Transcripts for a Self-hosted Podcast

The latest Apple iOS update included an update to the Apple Podcasts app that added support for transcripts. They claim that they will auto-generate transcripts, but they allow you to provide your own. I have always provided a transcript for my episodes because I believe in accessibility. It’s also good for SEO, and my process starts from a script, so editing it to the transcript has never been a problem.

But, those transcripts are just text that I post on a web page. For the Podcast app, it’s much better to have a .srt file, which is a text file with the transcript and time codes. It looks like this:

00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:15,060
I'm Lou Franco, and this is Episode 40 of Write While True.

00:00:15,060 --> 00:00:18,960
Write While True is an infinite loop, and that's because I think of writing as an

00:00:18,960 --> 00:00:19,960
infinite game.

00:00:19,960 --> 00:00:24,520
A game I play for fun and to get better at it, like a game of catch.

This is a little harder to make manually, so I use whisper from OpenAI. Whisper can create the .srt file directly, and since the format is still text, I can make any corrections I need to. Whisper doesn’t make many mistakes, though, which is surprising because I have a New York accent that sometimes confounds AI.

From there, I just post the .srt file in S3 in the same bucket as my mp3. The Blubrry PowerPress plugin, which generates my podcast feed, lets me provide a URL to a transcript file.

Finally, to get Apple to use it, you need to login to your Podcast Connect account and go the the “Availability” section of your podcast and turn on the option that allows you to provide your own transcripts.