Volume 8 Issue 3 - The Making
of a Podcast (Part 2)
By: Virgil E. Varvel Jr.
Keywords: Podcast, Audio Recording,
Syndication, RSS, mp3
In part 1, we made an MP3 file and uploaded it
onto a Web server. Those were all pretty easy steps, and it continues as
we head to step 5. This step can be easy, but it can also require programming,
depending on how you want to handle it.
Step 5: Creating Your Feed
In order for others to subscribe to your podcast,
you need to have an RSS feed that provides information about your podcast.
This RSS feed is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file that is updated
with each additional podcast episode. The feed is a text file that provides
specific information about the audio file that is used by various programs
such as iTunes to describe and subscribe to the feed. Each time a new audio
file is added, the RSS feed is updated with information about the new file
so that subscribers can automatically download the new episode. But you have
to first create this XML file somewhere, somehow, and then have a method
for updating this XML file everytime that you add a new audio file or episode
to your podcast. There are at least three ways that you can accomplish this
1. The easy and completely out of your hands method.
The easiest way to handle your pod cast is to pay for a service
where you can serve your files and run your xml feed. You basically upload
your files to their server and run a program to create and maintain your
podcast. The directions for using the tool will be different depending on
the site, but the process is usually intuitive and simple.
With a podcasting service, there are many issues involved.
Many of the issues outlined below will affect how much you pay for your hosting:
- Check copyright issues, such as whether they claim any ownership rights
to what you publish on their site.
- What are the bandwidth limitations? If you have large files and expect
a lot of visitors, you will need a large bandwidth allowance. More bandwidth
= more cost.
- What are the storage limitations? Depending on the length of your podcast,
the quality of your files, and how often you post a new file, you can use
up a lot of space quickly. More storage = more cost.
- How easy to use is their rss feed creation tool, if they have one?
Not all inclusive list of sample postcast hosting solutions:
- Switchpod, http://www.switchpod.com/
- Podbean, http://www.podbean.com/
- Creative Commons, http://creativecommons.org/
- Liberated Syndication, http://libsyn.com/
- Blue Host, http://www.bluehost.com/
- iPod Networks, http://www.ipodnetworks.com/
- PCast Baby, http://www.pcastbaby.com/
- Jellycast, http://www.jellycast.com/
- CyberEars, http://www.cyberears.com/
- Podcast Spot, http://www.podcastspot.com/
- Podomatic, http://www.podomatic.com/
- AV My Podcast, http://www.avmypodcast.com/
- GoDaddy, https://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/pod/landing.asp?ci=9011
- A nice but beginning to be dated comparison list of podcast servers can
be found at http://www.okaytoplay.com/wiki/Podcast_Hosting.
2. The easy but you have to have a Web server method.
This method entails nothing new over the method above, except that rather
than serving your audio off of someone else's server, you serve it off of
your own. This can help resolve many ownership and copyright issues, and
may be cheaper depending on the amount of bandwidth you will be needing.
3. The hard but completely under your control method.
There are two hard ways to do everything yourself. The really
hard way is to create your own database for storing your podcast information
and other pages that enter information into the database or display the information
in an rss feed.
a. For this method, you start with a Web server where you can store your
b. You then need your own database server in order to automate your rss feed
creation. You can use MySQL for a free solution if you know PHP.
c. Next, you create a Web page using SQL and ASP or some other language in
order to update your rss feed. This page includes an entry form where you
enter the required information for your podcast. The information is then
input into a table in your database.
d. Another .asp page can then be created that pulls information out of the
database and formats it for an rss feed. This page becomes your podcast.
If the text above makes absoluted no sense to you, then it
is probably not the method that you should choose, but I'll try to help explain
it a bit more. An RSS/XML feed for a Podcast is just a formatted Web page
where certain 'tags' are used to tell users certain things about the files
linked by the feed. For a podcast, there are very specific tags that you
use as outlined below.
First, the page begins and ends with <rss> and </rss> in order
to tell a browser what type of page it is. You may also need additional tags
to tell the browser about the type of xml code being used. Here is a sample.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<?xml-stylesheet title="XSL_formatting" type="text/xsl" href="/rss/rss.xsl"?>
You then need code to connect to the database where your feed
data is stored. This code is usually one line and will vary depending on
the database and connection type used.
Then, to put in the podcast, you start with the channel tag
and all of the subtags that describe the content. Below is an example from
ION Frontiers. More in iTunes specific tags can be found on the iTunes Website.
<copyright>℗ & © 2007 Virgil Varvel</copyright>
<itunes:subtitle>Frontiers, the online and distance education podcast</itunes:subtitle>
<itunes:summary>Frontiers is a show about the past, present, and future
of online and distance education. The formats of the shows will vary to include
interviews, commentary, current news, and other information in brief.</itunes:summary>
<description>News, reviews, and commentary on the past, present, and future
of distance education, Frontiers is a periodic podcast from ION and Virgil Varvel.</description>
<itunes:image href="http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/Frontiers/Images/LogoGraphic.jpg" />
<itunes:category text="Educational Technology" />
<itunes:category text="Higher Education" />
Next, you code each individual mp3 file by pulling it's information from
strSQL = "SELECT * FROM Podcast ORDER BY PubDate DESC"
Set objRec = CreateObject("ADODB.Recordset")
objRec.Open strSQL, MM_connMVCRv5_STRING
while not objRec.eof
<enclosure url="<%=objRec("URL")%>" length="<%=objRec("length")%>" type="audio/mpeg" />
<pubDate><%=fncFmtDate(objRec("pubDate"), "%a, %d %b
%Y %H:%N:%N CST")%></pubDate>
If you do not have a database, or the programming skills necessary
to create the pages for entry of information into the database, you can also
simply update the xml page manually each time you add a file. In other words,
you keep the same tags in the text above, but anywhere you see <%...%>, you
simply hand enter the information. Here are some keys to entering the information
- The most important line is the <enclosure> information.
- The URL can be
- The length is in bytes. You can find this information by looking at the
info field of the file. On a PC, right click on the file and select properties
to see the length in bytes.
- The type depends on the file being links. For mp3, it is audio/mpeg
- Duration is in minutes and seconds, such a 5:30
You then end the page with ending tags.
You can see this feed at http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/Frontiers/index.asp
Step 6: Advertising Your Podcast
How can you let everyone know about your podcast? There are
- One way is simply to use one of the services listed above.
When you put a podcast on their site, several of the services will post
the podcast to various indexes.
- For sites like iTunes, you need to actively tell them about your podcast.
- You can also advertise your site on various podcast aggregators such
as Yahoo Podcasts, Bloglines, PodNova, Google, and Newsgator.
- And you can simply give people the URL to your RSS feed.
If you stay to the basics, you can have a podcast up and running
in very little time. Just be sure to make a plan and try to follow it.