Editor's Note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for CNN.com. She is a Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog, Contentious.com, explores how people communicate in the online age.
(CNN) -- Whether you're a citizen journalist, podcaster or simply interested in sharing some sound with friends, your cell phone can become your mobile radio studio.
You can use it to record an in-person audio interview, sound from a live meeting or event or ambient audio from an interesting-sounding location.
MobileActive has published an excellent guide to making mobile audio in the field. A few key tips from that guide:
Microphone positioning. "Place the mobile phone so it faces your subject (or yourself if you are recording self-spoken audio). Remember that the microphone is usually at the bottom of the phone."
Minimize background noise. "Beware of spaces with too much background noise -- fans, air conditioning, refrigerators, traffic or computers. If possible, turn off or deactivate these noise sources. Practice with test clips before you produce the audio. Journalist Victoria Foley suggests that you record from inside a car, which provides great audio insulation and a makeshift sound booth."
Check signal strength. "If you are streaming live audio or uploading content right after recording, make sure to find a space with good signal strength. Poor signal strength can result in poor audio quality."
Use an external microphone. "External microphones can drastically improve the quality of audio. However, mobile phones' audio jacks are designed for headset-based microphones. If you are regularly planning on recording audio on a phone, consider buying a microphone designed for mobile phones."
Beyond MobileActive's advice, here are a few more tips.
Many cell phones -- not just smartphones -- have a built-in audio recorder mode that can capture one to five minutes of audio. Use this like a tape recorder, and transfer saved audio files to your computer. Then you can convert those files to MP3 format and publish them online via services like Soundcloud, Houndbite or Libsyn.
If your phone does not have an audio recorder, you can set up an account at Cinchcast and use their dial-in access number to record sound. (Standard per-minute phone call charges apply.)
Audioboo provides free iPhone and Android apps for recording audio and sharing it via social media such as Facebook, as well as iTunes.
Recording a phone call is another option. You can use a service like BlogTalk Radio, Talkshoe or RecordiaPro to record a phone call between two or more people and automatically stream or save that audio online. Just make sure you know the call recording laws in your state, as well as those in the state of whomever you're recording.