How To Podcast Your Preaching

In Four Easy(-ish) Steps

STEP THREE:  Edit and Export to mp3

Almost certainly the audio file you recorded while you preached includes some extra sound at the beginning and end (whatever was recorded between the moment you pressed the “Record” button in the sacristy and the time you began your homily, and the same for the end), which you should remove so that all you post on the internet is the preaching.  This means you will need to do some “audio editing.”

Audio editing may sound fairly daunting, and to be honest, as we proceed through these steps, we are climbing the ladder of difficulty requiring a bit more computer savvy with each task.  Having said that, audio editing is similar in many ways to word processing.  If you can hearken back to the first time you learned how to use Microsoft Word, learning how to select words you don’t like by dragging the mouse over them and confidently hitting the Delete key, be assured that after a bit of a learning curve you will be able to use audio-editing software as proficiently as you now do your word processor.

First, you’ll need a software application that can edit audio files–just like MS Word edits text files.  I highly recommend Audacity for several reasons: (1) it’s FREE; (2) it is cross-platform, meaning it comes in versions for both PC and Mac users; (3) many other podcasting How-To websites and books use it for demonstrating tips and techniques, so it will be easy to find more info than I am able to provide here; (4) it has a cool name and logo (see above).  Download it (free) for Mac OS X by clicking here or for Windows XP by clicking here.

Open the Audio File

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Audacity, you should go to its Preferences screen.  Under the “Quality” tab, make sure the “Default Sample Rate” is 44100 Hz  and the “Default Sample Format” is 32-bit float.

Now you’re ready to open the sound file that you transferred to your computer in step 2.  From within the Audacity program, select “Open” from the File menu.  This will let you navigate to the where the file is.  By default, DSS Player (step 2) stores the files here:  if you have a Mac, go to the “Documents” Folder (in Windows:  “My Documents”, and instead of folders, they’re called directories–but they LOOK like folders), then go to the folder named “DSS Player”, then the “Message” folder, then the particular folder in which you recorded your preaching (if you didn’t choose this on the voice recorder, it will record into “Folder A” by default).  Inside Folder A, you may see several files.  If you followed the instructions for re-naming the file in step 2, you should now be able to easily find the one you need.  Be sure it is either a “.aif” (Mac) or a “.wav” (Windows) file, otherwise Audacity probably won’t be able to open it.

Seeing Sound
When your audio file opens in Audacity you’ll see a bunch of blue squiggles called the “waveform” (see below).  This is a graphic representation of the sounds you made while preaching.  The numbers along the top of the waveform are the running time; this shows how long your audio file is in minutes:seconds.  Place your cursor anywhere in the blue waveform and click on the green arrow “play” button in the top of the window to listen to the sound (or just hit the space bar to play; hit it again to stop).

The cursor line should begin to move to the right.  If you don’t hear anything, make sure you have speakers hooked up to your computer and that the volume is turned up.  Laptops usually have speakers built in or a place to plug in headphones.

So now you need to figure out where the actual homily begins. You may need to zoom in or out (use the View menu for this).  Once you find the blue bumps which represent the beginning of the homily, place the cursor line just before this point (to the left of it).  From the “Edit” Menu, choose “Select” and then from the drop-down menu that appears choose “Start to Cursor.”  There should now be a section from the beginning of the file to the beginning of the homily that is highlighted in grey (see right).

This grey section is the part you want to “edit out,” or delete.  You can now just hit the Delete or Backspace key and it will disappear–or you can go to the Edit Menu and choose “Delete” (see below).

Once you have deleted the beginning of the file, it’s a good time to save your Audacity project by selecting “Save Project As…” under the File Menu.  It will ask you where you want to save it just like any program does.  **WARNING:  make sure you save this file in the place where you intend it to stay (the desktop is not a good place) because Audacity actually creates a folder of several smaller audio files that it uses for your one “project” and it is VERY finicky about them all still being in the same location the next time you open the project.  If you move the folder after you save it, the sound in your Audacity file may mysteriously disappear (one of the limitations of it being a free program).**

Now, back to editing:  to delete whatever sounds follow the homily, repeat the above select-and-delete procedure, except this time you should place the cursor at the very end of the homily and then choose “Cursor to End” from the “Select” drop-down menu under the Edit Menu.  Alternately, you can place the cursor and then drag the mouse manually to create the grey selected area just like you would select a word or sentence in a word processor.

If you’d like to do a little more with your podcast than simply post the homily by itself, for instance if you would like to introduce it, or add theme music, or tell people where your church is, you’ll need to delve a little deeper into the world of podcast production.  Learn more about how to use Audacity by clicking here.  For even more tutoring, I highly recommend the book, Podcast Solutions. It’s one of the best-sellers, is written for beginners, and comes with many more step-by-step instructions and recommendations for equipment and techniques than I can include here.

Well, you have one last thing to do to conclude step 3.  You must export your finished work in yet another audio file format called mp3.  (If you’ve been keeping track, you recorded in .dss format, converted to either .aif or .wav when transferring to your computer, edited in Audacity’s .aup project file format, and now are trying to export in .mp3 … yikes!)  But mp3 files are the standard used on the internet for most songs and podcasts, so we do need this last conversion step.  In order for Audacity to be able to export to mp3, you must go through a one-time installation procedure that will not have to be repeated for future editing sessions.  Download the LAME encoder (don’t ask!) from the internet by clicking here.

Once that’s installed, go to the File Menu and choose “Export as MP3” (not “Export Selection as MP3”).  It will probably ask you to “Find the LAME library.”  Again, it will only ask you this the first time; after that this part will go quicker.  Navigate to the LAME encoder you just downloaded, probably in the “Audacity” folder in the Applications Folder (“Program Files” directory in Windows).  Click on the file called “LameLib” and it should be happy.  You will then be presented with the dialogue box you see below.  This is to embed certain information into your mp3 file that will let people search for and find it, and so it will display properly on an iPod screen or other audio playing device.

In the Title field, put in the title of this particular homily.  It could be a creative title or simply “24th Sunday OT, year B.”  The Artist should be you (or whoever was the preacher, if you’re dong this for someone else).  Under Album (these were designed for songs), you can put whatever you call your homily podcast, like “Father Dave Preaches the Word,”  or “St. Agnes Sunday Homilies.”

When you click “OK” it will usually take several minutes to make the conversion.  After it’s complete, you are finally ready for STEP FOUR on the next page.