Podmasters is a weekly column where staff writers Andrea Alfano and Laura Rosenfeld highlight the podcasts you need in your life. Every week, they tackle a new genre, recommending everything from well-known series to little-listened-to-gems that will make you laugh, cry and learn.
This week, Laura Rosenfeld previews a new all-in-one podcast creation tool anyone with a Web browser can use.
Creating your own podcast can be a daunting experience. First, you have to come up with a compelling and original idea for a show. Then, you have to track down and acquire all of the equipment and software you need to record it. Finally, you've got to edit it, post it and promote it to the masses. That's a considerable amount of work for something you're probably not going to make a ton of money doing, at least at first.
Luckily, you can easily find tutorials and software at varying price points all over the Internet to help you get your next great podcast off the ground, but finding one tool that does it all is a bit more difficult.
Hoping to simplify things a bit is Randall Bennett, one of the co-founders of the new podcast creation tool Epishow, which just launched its public beta program Monday. Although software that helps you record, edit and share podcasts all in one already exists, Epishow is unique in that it isn't an app that you have to download but can access right when you boot up your Web browser.
To create a podcast right now using Epishow, all you have to do is head over to the tool's website, input your email address, and you will then be sent to a screen featuring a unique link that you can send to whomever you will be speaking with during the episode. Because of that, as Epishow is available in its public beta version today, it really only works as something of a browser-based audio and video messaging app with a one-to-one connection. Epishow only records and publishes the audio from the call. The video is just there so that users can see who they're talking to.
Epishow starts recording the podcast after both users have enabled their video and are ready to begin. When users are finished recording, they can either create a new show or attach the recording to an already existing podcast. Epishow then creates an RSS feed for the podcast, which users can then submit to iTunes to publish it.
"Because it's simpler to record these, I think people are going to do shorter shows more frequently, as opposed to the current format, which is like 45-minute podcasts once a week," Bennett said during a phone interview with T-Lounge. "I think this will make it so you can do a 15-minute show once a day, which actually is more interesting because you can be more focused."
The way Epishow is set up right now makes it especially beneficial for those in need of a tool to conduct interviews with people they're unable to be in the same room with. Epishow was created in part to make that process easier, especially since interviews are one of Bennett's favorite aspects of podcasts.
"My style is like interview-style shows. That's why we started with two people," Bennett said. "Interview-style shows are magic. Just think about when someone's vulnerable and they're telling you about themselves, there's magic in that."
The seed for Epishow was planted about 10 years ago, when Bennett, who had previously worked in TV as a video editor and producer, became a producer for Engadget's podcast. The various programs Bennett used to record interviews and edit them made the process of creating a podcast frustrating, he said.
Fast-forward to 2015, and Bennett looked to launch a new product for his company Vidpresso, which helps broadcasters incorporate social media into their live TV coverage. Bennett, along with co-founders Justin Carter and Pauli Ojala, came back to this idea of finding a way to make podcasting easier and more efficient.
"So, I was like, what if you could just do the entire podcast, end-to-end, all the way from recording the audio, editing the audio, sending it to iTunes; what if you could do that all in one tool?" Bennett said. "So, that's what Epishow's goal is. We're trying to make it so instead of having to use a billion tools to do your job, you can use our tool to do everything."
Because of the basic nature of Epishow, the tool is really meant for novice podcasters that have always been too intimidated to create a podcast or that just want something no-hassle to help them record, edit and distribute a podcast quickly, according to Bennett. If you're someone that's already making podcasts with a specific workflow, Epishow is probably not for you in its current state, Bennett stated. However, once Epishow officially launches, Bennett said he sees it as a tool that podcasters of all levels of expertise will be able to use.
Until then, Epishow has some kinks to work out. Launching Epishow's public beta on Monday was one of Bennett's short-term goals for the app. However, when he spoke with T-Lounge using Epishow the Friday before that, the call was unable to be completed probably because of the computer's distance from the Wi-Fi router, according to Bennett.
Still, bugs are always to be expected on the road to launching a new piece of software. Bennett said he intends on making sure Epishow is ready before its final version is released at some point in the future. He also stated he plans to introduce more features into the tool, such as an editing function, but as of now, he said he doesn't know how something like that would work or when it would be added. Bennett also hasn't decided whether or not users will have to pay to use Epishow when it is officially released.
Since Epishow is still a work in progress, Bennett and his team are open to user feedback, so much so that they want user preferences to help shape the kind of tool Epishow will eventually become. Epishow has a Slack chat room that anyone can join, in addition to forms to report bugs and provide feedback on the app's website.
"The way we're really going to build it is based on whoever uses it; every day you come in and use the software, we're going to build the feature that you want," Bennett said. "It's an open development process. We're trying to build it in public."
Accessibility is what Epishow is all about, after all.
Photo: Andréanne Germain | Flickr