I learned a lot in this class. But, I did not learn what I thought I would. I thought I would learn all about the technical aspects of podcasting and indeed, I ultimately did. However, I learned that on my own through much painful trial and error. What I did learn, and this was unexpected, was how important podcasting is in the toolbox of social media. And, I learned that it is hard to podcast on a regular basis. By doing it on my own I have developed a much deeper respect for the medium and what it takes to produce a regularly occurring podcast.

The books we read were good and motivating. I particularly enjoyed the Business Podcasting Book. The chapters on how to inspire and introduce podcasting to large organizations seem far flung from my perspective. I work in a large organization and I know what it takes to get anything done. It is inevitable I think that social media will become a daily consideration, if it is not already, and I think podcasting will be included.

I also really enjoyed the guest speakers. This was the best part of the class to me. Taking advantage of Kathy Gill’s contacts really proved to be the most enlightening part of the class for me. Hearing from people who have made podcasting a part of their work life, or haven’t, put the theoretical into practicum and that always drives home certain realities to anything studied from arms length.

The group podcast was a great experience and I have enormous appreciation for my team and the effort put in by each member. I am proud of the podcast we produced and feel the Seattle Podcasting Club responded favorably to our efforts.

Finally, my own podcast was so fun to do, even though it was hard, that I will continue to do it on a regular basis. That probably says more than anything about the failure or success of a new class. I intend to keep doing it after the class is over. I recently showed my mother how to find podcasts and how RSS feeds work. I have become an evangelist and this must be considered another mark of success for the class and the digital media program at the UW.

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The Washington Wine Show-‘One bottle at a Time” fills a particular void in the growing online space for wine and social media. That void is for Washington wine. There are more than 25 wine podcasts out there, but there is no other podcast that specifically covers Washington wine. And, there is no other wine podcast that focuses on a single bottle of wine per show, giving my audience deep knowledge about wine, and whereby they can become instant experts. Over a period of six months to a year, the audience will have acquired enough knowledge about Washington wine to bravely go into any store, any restaurant, and order wine with virtually no intimidation. The audience for wine in social media is large and getting larger each day as the demand in the U.S. for wine is now out pacing beer and spirits. Yet, people are still lost when it comes to knowing which wines they should spend their money on. The show brings real social value.

My show would easily be categorized under the Food and Wine section on iTunes or any other podlist.

This first episode feature Liberty Bay Cellars 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. I interview a professional sommelier, Larry Davidson, and a wine shop owner, Jeff Tweiten, who sells this wine. The music for the show was produced by me using Garage Band and Jam Pack, so it is royalty free.

06.10.08 Episode 1 – 2003 Liberty Bay Cabernet Sauvignon
Total Length: 34:15
Menu
0:00 Intro
1:20 Why Washington wine
4:42 Interview with Larry Davidson
18:45 Interview with Jeff Tweiten
33:15 Outro

You can link to the iTunes (m4a) ready version of the PODCAST HERE
You can link to an MP3 version of the PODCAST HERE.

The number of posts I made (or didn’t) this quarter was pathetic. Rather than float some excuses as to why, suffice it to say it was a combination of this being my final class before I graduate—and even more debilitating was my schedule at work. If a cool breeze passes by in the next week or so, I will blow away because I feel like spent ash. Time was just not going to be had. Time and podcasting are necessary if they are to be a happy couple.

This got me thinking though, if podcasting’s major accomplishment is time-shifting why is it so unpopular? Well..it IS unpopular and there are statistics to prove it. I came into the class pretty fired up. I had discovered podcasting and the prospect of doing my own show was exciting. When Eric Weaver visited the class and spoke highly of podcasting’s bright future, it added more fuel to my flames. Then James Preston came in and doused those flames with a cold bucket of reality. Nobody listens to podcasts. Nobody as in the same amount of people who listen to satellite radio. Why not?

Here is what I found out. Edison Media and Arbitron released a report in 2007. The good news is there has been a significant jump in the amount of people who have heard of podcasting. The bad news is nobody cares and only an insignificant amount of people started listening to podcasts over the previous year. See the charts below.

To quote the Edison (not Edelman!) blogpost about this report, ” If you think podcasting isn’t “broken,” think on these graphs again. Millions of Americans learned about podcasting this year, and the vast majority responded…”meh.”

This leads me back to my own problems this quarter. Podcasting takes time. It takes time to create and it takes time to listen to, time-shifted or not. People are so starved for time that it will be very difficult for this medium to find penetration in the long run. New media, in general, is a young person’s phenomenon. They haven’t been indoctrinated into the rituals of established media as have older people. They get it. Most everyone else doesn’t. But, most of all younger people have the time that older people don’t.

