On to the show...

Podcast in Audacity

Keep an eye on the audio levels in your recording program, but wear headphones to monitor the sound so you know what it will sound like. Other than that, let the software do its job.

Before you get started recording your actual show, run a few sample recordings. A bad technical error or undesired background noise can ruin an otherwise good recording. So start with some samples, test the software, adjust volume levels and just make sure everything works.

Next, set the sample rates and audio preferences for your recording. In Audacity, click File -> Preferences, then click the Quality tab. For just voice recordings, anything higher than 44.1KHz and 16-bit sampling is overkill for most people. If you have music as an important part of your show, then you should consider higher rates or the music will be of an unacceptably low quality. For an example of GarageBand settings, check the picture below. If you are given the option as to what file type to export, make it an mp3. In Audacity, you will have this option before you record. In GarageBand, you will do it after recording.

As for the choice between stereo and mono, it's up to you. Keep in mind: With stereo, you will certainly have a better sound - and it's absolutely recommended if you are somehow recording with more than one audio input (two microphones, for example) - but the file size will be substantially larger. In mono, the sound won't be as strong - so you will have to make sure your natural recording volume is louder - but the file size will be much smaller, making your podcast easier to download.

GarageBand Podcast settings

Make sure your gain is fairly low and that you have on any possible speech enhancers that play to your weaknesses.

While you're recording...

Keep an eye on your levels. In GarageBand, when the darker color fills up the entire bar, you're too loud. If it looks like you're flatlining, you're not nearly loud enough. Talk normal, but adjust where you speak in relation to the microphone.

If you're podcasting with other people, agree on predetermined hand signals to give an idea when someone needs to adjust the volume of their voice. If possible, make sure you're wearing headphones so you can monitor the volume of your voice -- as well as the voices of your fellow podcasters.

You don't even need fancy studio headphones (although that's recommended if you have a set lying around). The headphones you use to listen to your iPod will do fine in this case.

Also, don't be afraid to stop recording if it's not going well. A late podcast is only late until it comes out. A rushed podcast is rushed forever.

Take time away during the recording to think of new ideas and new places to take the conversation you're having. If someone says something that needs to be removed from the show, don't be afraid to stop recording, edit it out and jump back into recording.

That's another reason it's so important to monitor your recording via headphones -- you can pick up on background noises, including the notorious heavy breathing that plagues so many podcasts.

In the alligatorSports Podcast, we've had to deal with several issues in this regard. Specifically, we record on an unbalanced table, and if the table sways, it alters the sound in many regards. Also, if someone hits the table, the results are borderline catastrophic. If someone swears, we make a note of the timestamp and immediately edit out the word(s) as soon as we finish recording that segment (we are trying to be fairly family-friendly, after all).