Food Podcasting Podcasts

Easy Cook Bear – Episode 1

I’m proud to announce the launch of my new podcast, Easy Cook Bear.

Easy Cook Bear is a food and culture show about how we cook, connect, and create. My guests and I share stories, swap recipes, and explore the creative processes of people who make art, culture, food, music, and more.

I interview Antonius Wiriadjaja on the first episode of the show.

Antonius is an artist and educator. He cooks meals and turns them into face masks for his Instagram project @foodmasku.

Antonius was born in Jakarta, raised in Boston, and is currently based in New York City. He’s also a survivor of gun violence who blogged about his recovery.

Links to people and things referenced in the episode:


NY Times “5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now”: 

Antonius’s personal website:

ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) at NYU:

How I Survived a Gunshot to the Gut:

Merche Blasco:

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo: 

Krewe de Fromage:

Julie & Julia: 

Baldor Food:


Audio Podcasting Podcasts

How To Choose The Podcast Microphone That’s Right For You

The following is another guest post from Descript, a helpful software tool that I have been using to transcribe and edit the Design Future Now podcast from AIGA. This guide was written by Chris Zaldúa and originally published on the Descript Blog.

And FWIW, if you would like my recommendation for a microphone, I use a Blue Yeti Pro for most of my audio work.

The most important step towards building a successful podcast with an engaged audience is creating interesting, compelling content. But somewhere along the way, every podcaster will come to the same inevitable realization: If I’m going to take this seriously, I need a better microphone. 

The best podcast microphone is the podcast microphone that’s right for you. For the uninitiated, differentiating one microphone apart from another is no easy task. We’re here to help, so you can get back to the important stuff: creating great content, knowing it sounds great all the while.

To choose the right microphones for podcasting, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • How you’ll connect the microphone: USB (plug ‘n play) or XLR (requires additional hardware)
  • The difference in sensitivity between condenser and dynamic microphones
  • The space you usually record in
  • The number of people you’ll usually be recording

USB (plug ‘n play) vs. XLR (additional hardware) input

There’s a lot to be said for something that just works, and that’s why USB microphones are popular. USB ports are ubiquitous, so there’s a very good chance whatever you’re using to record your podcast has a USB port built in. XLR microphones require additional hardware — an audio interface or mixer — to connect to your computer, but offer flexibility and versatility that USB mics can’t match. Audio interfaces, used widely in professional recording studios, will add additional audio routing and processing capabilities to your recording setup.

USB microphones are plug ‘n play, so all you’ll need to do to get them up and running is make sure that you’ve selected the right microphone in the “Input” panel of your podcasting software. For Alban Brooke, head of marketing at podcast host Buzzsprout, that simplicity and ease of use goes a long way. “Your time should be spent podcasting, not learning how to record, edit, or upload your podcast,” he says.

One key benefit XLR mics offer over USB mics is the lower noise floor provided by the audio interface or mixer, which essentially acts as an external sound card. “Audio interfaces are a must for good sound,” says Kate Astrakhan, an audio engineer at professional podcasting agency Podcast Network Solutions. “Get an Audio Technica ATR2100 and a Behringer interface, and for less than $200, you have something that will give you professional quality sound,” she says.

Dynamic microphones pick up less sound than condenser microphones, but that can be a good thing

As far as podcast microphones go, the choice is between dynamic microphones or condenser microphones. Each is built differently, and if you’re so inclined, you can read more about the science that separates these two kinds of mics. Practically speaking, dynamic microphones are less sensitive to sound and more physically durable than condenser microphones. 

Dynamic microphones are capable of recording at far higher volumes than condenser microphones, which is why you’ll see the Shure SM-58 on concert stages worldwide. That’s not a selling point for podcasters — unless you’re recording on stage at a concert, which actually does sound like a great idea for a podcast.

Because of their lower sensitivity, dynamic microphones roll off some higher frequencies and produce a “warmer” sound, akin to a classic “broadcast” or “radio” sound. Condenser microphones capture more nuance in vocal recordings than dynamic microphones, which can lead to a richer, more natural sound.

The increased sensitivity of condenser mics comes with a tradeoff: you run the risk of recording background noise alongside all that added nuance. “Condenser microphones pick up a lot more nuance than dynamic microphones, but for many people, that means a condenser will pick up a lot more unwanted background noise,” says Buzzsprout’s Alban Brooke.

A good way to mitigate unwanted background noise is to pay close attention to the space where you record your podcast.

Your recording space matters — even more than you might think

For quality audio, the space in which you’re recording is just as important as a good microphone. Not taking recording space into account is the most common mistake up-and-coming podcasters make, says Podcast Network Solutions’ Toby Goodman. 

“The number one thing podcasters don’t take into consideration is the room in which they’re recording,” he says. “You could buy a top-of-the-line microphone, put it in a bad room, and it would be like buying a sports car and trying to drive it off a mountain — it just doesn’t work.” His colleague Kate Astrakhan agrees. “The key to selecting a good microphone is first making sure your room is full of soft surfaces, not hard surfaces,” she says. “Then even if you buy the cheapest USB microphone available, your sound will be better than it would be otherwise.”

Soft surfaces are the key to dampening sound reflections. Buzzsprout’s Alban Brooke recommends a simple solution: “Record where there’s a lot of soft material to soak up the sound — for a lot of podcasters, this means a walk-in closet,” he says. 

Might not be glamorous, but it definitely gets the job done.