Growing up with new media will change the future, this we can all count on. Can’t we? “Consumer-controlled content is clearly the future for both audio and video” says the blogger from Edison, yet he also agrees that until podcasting can make itself easy to use it will hover at these depressing numbers.

Ironically (wink), the problem, according to Edison Media, is time: “one popular debate amongst podcasters is the appropriate length of a podcast…Let’s work to develop 30 minute podcasts that give me a table of contents and let me listen to only the three minutes I care about, and you’ll have a better chance of getting your podcast onto my player. Instead of worrying about how long to make uninterrupted chunks of audio, podcasters should work on creating the Netvibes or Pageflakes of audio–simple search and aggregation of ONLY the content I want.”

So there you have it, the best podcasts are the ones that take no time to receive and are infinitely interesting to listen to in less than three minutes. No wonder nobody is listening.

The podcast I have been listening most to is OnThePage: Screenwriting with Pilar Allesandra. The web site features a cool interface that was designed in Flash. It’s easy to find everything you want to know about script consulting or classes offered by On The Page. However, there is a massive, gaping hole where the blog should be and it will take some hunting to find the link to the podcast. I don’t really understand that. Is she downplaying the podcast and finds no need for a blog? Or is it something she didn’t expect to find such a large following and hasn’t gotten around to updating her web page on? Either way, this is a big mistake. I have emailed with her in the past this quarter so I will contact her and suggest she make some adjustments.

Truth be told, the only blog I follow with regularity is Stuff White People Like. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. I know there a lot of people who don’t, but the don’t like Family Guy or South Park either, or Will Ferrel, and well, I do. So what? The design is really just a basic Word Press design but they do a spectacular job with the photos so that the whole thing looks like a Pottery Barn catalog or something from J. Crew. They are publishing a book next month and maybe they will have an entire new design since they are getting so popular.

Our readings this week mention that it’s okay to have lots of interests. Boy, I sure do. One of the biggest, along with wine, photography, screenwriting, Japanese maples, and comedy, is history. I found this podcast and find it to be great. I wish it came out more but Dan Carlin puts a lot into it, so I understand the once a month frequency.

Chapter 4 of the Business Podcasting Book goes into some detail about how to form a plan of attack when trying to get a large organization behind the idea of podcasting. As I was reading along I was thinking about the recommendations they were making—finding an internal champion, overcoming resistance to new media, gradual change, encouraging collaboration across departments, among others— and I couldn’t help snickering. I work for a huge company of well over 100,000 employees. Trying to get anything done, especially new things, in my company is next to impossible. It’s like trying to push a cruise ship across the Pacific Ocean with a fly. In order to podcast at my company we would indeed need an internal champion. However, this internal champion would have to be one of the highest ranking members of the company and he or she would have to gain the acquiescence of most of the senior management. Have you seen senior level executives in action? They are some of the most terrified people on earth, forever worried about how each decision they make will make them look to other executives. As for new media? These people barely know how to operate their email. (I know of two senior people who have their administrative assistants print out all their email for them to read on paper. One told me bald faced that never heard of a .zip file). I wish I was just poking fun here, but sadly the truth is new media will have to become old media before it is adopted by large organizations.

Look at the “green” wave spilling over corporate America in the past few months. It’s laughable how they have appropriated this 25 year-old idea into their marketing and advertising as something new. Their “new” internal commitment to green business practices seem so antiquated that it’s very hard to take them seriously. Better late than never for sure, but don’t pitch it as if you are saving the planet when everyone knows damn well that corporate America is justifiably to blame for a big portion of our current environmental issues.

My company ought to be ready to podcast on a regular basis both internally and externally in about 2020, because it will take them that long to politically work it all out and figure out how to get 150 people to approve the content before the law staff gets it’s hands on it and strips out any content that may have any value for fear of being sued. When they do finally publish the podcast the material will be so stale that the moment the first download ends it will be only good for bread crumbs or croûtons.

While I applaud the BPB authors and their efforts at motivating companies to get caught up to the 21st-century, I know from experience that only small to medium size companies or executives at very large companies that are savvy and very powerful will be doing any valuable podcasting. Even Greg Cangialosi, the author, writes candidly about his experience with Verizon in a similar vein. I could feel his frustration through his carefully worded prose describing the experience. Fortunately for him, he has also had good experiences with larger firms. I gather they had the powerful executives mentioned above pushing it through.

As an example of who we might follow in our team podcasts on the Mariner’s, I found Skinny on Sports. Two brothers Matt and Andy Skinn do a fast 10 minutes on sports offering opinions and a little humor. Very Canadian. 🙂 Eh?

