Interviews are the cornerstone of a journalist’s arsenal and with many more interviews happening over the phone, journalists need some way to record them. Whether its a landline, mobile phone, or internet telephone service, here are a few ways to record your phone calls.
One of the easiest ways to record a phone conversation with a traditional landline phone is to purchase a gadget that connects the phone to a digital audio recorder. Products like the Bell-Sonecor TR-70 Tele-Recorder Adapter ($12.70, Amazon) can be plugged directly into the handset jack of the telephone, while the other end is connected to the input jack of most standard audio recorders.
You can also record your mobile and landline telephone calls using services like Free Conference, which allow many people to call into a single conference line. The basic service is free, but for about $9/month or $6.50 per call, you can record the entire conversation and an audio file is delivered to the email address you use to sign up for the service.
Many journalists use Skype, the downloadable software that allows anyone to make phone calls over the internet. Skype users can download third-party software like Hot Recorder (Windows), Audio Hijack Pro (Mac) and Call Recorder (Mac), each of which records Skype calls and creates an editable audio file. The aforementioned programs range from about $15 to $30.
Alternatively, if you are using a computer and a headset to make a phone call and also have a digital audio recorder, you can purchase a far less expensive headphone splitter like the Belkin F8V234-WHT shown at right ($4.95, Amazon). Connect the audio jack of the headphone splitter to the headphone jack of your computer and connect the male end of your headset to one of the female ends of the headphone splitter. Then connect your audio recorder to the other female end using an audio cable with two male ends. This enables you to listen to the call and record it at the same time.
You can also record phone calls using Google Voice, a phone management service that allows users to make calls over the internet or on a traditional phone. You can record any phone call you initiate on the service by pressing “4” during the call. When the call is completed, an audio file of the conversation is delivered to your Google Voice inbox. Google Voice has many other cool features and is available by invite only.
If you are in the U.S., federal law stipulates that at least one person must give their consent for the phone call to be recorded, which means you can legally record the phone call without notifying the other person. However, many states have their own laws that govern recorded telephone conversations. Twelve states have laws that dictate that everyone on the phone call must give their consent for the call to be recorded.
In the map below, the states highlighted in red only require one party to give their consent for the call to be recorded. Those highlighted in purple require the consent of everyone on the call. You can find more detailed information for each state here.
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