Working On The First Popehat Podcast

So: We've decided to do a podcast. At least Patrick and I will contribute; other Popehat authors may as well. It will be infrequent — certainly no more than once per month.

There will be a few common themes familiar to Popehat readers: free speech issues, criminal justice issues, and lawsplainers, as well as the intersection of law and culture. We're open to suggestions and requests.

The regular features are still in development, but will likely include the following:

  • On The Case:  a look at the legal, social, and historical context of a well-known Supreme Court case, usually in the free speech realm.  In the first episode:  fighting words, and why Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire isn't really about them.
  • Lawsplaining:  you ask us to explain something about free speech law or criminal justice, and we bicker over it.
  • Who Are You And Why Are You Here?  Interviews with people we hope you'll find interesting.
  • . . . . and more about games, books, movies, and culture.

I've found the Lawyerist's guide to launching a podcast to be helpful, but I'd appreciate other suggestions for podcasting resources, especially in the area of finding open-source music & audio and integrating it. Suggestions, requests, and questions for Lawsplaining will also be welcome.

My goal is to launch early in January.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. somebodys_kid says

    I've been hoping for a Popehat podcast for the better part of this year. Glad it's finally happening.

  2. says

    My greatest frustration with podcasts is that the sound levels are utterly unattended to. While listening in my car, the sound level goes from very quiet to very loud very quickly.
    Nevertheless, I'll certainly listen to yours, even if the sound sucks.

  3. says

    There are a few good resources for Royalty Free Music. I would say the two I like to use most are which is music from, you guessed it, Moby. My favorite is Kevin MacLeod at great variety for whatever mood you need. There are both free & pay options. The pay options will give you multiple track version you may want to use in another capacity. For example, perhaps the piano track or drum track only.

    Good luck & welcome to the podcast club!

    Jeannie – Producer Tyrion's Landing

  4. Nathan Bousfield says

    I look forward to listening! Also Frank, if you have an iPhone, check out the Overcast app and its voice boost feature, that might solve your problem.

  5. Jackson says

    All good podcasts have intro music.

    You should lead off the podcast with the My Little Ponies Theme Song.

  6. Alex says

    I'll second incompetech as a great source of free music.

    For audio leveling, try auphonic. It automatically balances everything to the same volume and can help reduce noise.

    And if you don't want to pay for skype recording software, I've been using iFree recorder which works well enough.

  7. Richard says

    I understand that it's a lot of trouble, but I work in a place where it's much easier to access text as opposed to audio or video, so transcripts would be very much appreciated.

  8. I Was Anonymous says

    I, for one, welcome our new podcast wielding overlords.

    Dare we hope for a cast on the Pony Menace?

  9. pjcamp says

    You haven't touched on the implosion of Prenda Law in some time. Lots of entertaining things have been happening to them.

  10. pjcamp says

    @Ken White

    Here's a clever way to use Google Chrome to do your transcription for you:

    There's also a free web service called Voicebase.

    In both cases, if you mumble or record in a train station the quality of the transcription will degrade.

  11. TimH says

    I second the transcription request, mostly because I can read that so much faster than listening to the audio.

    Also, interviews are a natural for poddies.

  12. Andrew says

    Bring on esteemed legal scholars and pundits, and then spend the entire time asking about the minutiae of 1990s computer games.

    "Thanks for joining us, Judge Posner. Let's get right into it — do you prefer the original DOS version of TIE Fighter or the later Windows version?"

    Have a game-show segment in which Patrick reads the description of a monster from Fiend Folio, and then Ken has to name the monster.

    "This monster appears to be a column incorporating the form of a woman holding a sword…"

  13. jdh says

    Oddly enough, I have manage to make it up until now without ever downloading and listening to one of those newfangled "podcast" things.

    I may have to rethink that strategy.

