A webcast is an audio or video file that is distributed over the Internet to listeners or viewers. The relatively low production and distribution costs compared to traditional media means webcast production can be performed by amateur broadcasters, as well as professional organizations. Webcast production depends on several factors, including the recording set-up, whether the webcast is audio or video, and the intended audience of the broadcast. Generally speaking, webcasts are recorded in a studio before being edited and uploaded to a really simple syndication (RSS) feed. The uniform resource locator (URL) of the RSS feed is then usually published to a distribution platform.
Many amateur webcasts consist of audio recordings of enthusiasts for various topics, including sports, books or automobiles. These shows are typically recorded in a quiet room in the home with off-the-shelf equipment. Amateur webcasts are inexpensive to produce and generally only require microphones, a computer and some software to record and edit the audio file. The host of the show sometimes doubles as the producer and must check the audio levels for each microphone and verify that the equipment in working during recording.
Professional webcasters prefer to work in a sound-controlled environment such as a studio or a room that has sound-proofing installed, and some larger webcast networks have constructed large sets similar to those used by a television studio. Professional webcasts can be audio or video and are often live-streamed during recording. These webcasts usually have a dedicated producer to operate the recording equipment, although he also may appear as a contributor. The equipment used for professional webcast production typically involves more expensive video cameras, microphones and production hardware. Even though professional-grade hardware can be expensive, webcast production costs still dwarf those of traditional over-the-air networks and have allowed many smaller organizations to broadcast high-quality shows.
In addition to operating the recording equipment, the webcast's producer is often responsible for scheduling guests and planning discussion topics, as well as editing the broadcast to remove long pauses and profanity or to clean up bad audio. The producer must make sure the webcast is uploaded to the RSS feed and that it is being published to the relevant distribution platforms. The producer also is responsible for maintaining any voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) connections that are being used to communicate with hosts or guests during the webcast. A good webcast producer should keep up with new recording technologies and is always delivering the best audio and visual presentation to the end user.