Home > Computers and the Internet > More About PodCasts

More About PodCasts

June 30th, 2005

Well, I was successful (I think) in creating an RSS feed and the iTunes Music Store said they accepted my submission–but it’s been more than a day and I still don’t show up in a keyword search in iTunes. So the success is tentative. I only prepared one item, and that was a 3-minute reading of my last entry, with a bit of music slapped onto it. It was not so much an audio blog as it was a test. If I start doing audio blogs, they’ll be a bit more original and hopefully more interesting (and better-read) than that one. If you happen to listen to it, keep in mind that it’s a throw-away.

In trying to figure out how it’s done, I came across my pet peeve: documentation. In this case, it’s not a lack of documentation, it’s a lack of complete documentation. For example, in order to produce my own RSS feed, I had to search for a few hours just to find someone who wrote down the simple fact that an RSS feed file had to have an “.xml” extension! A vital piece of information, one that most newcomers will not know, and yet most people trying to help beginners will not even mention it. What are people thinking? Enough information should be given so that, from start to finish, a newbie can complete the task and, hopefully, understand all the elements. Maybe this is just obvious to me since I teach beginners how to use computers, but it seems like something one should know if one wants to help others do stuff.

So here, I will try to tell you how to get a podcast feed going. Keep in mind, however, that I have just learned and I may have made an error or two, especially where I was forced to assume something, and then it seemed to work. If I find that I erred, I’ll try to revise and update. Also keep in mind that I am working on a Mac (so recording solutions will concentrate on that) and you must have a web site with your own domain that you can upload to. But here’s what I figured out so far.

First, I tried a plug-in to Movable Type, called MT-Enclosures. Couldn’t get it to work. Usual reason, spotty documentation. Followed all the directions given, and nothing happened. Even tried leaving a comment on the page describing my problems, and no reply. So I abandoned the attempt to have MT auto-feed the podcast, and instead went for the manual approach, which I’ll use until someone comes out with a podcast solution that works without your having to be a hacker to get it to do its job. Again, I fell into the pit of despair you find when everyone assumes you’ve had several months of training when they tell you how to do things. One commercial site even had a video of a guy telling you, the average Joe, the layman, how to do it. He told us to make our show, and then… promptly assumed we’d be able to follow labyrinthine steps simply because he told us a web site to go to, without even telling us what page we needed to visit or even the basics about what steps you should take. Another dead end.

But as I noted, in the end, I finally got something done. Let me go over a few things.


I should note that I use a Mac and that’s what my advice for recording will center on; you’ll have to look for your own recording apps for Windows.

First of all, you need your MP3 file. To make one, I used two programs: SoundEdit (to record and edit) and QuickTime Pro (to convert to MP3). But don’t expect to be able to download SoundEdit; while it is an excellent program for recording and editing sound, it is a Classic app, about a decade old. It’s a great app, but you probably won’t be able to find it anywhere; Macromedia stopped selling it last year. There’s a freeware app for recording sound, Sound Recorder, which is an ultra-simple no-frills audio recorder, though when I tried it, it played back with an annoying reverb/echo. You’ll need a converter to change the file to mp3.

Then there’s shareware, probably SndSampler would work okay, but the interface is a bit less than intuitive, and the 15-day free trial version is marred by the constant (not to mention hostile!) “reminders” to pay for the product, which interrupt the program for ten seconds at a time every few minutes, making the program very unattractive to use in trial mode. You also cannot save as an MP3 file, unless your version of QuickTime supports that, so again, a converter is required. Fee is $30.

A much better shareware option is WireTap Pro ($19). It will record not only audio you input, but also any audio coming in on your Mac, such as streaming audio from Real, QuickTime, iTunes or any other source. Unfortunately, the trial version does not allow saving in MP3 format or recording via your built-in mic or audio-in line; if you try, your recording will have a “this is an unregistered version” recording dubbed over it. Also, it does not allow for editing or applying effects such as fade-ins and fade-outs. But twenty bucks for this kind of an app is not bad.

For the experience of a commercial sound recording/editing app like SoundEdit, the choice today seems to be Peak LE, a $99 app with a 15-day free trial. It also has reminders, but very quick ones, and only at program startup and when you save an app. This program has a bit more of a learning curve than SndSampler, but it’s not so bad. It also does not come with built-in MP3 support, but you can add it relatively easily: go to http://homepage.mac.com/awk/lame/ and download the bundle, then install it as a plug-in via the app’s “Get Info” window in order to save as an MP3. Peak is a good app, but the problem with the LE version is that all the features in the pro version are in the menus but always grayed out–as if to tease you constantly about what you could have if you only shelled out 500 bucks.