  14. Elizabeth Van Horn says

    Hi Ken! Great to hear about your upcoming podcasts. I'll second Audacity as a free audio recorder-editor. I've used it for several years and it's easy. (

    A mistake that some pod-casters make is an overly long music intro. For me, it detracts from the podcast, and wastes time. (Personally, I wouldn't use a music intro, but it does seem to be the default.)

    I recommend lots of practice! Record your own voice and and banter if you can. Do this in advance, so you'll know how you sound. (we hear ourselves differently than others do, so this is helpful) Also, try to keep the podcasts down to a reasonable time-frame. Even the most interesting topic, and melodious voices, will lose listeners if the podcast is too long.

    Good luck! I look forward to hearing your first podcast! *smiles*

    (Several off-the-cuff recordings using Audacity, an old PC, and a headset held together with duck-tape: ; )

  15. Todd says

    Of course Via Angus will be a part of the podcast, who else would do the moovie reviews? In fact you could probably assign the whole culture desk to him and report on the latest exhibits at the mooseum as well.

  16. ShelbyC says

    One per month? What kind of lazy-ass horseshit is that? There should be at least one per week. Kids these days…

  17. Trevor says

    My greatest frustration with podcasts is that the sound levels are utterly unattended to. While listening in my car, the sound level goes from very quiet to very loud very quickly.
    Nevertheless, I'll certainly listen to yours, even if the sound sucks.

    The fix for the problem of uneven sound levels is a compressor. There are lots of software compressor plugins, of course, (some of which even sound good) but for bullet-proof reliability I'd recommend a hardware compressor.

    I'm an audio engineer, and would be happy to give Popehat audio help and advice as needed. Ken and Patrick, just shoot me an email if you want to take me up on my offer.


  18. Aaron says

    My biggest recommendation would be to publish them via your normal RSS feed, since that's how I generally get notified of new posts. Other platforms, yes, please publish to them, but also to here.

  19. John says

    My big request would be to keep each podcast to 79.5 minutes or less. The only way/time listening to most 'casts works for me is to download and burn to a CD for use in the car. One CD worth of talking is great.

  20. Zach says

    I would say that this post would be hugely helpful to anyone considering doing a podcast. Casey Liss: How I Make Podcasts

    To quote the post:

    Like I said above, nothing here is really magical. The magic for both shows is giving a crap.

    Really looking forward to your podcast.

  21. J. Krowsky says

    Suggested Podcast Subject: "Free speech around the world"

    How different "western democratic" countries protect speech and to what degree.

    I've read about British and Canadian comparisons to US free speech laws here, and it would be interesting to do a comparison.

    Oh, and ponies, gotta talk about the ponies…

    Just sayin'

  22. Steve S says


    You are likely to get very poor results from any Audio to Text software. These technologies are getting better by the second but still have a long way to go, in my opinion, before they are ready for primetime. Even if they could consistently and accurately transcribe the audio, they will not be able to distinguish between the source of the audio (e.g. you vs. Patrick). I would recommend a transcription service. Some services specialize in podcasts. Most of these services charge per minute of recorded audio. So it might be worth having your audio editor edit out pauses, garbled content etc. before sending to the transcriptionist.

    I know someone that has done a lot of work for me that would be fantastic.

    Looking forward to the podcast,


  23. Leo Marvin says

    As a longtime regular reader, if infrequent commenter, my favorite posts are ones that involve your kids. They're very cute and funny. If you can turn some of that into a podcast I'll be an avid listener, especially if you bring them into the conversation. (I'm sure I'll listen regardless, but if you exclude the kids I'll do so grudgingly.)

  24. says

    Happy to provide specific, practical documentation on how it's done from recording to editing to publishing. Shoot me an email.

  25. says

    (1) Terrific idea!

    (2) Minor point: not sure if y'all have already bought the equipment, but we had a horrific time with the Blue Snowball — not sure if they've worked out the bugs, but the sound was terrible on 3 of them we went through (you had to practically be kissing the ball for it to pick up any sound). Try before you buy if possible, and at the very least keep the receipt :)