Podcasting takes time. Some people have an hour-long show every day, plus day jobs, children, friends, other hobbies, and commutes. Editing often takes twice the time, or more, than it took to record the podcast. So why do it? After all, isn't podcasting supposed to be from the people, raw and unfiltered? That concept is attractive, yes, until you listen to some of the raw and unfiltered podcasts out there. Sure, several people can do unedited shows and get away with it: Adam Curry has at least one "Senseo" burp per podcast, and no one gets on his back about editing. But for most of us, if we have excessive noise, distractions, or vocal tics, our listeners will be so distracted by the annoying noise that they won't hear anything about what our podcast is supposed to be about.
If you want your podcast to serve as more of a professional service rather than a conversational audioblog, you will definitely want to edit.
Defining "Professional" Quality
As we say again and again, you don't need $500 worth of audio equipment to produce a podcast that sounds professional. The most important reason for your podcast to sound professional is for the audience not to hear audiobooks with coughing interrupting the climactic scene or DJs leaning away from the mic to yell at their dog to get his nose out of the cat box.
Granted, some people want their podcast to be conversational and don't want to cut out the interruptions of their lives. But still, even those people can benefit from cutting out distracting noises or recording away from excessive background noises.
Easier on the Listeners' Ears
Your podcast can have vital and wonderful information, gut-busting humor, and poignant messages, but if it is painful to your listeners when they hear it, they will unsubscribe.
If your audio has sibilant s's and popping p's and levels that are all over the board, driving your listeners to dive for their volume control, you will lose them. Taking some time to tone down the pops and even out the levels is a small price to pay for keeping your subscribers happy.
To fix problems with sibilance and popping, make sure your microphone is the correct distance from your mouth (do some test runs to determine what constitutes a good distance), see if speaking over the mic sounds better than directly into it, and invest in a pop filter, if necessary.
In the case of the pops, though, you can also edit them out by hand. They're easy to find; they are the spikes in the file. Be careful when editing them: You can remove the spike but the word may sound truncated to the listener when you're done
We discuss evening out your levels via audio compression in Chapter 11, "Keeping the Podcast Consistent."
Many of the vocal tics we have in conversation just flow past our ears, rarely noticed unless used to excess. It's, uh, pretty obvious, you know, that the vocal tics just sort of come out when, uh, they're written down, but it's surprising how much they stand out when podcasting.
Although we want to believe that many podcasts are more like conversations than sterile radio shows, the listener's ear picks up on vocal mistakes more in podcasts. Perhaps it's just that we're so used to smooth, practiced radio voices that we can catch any mistake. Whatever the reason, listeners easily notice the stray "um" and "you know." These hesitant words stand out like a mud-covered pig in a church service. They make the podcaster sound unsure and lacking of the credibility he or she hopes to build.
The good news is that, when you're editing, these words are usually very easy to catch. Just look for the solitary sound in your track. It's likely where you paused, said "um," and then continued (see Figure 10.1).
Figure 10.1. When you're editing your podcast's audio track, the "ums" in your audio file usually stand out.
An example of just such a peak in the audio wave form is illustrated in Figure 10.2.
Figure 10.2. You can purposely make sharp noises to create peaks to alert you to where you need to edit.