None of these, however, compares well at all with SoundEdit 16 in terms of convenience, power, and ease-of-use (at least in the manner I use the app). So as long as I have a Mac which can use SoundEdit, I’ll continue using that app.


As I said, using one of the services available (either MT-Enclosures or one of the web sites that offer a solution) can be problematic at best. There may be a simple, workable solution I haven’t found. There are services which say they will host your podcast, but I prefer to try to host my own, to avoid ads, spam and to be able to control my own media. If you want to get a domain, you might try GoDaddy, and then go to Surpass Hosting to get the domain hosted. You’ll need to use an FTP program to upload the podcast and the RSS file to your web site. You could use Fetch, Captain FTP (Shareware), or FTP Thingy or PW FTP (both freeware; PW FTP is off-line at the current time).

The RSS feed file will be a simple text file containing some script. It can be given any filename, so long as the filename extension is .xml. Open a text editor and type the information, or copy and paste from an example.

The basics: the file should begin with <?xml version=”1.0″?> to identify it as an XML file.

The file should begin and end with the RSS tag:

<rss version="2.0"> </rss>

However, if you want to upload to iTunes, you’ll have to add an iTunes xml attribute:

<rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/DTDs/Podcast-1.0.dtd" version="2.0"> </rss>

Within the RSS, you have a "channel." This decribes your podcast in general. Within the channel tag, you’ll have "item" tags, each one decribing a specific podcast. The podcast file is identified by the "enclosure" tag. The basic structure, without attributes, looks like this:


Within each channel and item, there will have to be tags to designate various information points about the podcast. The tags for the channel include:

<title> – The title of the podcast “show,” the general name
<link> – A link to the web page for the podcast
<description> – A description of the show (preferably small, 256 characters or less)
<language> – Which language it is in (I’m guessing here)
<category> – What category you’d put your show in
<image> – What image you’d like associated with the podcast.
<pubDate> – The most recent date of publication for the show.
<lastBuildDate> – The most recent date the RSS file was rebuilt.
<copyright> – a copyright message
<webMaster> – your email address
<ttl> – how many minutes a subscriber should wait between refreshing the rss feed from your site

These are straight tags with no attributes; just put the information between these tags and their end tags (same tag, preceded by a slash).

Tags for the item include:

<guid> – uniquely identifies the location of each podcast (I don’t pretend to understand this one at all)
<pubDate> – The date of publication for the podcast.
<enclosure> – the address of the podcast

The “enclosure” tag requires attributes:

url – address of the podcast
length – the length of the podcast in bytes. Do a get info on the file to find this out. Don’t use commas.
type – identifies the type of file; for an mp3, it would be “audio/mpeg”.

Therefore, an enclosure tag might look like:

<enclosure url=”http://www.blogd.com/podcasts/blogdpod1.mp3″ length=”1807241″ type=”audio/mpeg” />

iTunes also asks you to add some special iTunes tags:


These are explained in Apple’s specification file [PDF]. Mostly they are stand-alone tags, with the target information between the start and end tags (such as <itunes:author>Luis</itunes:author>); others have the target information within an attribute, namely the <itunes:category> tag, which seems a bit complicated. The “itunes:owner” tag appears at the Channel level only; the “itunes:duration” and “itunes:keyword” tags appear at the item level only. All other tags can appear at the channel or item level.

If you want a quick and dirty, non-iTunes-optimized RSS feed, you could go here and type in the basic information to get a basic RSS feed text output. But you will probably want to tinker with the RSS code, especially for the iTunes store. Here is an example script (you may want to right-click the link and download the targeted file, otherwise your browser might read the RSS file as such) which I’ve tried to keep simple. The example script uses my own blog and podcast data, so if you use this, you’ll want to change that.

When you’re finished, save the rss file as plain text, and give it a name with the “.xml” extension (for example, “podcast.xml”).

Later, after you’ve succeeded with the first one, you can add new podcasts to the feed simply by adding more “item” tag groups, one for each podcast.


Now you have to upload the mp3 file and the rss feed. Open your FTP program, then upload the files into the directories you decide are best. At this point, I do not believe that any directory is better than any other. I have placed my RSS feed into my main directory, and my podcasts into a subdirectory. So long as all you URLs are given correctly, I don’t think that should be a problem.

The next step is to validate the feed you have created. Go to the Feed Validator page, type in the address of your RSS feed file, and then validate it. If a problem is found, you will be told the line and the general problem, though not necessarily a solution. The validator will only correct one error at a time, so for each error, you will have to go back to the text editor, correct the error, re-save the file, and re-upload it, then you can go back to the validator and try to validate again. Once all your errors have been corrected (or the lines simply edited out), the validator will tell you that your feed is valid.

