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SUNY Erie Library Resource Center


A comprehensive guide to help SUNY Erie students, faculty and staff users navigate the world of podcasting--tools (and guide;) complements of your SUNY Erie Library Resource Center!

The Setup

In the summer of 2023, the SUNY Erie Library Resource Center updated its loanable tech collection with the purchase of state-of-the-art podcasting equipment, and installed the recording software suite, Audacity, on 3 of our loaner laptops, essentially creating a user-ready and—with the help of this guide—user-friendly podcasting station.

The Hardware: Rode NT-USB Mini USB Microphone Kit

Works with Your Setup
  • The mic will operate with both Mac and Windows computers, no special driver downloads are required.

  • You can also use it with smartphones and tablets, so long as you have the compatible adapter for mobile devices (available separately).

  • No preamp, interface, converters, or mixer are necessary for recording your voice.

  • The included stand is more than a stand—it isolates the NT-USB Mini from structurally borne noises and vibrations; this delivers a cleaner sound. 

  • If you want to take the mic off the stand, this is easy, as its magnetically attached. A 5/8 to 3/8" thread adapter ensures you can mount NT-USB Mini on nearly any mic stand.

Designed for the Spoken Word

  • The NT-USB Mini's condenser capsule is tuned by RODE to capture both the warmth and the presence of your voice, giving your recordings the heft they need to cut through the fray.

  • It will do so, while minimizing noise in the room, thanks to its cardioid polar pattern, which naturally focuses audio spoken directly into the mic while tamping down any sound to the back or sides.

  • An internal windscreen filters out vocal plosives to help you capture a clean recording, one that sounds professional right out of the gate.

  • The mic records audio at 24-bit/48 kHz, giving you the broadcast standard for how many samples it can record in a second, and providing a high degree of dynamic range. A non-techy translation: this microphone is well suited for picking up the nuances of your voice.

The Software: Audacity

Some Important Considerations: Format & "Shape"

As you decide how you will frame and convey your story to your audience, it can be helpful to consider the vast sea of examples that are already out there.

The following list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of podcast formats or types, merely an overview of some of the most commonly used non-fiction/documentary story shapes and formats. Many podcasts also blend components of several of these structures quite effectively. 


  • One track featuring solo voice—hopefully a compelling speaker—without much supporting material (akin to the format of Talk Radio)
  • Might include interlude music or other breaks for the sake of variety
  • Examples: The Memory Palace and Hardcore History

Interview (Basic)

Interview (Intermediate)

  • Evidence of some basic editing to remove particles (ums, ahs, etc), possibly some restructuring of clips to create or clarify a narrative in post-production
  • Might have a break in the middle for a change of pace (or to run an advertisement)
  • Example: WTF (Marc Maron), How to Science

Interview (Elaborate)

  • Evidence of more advanced editing, the addition of music or sound effects throughout, inclusion of multiple voices, etc.
  • Sometimes styled as a conversation after the fact in post-production (e.g., a host records a question they didn’t ask the interviewee directly, but to which the interviewee’s statements contain the answer). This is done for emphasis and clarity. Other times, the episode is styled as a conversation between a host and a reporter/producer, who "tells the story" to the host in such a way that it includes all these other sonic elements.
  • Example: Many of the more polished and popular podcasts out there fall into this category, but Reply All is one example of this kind of style.

Conversation Among Hosts

  • Could have elements of all of the above, but its core structure is a conversation among multiple regular hosts/contributors (similar to a panel discussion)
  • Example: How to Survive the End of the World (Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown)

Narration/Voiceover + Interviews + Other Audio

  • The voiceover provides the narrative structure for the story (the ‘glue’ or throughline)
  • “Picking and choosing” pieces from the interview(s) and other audio clips to add dimension to the story
  • Example: This American Life, 99% Invisible, Radiolab

Non-Narrated Podcasts

  • A type of story where the voices of people in the story comprise most, if not all, of the story itself. While it may be edited by a producer, the story features little to no narration by that producer.
  • Examples: Snap Judgment, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries 

Performance Presentation

  • A recording of a live presentation of some kind (poem, reading, interview from live event, etc) that is ‘wrapped’ with a voiceover before and after to contextualize, and/or summarize it
  • Example: The Moth

Fictional Narrative Podcasts

  • Reminiscent and often inspired by the radio dramas popular throughout much of the 20th Century, these shows either create original dramatic content or adapt existing written content to the audio drama format. Elements can vary among shows, but most will include multiple voice actors for different roles and sound design, including music, ambience, and sound effects.
  • Examples: Welcome to Night ValePassenger List, The Truth