Consider how many speakers you plan to record

When it comes time to record more than one person at once, it’s helpful to understand a microphone’s polar pattern. These patterns illustrate the directions in which a microphone picks up sound: in front and from both sides, but not the back, for instance. 

Most podcasters should stick with cardioid mics, for solo speakers recording directly into a mic, and bi-directional mics, which records two speakers in front and in back. Some microphones allow you to choose from different polar patterns, so take that into consideration if you plan on recording multiple speakers with one microphone.

If you regularly record with additional speakers — if your podcast features a local co-host that records with you in person, for example — then investing in an audio interface is a must. Pick up an audio interface with 2 (or more) XLR ports and as many dynamic microphones as you need. With that setup, recording multiple people will be a breeze. 

Choose the podcast microphone that’s right for you

No microphone is a magic bullet, but this guide will help you determine which works best for your podcast. Now, go forth and record some great content!


New Gear: Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

I received my new Zoom H2 Handy Recorder in the mail today. I can’t wait to try it out. I will definitely be bringing it on my trip to San Francisco this weekend (October 6-8), and look forward to using it to make and demos, field recordings and podcasts in the future.

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Hepnova Biography Podcast


A Portrait of the Artists as Hot Young Freaks, a biography of Hepnova (the band formerly known as The Ronald Raygun), by Jon Rodis (pictured sitting above).

Stay tuned for the new Hepnova album late 2007/early 2008!

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The Future of Music


From Tekserve’s email invite:

Special Event: The Future of Music, A Panel Discussion on Where the Music Industry is Headed

The panel will explore a host of music topics: What have we gained, what have we lost? What are we going to hear in the next ten years? What are we going to feel? How will music be sold? How will it be produced? How will it be performed? Prior to the panel discussion, you will hear from Steve Gordon, author of THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS: How to Succeed with the New Technologies, A Guide for Artists and Entrepreneurs. In addition, you’ll have the chance to pose your own question to the panelists at the end of the discussion.

Moderator of the Discussion: Harry Allen is a famed hip-hop activist and journalist for Vibe, The Source, The Village Voice, and others. As an expert covering hip-hop culture, Harry has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on National Public Radio, MTV, VH-1, CNN, the BBC, and other information channels.

Here is a list of our panelists:

Bob Power, Award-winning, multi-platinum record producer, mixer, engineer, musician. Credits Include: A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Erykah Badu.

Hank Shocklee, Long Island based hip-hop producer. Credits include: Public Enemy, EPMD, Ice Cube.

Nick Sansano, New York-based engineer/producer. Credits include: Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Galactic, Sonic Youth.

Steve Gordon, New York based entertainment attorney, author and lecturer

Below: Mixer Cake


My Notes:

Steve Gordon’s Presentation on the Future of the Music Business

  • The traditional music biz is in crisis due to digital downloads, Napster and Kazaa, but there are many new opportunities
  • Gross music recording sales are in decline – peaked at $15 billion in 1999, now down to $10 billion in 2006
  • With modern technology, it is now possible to produce a commercial quality album for less than $10,000 and set up a promotional website for only a few hundred dollars.
  • Case study : Assuming that an artist records an album for $15,000. If she sells only 3000 units online through self-distribution, she can start to turn a profit. At a major label, she would have to sell over $15,000 units just to recoup costs, before starting to receive a paltry %3 on each unit sold.
  • iTunes was a step in the right direction. Great deal for Apple – over 90 million iPods sold, but for record labels, digital sales have not compensated for losses in CD sales.
  • Why DRM? Labels for Apple to use it, but Apple uses DRM too. iTunes purchases only play on your computer or on an iPod.
  • New AAC Format (Apple and EMI partnership). Offers higher quality sound at a greater cost. But once again, it only plays on an iPod.

Panelists’ General Observations

  • There has a transfer of power from labels to independent musicians and producers, but not a transfer of money.
  • The business is in crisis, but MUSIC is still good
  • Consumers have a choice now. Need for new curators, gatekeepers and aggregators of content to help music listeners make more informed choices.
  • Just because we have new digital tools doesn’t mean we should use all of them at once. Talent and acquired skills are still needed. One needs to have a firm grasp of musical history and how to arrange. Good, cheap technology does not necessarily translate directly into a great record. But Rock and Roll was born out of doing things wrong.
  • In the new digital age we are still children. We are now free, but how do we take advantage of our new found freedom? Most people don’t know what is means to be free – so most people go back to the plantation.
  • PROMOTION IS KEY! People need to not only promote their own stuff, but cross promote with other artists and producers as well.
  • Currency is viewership and visibility, NOT SALES! Audio and visual elements are even more interconnected than ever.
  • Big expensive studios may still sound a bit better than a home-studio recording, but it doesn’t sound 1 million dollars better.
  • Labels will stay around in one form or another – just as radio did not replace television. Labels still have means to promote and place an artist. Labels still command trust with distributors and media networks. The oldest form of trust is $. Labels are like banks.
  • There is now a lower ramp of entry into the biz. But artists have an even greater responsibility to create their own buzz now.
  • There will be no more superstar artists – only celebrities and good artists.
  • Profits will be more evenly distributed. More variety in the ecosystem, with everyone getting a fairer piece of the pie.
  • Keys to success – REFINEMENT, SKILLS, and LEARNING.
  • MySpace is great, but don’t forget that face-to-face meetings and networking is still important.

Watch the The Future of Music videos on YouTube.