How Do You Edit a Podcast?

todayJune 7, 2021 20

share close

“We should start a podcast” is the modern version of “we should start a band.” The barrier to entry has dropped so much as to be almost nonexistent. Anyone with a microphone and a computer can put together a quality show. However, if you’ve never edited audio before, there are a few things you should know before diving headfirst into the world of pod editing.

Podcasts are essentially just audio files that we upload to a server and push to subscribers. While editing audio is certainly simpler than editing video, it still takes some effort to produce a quality episode that your listeners will enjoy. The editing process starts before you even record. Here’s how to get your episode done in seven steps.

How to Edit a Podcast in 7 Easy Steps

1. Plan Out Your Episode

Editing becomes a thousand times easier when you have a plan going into the episode. Of course, you can’t script every single line of your show because part of the fun of podcasts is their organic nature. You don’t quite know exactly what will be said or how your co-hosts will react, if you have them. Even if you don’t script your work, you can still have an outline.

For instance, you might have recurring segments in your show that you don’t want to forget. Write these down and jot down ideas for what you’d like to talk about. If you’re going to do an interview, write down some of your questions before you go in. Even if you’re just reviewing a product, having some notes ensures you don’t deviate too much and end up rambling off topic.

Intros and Outros

If this is your first episode, you should think about the future. Would you like to have a consistent introduction and outro for all of your episodes? You might want to record that first. From there, you can record a quick line or two that introduces the specific topic or guest for each episode. Having these bookends gives your show some structure and presents your show to your audience in a professional manner.

Once you have these out of the way, you’ll just drop them into each episode in the future. It’s a worthwhile investment.


Bumpers are the pre-recorded segments that we use between other segments. For example, if you play a trivia game on your show, you could have a short pre-produced intro for that segment. If you have sponsors and want to cut to a commercial, you could use a bumper there to let the audience know it’s time for a commercial break.

2. Record the Episode

With your pre-recorded, reusable content out of the way, it’s time to actually record your episode. If you’re going for more of a scripted feel and want to stick to your outline rigorously, the best approach is to simply keep recording even when you botch a take. It’s a lot easier to edit one file than it is to sift through thirty small files to find the right takes.

To minimize your work in the editing process, avoid interruptions and outside noises. If you’re recording at home and other people are around, let them know to keep it quiet for a while. Maybe take the kids or the dog outside. Mute all phones or speakers in the house. There’s nothing worse than a horribly timed background noise to ruin what was otherwise an awesome run.

3. First Pass: Trim the Fat

With your episode recorded, you’ll need to open up your editor. Audacity is a free program that many people use to edit their episodes. Others may want to use a more premium program like Adobe Audition. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll want to open up the raw WAV file in your editor to start working on it.

Editing takes multiple passes. You don’t just edit everything in one go and call it a day. The first pass should be to trim the fat. Cut out any lengthy pauses or mistakes that you don’t want to keep in the final edit. Get the audio content exactly where you want it with this pass. You’re laying the foundation for the next run. You may also want to reorder some parts at this phase.

4. Second Pass: Sound Effects or Background Music

With your audio trimmed and organized, you can now think about other layers. Listen to some of your favorite podcasts. Do they have any light background music? Do they throw in funny sound bites or sound effects? You can add those in your second pass.

In your editor, add these elements on a separate track. Each track can have unique effects or filters applied, so you should create a track for each purpose. The main track contains your source audio, while track 2 could be for sound effects, and track 3 for background music.

5. Third Pass: Add Other Segments

With the second pass, you’ve basically finished editing the meat and potatoes of your episode. Your actual episode content is done. Now you need to stitch it together with any of your pre-recorded content. Add in your intro or bumpers or sponsored segments as needed.

To transition more smoothly into these parts, you could segue into them during your episode recording. Another option is to simply fade out the volume on the main track and fade into the pre-recorded segment at the same time. This crossfade technique creates a natural transition into a new segment. You can also do this more abruptly if it matches your style.

6. Final Pass: Apply Filters and Effects

You’re almost finished, but you still need to sprinkle a little bit of production magic on top of your work. You should always take a moment to add some retouching to your audio before exporting. For example, if your room produces a bit of reverberation, consider using a de-reverb effect to reduce that slightly. You can apply this to a single track and all of the audio on that track will be affected.

Likewise, if you’re experiencing static noise on your microphones, you can often remove that by selecting an otherwise silent portion of your audio to identify what the static sounds like. From there, you run an automated program that removes that static. These adjustments do reduce audio volume, so you should then double back and adjust your levels to compensate.

7. Export and Upload

You should export your final audio file as a WAV and keep this file safe. This is your master copy and it’s the one you should back up and protect. If you ever need to go back and edit your episode, you should return to this file. But since WAVs are massive, you’ll probably want a lighter file to upload.

You can easily export your file as an MP3 from your editor and it should be significantly smaller. You can upload this version to your server and your users can download it much more easily than if they had to pull down a giant WAV.

And that’s everything you need to know to edit a basic podcast. Of course, how you edit your work will depend heavily on the type of content you’re creating. It takes time to find your style and get comfortable with editing. Don’t expect your first few episodes to be masterpieces. If you need a place to host your show, consider uploading to the Helium Radio Network.

Written by: #HeliumRadio

Rate it