Once that’s been accomplished, now you have to tell people about the existence of your feed. To do that at the iTunes Music Store, you must open iTunes, go to the Music Store. While no membership is required to get podcasts, but you do need membership to publish! Membership is free, and publishing doesn’t cost anything, but you will need a credit card with a billing address in a country with an iTMS in order to get the account.

On the main page of the iTMS, click on the “Podcasts” link; then click the “Publish a Podcast” link. You will be taken through a process where you will give the URL of the feed file, log in to your iTMS account, and then you’ll get a page to confirm your settings.

You can check if the feed works independent of your podcast listing at the iTMS by going into iTunes, choosing “Subscribe to Podcast…” in the “Advanced” menu, and typing in the URL of the feed directly. That won’t tell you anything about whether or not the iTunes store has started publishing your podcast, but it will tell you if the feed and the podcast are working. Otherwise, you might try out iPodder, a podcast subscription client.

And that’s it–so far as I now know. Let me know if you see an error in what I just wrote, and I will try to keep this page updated.

Categories: Computers and the Internet Tags: by
  1. YouKnowWho
    July 2nd, 2005 at 02:46 | #1

    Will you have a link on your site next to the title, for example, that says something like “here audio version of post” that one can click to hear it?

  2. BlogD
    July 2nd, 2005 at 02:50 | #2

    I might do that–I might have a little speaker icon I’ll put up in the title area. But remember, I might not podcast about the same thing I blog about.

  3. YouKnowWho
    July 2nd, 2005 at 07:08 | #3

    How difficult is it to do video as well as audio?

    Folks like watching commentators on tv, even though one can agrue the audio is what is important. Some would argue the image is just as important.

    Are you visually shy?

  4. BlogD
    July 2nd, 2005 at 13:58 | #4

    It’s a lot more difficult to do video than audio. You need a place that is well-lit and where the background is appropriate. You need to be dressed and groomed (usually). You need to have the equipment and operate it. You need to transfer the video to a computer, then edit it. You need perhaps titles and transitions. You will need to tie up your computer for long periods of time compressing the movie. Then you need more bandwidth and disk storage space to host it, and it takes a lot more time for the viewer to download it.

    Doing audio is easy. You can be dressed as you like, appearance is not important, all you need is a relatively quiet place. What you record goes directly onto a computer, where it is easier and faster to edit. I can also edit my performance better; with video, I’d have to deliver a performance flawlessly for minutes; with audio, if you screw up, just go back to the last pause between senetences and crop, then start from there.

    All in all, audio is far easier than video.

  5. July 3rd, 2005 at 02:11 | #5

    Hey Luis…downloaded and subscribed:) My only suggestion is to slow down a bit.

    This sentance “But today, Apple released iTunes v. 4.9, which includes podcasting just as it does Internet radio and its popular music store, as a source of media beyond your personal collection ripped from CDs.” I could really tell you were running out of breath towards the end. It’s better to take a breath somewhere in the middle, than to get the “ohdeargodrunningoutofbreathsoundthathappensattheendofasentance”


    Otherwise, you have a GREAT voice for audio. Seriouslly.

  6. BlogD
    July 3rd, 2005 at 02:16 | #6


    Thanks! It’s very nice of you to say so. But I think it’s more of an NPR voice than a standard radio voice. I’m just afraid of putting people to sleep…

  7. July 3rd, 2005 at 08:48 | #7

    “But I think it’s more of an NPR voice than a standard radio voice.”

    ROFLMAO that actually was the first thing I thought when I started listening. Just don’t start talking about Lake Wobegone;)

  8. JPH
    November 7th, 2005 at 07:17 | #8

    The Apple iTunes podcast specfication has moved to here: http://phobos.apple.com/static/iTunesRSS.html

    iTunes can covert an .aiff into an .mpg. (or .aac or .wav; changed via Preferences -> Advanced tab -> Importing -> Import Using:) Just drag the file you want to convert to your library, then control-click and choose the “Convert Selection to MP3” option.

    Helpful article. I found it by Googling ’cause the tag had me puzzled.

    Also, in Firefox 1.0.7 on Mac, all your Harry Potter links get shoved below your content div.

  9. Luis
    November 7th, 2005 at 08:13 | #9

    Thanks for the update–I’d kind of given up on podcasting for the time being, Maybe I’ll get back to it sometime in the near future.

    “all your Harry Potter links get shoved below your content div”

    That’s usually because your screen resolution is too narrow, or just the window for Firefox is. Try expanding it to full width, the right sidebar should pop back up. Either that, or decrease the text size one or two steps.

    When I designed this site, I admit I did it in bias of screens wider than 800 pixels.

Comments are closed.