You don't need to be rich to be a podcaster. But if you are, you sure can spend a lot of money quick. I, of course, am not rich. If you are also unsure if this will be a hobby or if you will be any good at it, you certainly don't want to spend a ton of money up front. Well the good news is that for about 50 bucks you can be podcasting in no time!
If you are podcasting at home you only need two things, a computer and a microphone. The computer doesn't need to be top of the line. A one or two year old computer will do just fine. On the computer you will need software installed of course. There are really only one piece of software you need to do this. The software is called Audacity and it is free!
Audacity is not too hard to get going. You can basically hit the red record button and go at it. There are some nice features though. You can cut out long pauses. Shorten the podcast. Fade in and out. Add music or soundbits. It really is amazing that this software is free. Of course there is better software but hey I'm teaching you to do this cheaply.
If you plan on publishing your podcast you can get into a little more money. Podhoster or Podbean are both services that will "host" your podcast which basically means storing it so other people can access it. These services are about 5 bucks a month. You will need to run your feed through Feedburner. It is free but very essential to keeping a static location for your feed. If you change your hosting service later or use a webhosting service then you will be glad that you used Feedburner.
If you want to get "seen" then you will need to put your podcast on Itunes. This is not a difficult task either. You simply go to the podcast page, click on "submit my podcast". Then follow the instructions. You will need your feed (hopefully a Feedburner one!). Itunes is also free.
For the microphone you can use a cheap stand type (do they even make those anymore?). I use a headset type that has headphones and a mic built in. The mic must have a wind protector over the end. Unless you have perfect pronunciation you will need this.
If you podcast on the road or don't like to be tied to a desk you will need a digital voice recorder. You can pick an inexpensive one at Walmart. I picked up the least pricey RCA model and it has worked like gangbusters. I use the pause button like a fiend though.
So in summary if you plan on podcasting at home and assuming you already have a computer you will spend about 15 bucks on a mic and that's it if you plan on just doing this for fun. Throw in another 5 bucks to get a hosting service started and you've spent 20 bucks to get going. If you need a recorder you've spent another 30 bucks or so. There you go, for 50 bucks you can be a podcaster!