This week’s readings were all about format. What kind of format should my podcast be about and what kind of podcast would my team produce?

For my own personal podcast, I am following the advice given in the Business Podcasting Book and focusing on a very specific niche. I’ve also listened to all of my “competitors” out there and have made a determination about where I can differentiate myself. Of course, they aren’t really competitors at all, more like mentors and what I aspire to be like. Yes, I am purposely not saying what the show will be.

The Tricks of the Podcasting Masters reading really gave me a breakdown on the more popular types of genres. I’ve listened to the sports examples so that my team will have the knowledge it needs to make a good show without copying others too closely. It’s amazing just how much podcasting is out there.

I find it interesting that since I’ve started this class I have asked lots of people if they listen to podcasts and almost uniformly they say no. Yet all of the statistics show that podcasting is gaining in popularity. Hmmmm? Perhaps it’s the people I know?

A podcast I recently discovered and have been listening to is On the Page with host Pilar Allesandra. Pilar is a script consultant and respected teacher of screenwriting. The 30-minute podcast is all about screenwriting and Pilar always has guests on each week. When I discovered the podcast, the show was up to episode 34 but—again, this is the beautiful part of podcasting—I chose to start listening at show number 1 and just catch up. I am traveling this week and so I have listened quite a bit while on the road. I am up to show 9.

Pilar does the show right. What I mean by that is that everything I am learning in this class and from our two books about how to produce and conduct a podcast successfully, she is doing well. Each week she has a guest on the show who is a writer or somebody connected to the craft of screenwriting and she both interviews them as well as has them read and answer questions posted by people on her web site. She has a producer, Matt Belknap, who also participates on the show and lends credibility because he is a professional script reader for Imagine Entertainment.

She conducts the show in a loose style with lots of joking around while at the same time she is prepared and knows what she wants to get out of her guests. She allows the personalities of everyone, including herself, to shine through and really creates the feeling that you are in the room with everyone just watching them have a conversation over a beer. She often references her web site, her classes, and then provides a ten minute writing exercise near the end of each show so there is some structure and some expectation for the listener. She is very consistent which I really admire and appreciate.

This is a great example of how to do an interview show while covering a specific topic.

Arrrrrggghh. I’m posting this late. My life just keeps getting in the way of the life I want to be living. So I sit here in a hotel room in Durham, NC trying to catch up. Feeling sorry for me yet?

The readings this week, as always, shed light for me on podcasting and I am beginning to see this whole endeavor in less intimidating ways. The Business Podcasting Book’s (BPB) chapter by Ryan Irelan on producing podcasts was very helpful. At a minimum, I know what potential situations I might face and what gear will solve the problems.

Three specific things I learned:

First, what a double-ender is. Basically when an interview takes place where the participants are in different locations. In this world of technological beauty Skype allows for clean sound and Audacity and a mixing board allow for seamless stitching together of that clean sound and wa-la! you have a great interview piece that sounds like the participants were a mere few inches from each other when they were probably thousands of miles away.

Second, how to adjust the varying volumes of my podcasts using The Levelator. When I recorded my first sad attempt at my first sad podcast, which will eventually show up here in the next few weeks, my voice was LOUD then s o f t and then POPPED and then whissssssspered. This happened because my mouth would move around the microphone as I spoke, varying by inches, but making a big difference in the recording. The Levelator software takes audio files and evens them out so that the volume is consistent throughout and isn’t scaring off listeners.

Third, metadata is important. Have you ever wondered how those scrolling messages you see in your favorite podcasting listings show up in your iPod? Or even how song titles get put into the CDs you burn to your iPod? Ryan Irelan has done me a solid by showing me how metadata is put into a podcast and he gives the business case for doing so with any podcast. Because you need a graphic identity of some kind for YOUR podcast, Irelan shows you how to add them so they show up in somebody’s iTunes or iPod. As icing on the cake, I learned how to go in and fix my album artwork in my iTunes listings and find and add missing album artwork. Those blank albums are something that has always bugged me. That’s just one of the things you can do with metadata but you can also crate your own show descriptions and other cool scrolling text.

The reading from Tricks of the Podcasting Masters (TPM) was all about interviewing techniques. This dovetailed nicely with the guest speaker we had this week, Peg Achterman. There was some crossover between the two books when discussing Skype, which just lent even more credibility that this is the tool for conducting high quality long distance interviews, and double-ending an interview. I also really enjoyed some of th insider advice on how to line up celebrity interviews. The best part of the chapter was on how to not be an a*hole when conducting interviews—be prepared, know your guests, don’t ask questions that will demonstrate you don’t have a clue as to who you are interviewing, an most of all respect your guests. This chapter makes me excited to get out there and interview some people!