How podcasting on my phone made my life better

I love podcasts. Not just because they are handy ways to listen to interviews or consume interesting information, but because of how much easier they make my life as a journalist.

Rather than typing up notes on my laptop during an interview, I can have a conversation with someone and record it. In the past, I seldom used the recordings I routinely made during interviews because it took so long to transcribe them.

For a few years, I used a transcription service (which wasn’t cheap) but then came AI transcription websites. Take your recorded .mp3 and upload it. Within 15 minutes, you have a pretty good transcript of that conversation. These days there are numerous such offerings, but I have been team Otter.ai for a good while now. The entry-level price of $10 – or R186 – a month seems steep, I know, but I often subscribe for a month or two and then unsubscribe until I need it again.

It also means I get two different work products, a podcast and an article, with minimum effort. I call this lazy journalism. But then again, I am a high-functioning lazy person.

For the last few years, I have used a dedicated recorder – made by a Japanese firm called Zoom, which predates the Covid-era software of the same name. I also schlepped a pair of Sennheiser microphones (and XLR cables) with me. I have flown to New York and Nairobi with these and was always aggrieved at the extra weight that made my backpack that much heavier.

But technology moves on, and often very swiftly.

Read More: 6 podcasts for your business brain

I was showing a friend yesterday (let’s call him Lyal) how I no longer carry an extra 2kg of audio gear for podcasts. Instead, I use lapel mics, known in the audio industry as lavalier mics, that connect to a USB-C or Lightning port. I’ve been using an excellent Sennheiser lapel mic with a Lightning adaptor and recently bought another with USB-C that I use with my iPad or MacBook. They weigh less than 100 grams together.

I can still record podcasts with ease – as I did with Workday’s Sayan Chakraborty in November – but I save myself from schlepping that extra gear.

As I was telling my friend, a friend of his (let’s call her Za) asked which mics to use.

There’s a brand called Boya, which makes the BY-M3 clip-on USB-C lavalier mic, and a Lightning connector BY-M2 model. They’re both on Takealot.com.

I use the Motiv Audio app from Shure for recording. It’s good and connects to Dropbox, which I use to upload and send to Stuff’s genius director of audio, Hans Baumgarten, for editing. Motiv is available on both Apple and Android.

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