stand
  • (1) Fovitec 3x 20″x28″ Softbox Lighting Kit w/ 2500 W Total Output – [Classic][Includes Boom, Stands, Softboxes, Socket Heads, 11x 45W Bulbs]
  • (4) 10′ XLR cables

So now the next step in the project is to get this gear setup and then learn how to operate it.  I am confident that the microphones, gain booster and mixer will work out well.  The video capture with the Mevo is a big question mark that will require plenty of experimentation with camera angles, camera “switching” and lighting.  I am also making a huge assumption that the audio from the mixer can seamlessly flow into the video camera and synchronize with the video.  I may have to get a separate audio recorder.  I may have to learn skills with Adobe Premier.

We’ll see how this goes.