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On a recent episode of the always excellent Marketing Companion with Tom Webster and Mark Schaefer, they both ruminated about building interactivity into podcasts. The few remaining veteran podcasters from the old days have a few tricks up our sleeves that can help.

Slackershot: recording the Financial Aid Podcast

If you’re hankering for that “almost live” feeling, there is no better way to get recordings from your studio audience via Google Voice. Google Voice will send you transcripts AND audio files that people leave as voicemails from a standard phone. Audience members need no special equipment and no special skills other than leaving a coherent voicemail. Just set up a free Google Voice mailbox, publicize the number on your show’s web page and in-show, and wait for the audience feedback to trickle in.

The second way to get that “almost live” feeling that’s not quite as good is with text to speech software. Say you’ve got comments from a blog post about the show that you think would make a great audio comment, but you don’t want to go the route of reading them aloud, NPR style. With a system audio recorder (Audio Hijack for the Mac, not sure what for Windows machines) and the iSpeech extension for Chrome, you can highlight a comment on the blog, record the audio, and then insert it into your show. Here, for example, is what the extension can generate out of Tom Webster’s recent blog post on the episode:

Once you’ve got the comments in audio format, simply plop them in the show. As a bonus, you can (with full disclosure, of course) edit and trim the comments first before recording them, allowing for the ideas to shine through while still remaining compact and listenable (a problem sometimes with rambling voicemails).

Either way, both of these “tricks of the trade” are useful for bringing more audience into your audio podcast or other audio content.

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