In the midst of a pandemic, it's good to concentrate on what we CAN do right now, rather than what we can't. And one of the great things about podcasting is the ability to do it in lockdown. Yes, even though the only colour in your skin after not seeing the sun for more than an hour a day is the orange dust from 16 bags of Doritos.
“But Crispy, ya big good-looking legend,” I hear you interject. “I don’t have a co-host and I live on my own/with my Nan/with my housemates who have the personality of a wilted piece of kale.” It’s true, I’ve already been through the fact that having a co host, or a guest, is one of the easiest ways to make your podcast more engaging (although you should totally do one with your Nan!). So what do we do here? We record remotely!
It’s totally possible to record with two people in different locations. The best way to do that, though, is dependent on what you’re trying to achieve.
I want to record remotely with a regular co-host.
You might have a co-host who you'd like to present your episodes with, but are unable to be in the same room together. In that case, by far the best thing to do is for each of you to record your “half” of the podcast and mash them together. The setup to do that looks like this:
Despite looking complicated, it's the best way to record remotely once you’re into the groove. Relatively simple, nothing to buy, great audio quality, and works really well. But what if you’re recording with a series of guests and don’t want to go through the rigmarole of setting it up every week?
I want to record guests remotely
If you’re recording guests every week then the above probably won’t work. It’s a bit complicated for someone who isn’t particularly tech savvy or has no way to record at home. You’re asking them to be a guest on your show, after all, not record their own podcast! So what can we do?
Record the conversation through the video call.
Most people (especially nowadays) are familiar with conducting a video call. This makes recording the video call a nice, non-intimidating solution for your guests, despite the reduction in audio quality. Zoom seems to be the easiest, allowing you to record a conversation by clicking the “record” button in the call, although here are ways to record straight from Skype and FaceTime as well.
If you’re going to try this, I’d still recommend recording yourself separately like we did in the Regular Co-Host section above. In my experience, audiences are more tolerant of dodgy audio quality from the guest than they are from the host. Recording yourself separately allows you to keep your own recording quality high, without forcing your guest to become an instant podcast expert.
Use a third-party recording client.
There are some turn-key solutions out there if you want something a bit more profesh-looking. They’re all similar, giving you a link to provide your guest so they can log in just like a video call. The software usually records high-quality audio at both ends (on both your and your guest’s computer). This adds some redundancy if one of your computers decides to burst into flames mid-interview. If you're interviewing a high-profile guest, sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to ask for a redo.
Of course the downside is that you’re paying for the privilege. If this is going to be a “once in a while” dealie, rather than an “every week” dealie, you’re probably better off looking at other options.
Some more tips:
Again, it really helps if your guest is using a decent microphone. Some podcasters will go as far as shipping their guest a microphone to borrow, and then shipping to get their microphone back. That’s not a terrible idea if you have the budget, and the time! But ensuring your guest is in a nice quiet area, away from other noise and close to the microphone will really help.
Other than what we’ve spoken about, there really is no difference in recording your podcast from opposite sides of the world compared to opposite sides of the room. So if distance is a problem for you and your guests or your co-hosts, why not give remote podcasting a shot?
Need some help? I can! Head over to my podcasting page, or check out more how-to articles.
Chris Plumridge is a freelance audio producer, voiceover artist and writer from Leongatha in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.