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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 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.

I was pleased to see a profile on Wine LIbrary in The Business Podcasting Book (BPB) (p.48-49). I found winelibrarytv.com about 4 months ago and have become an avid subscriber ever since. In fact, this video podcast is what really got me hooked on podcasting. The host, Gary Vaynerchuk, is “out to change the wine world, whether they like it or not,” and he does so by tearing at the walls of prestige and inclusiveness that “old wine” has created. Gary is a real person who shows his emotions and his heart every episode with single camera, uncut episodes. Sometimes he is on fire and “brings The Thunder” when he gets excited about a wine he is tasting and sometimes he is just in a down mood. No matter, if you watch long enough the most amazing thing happens. You feel a part of his family and visa versa. He talks about not trusting his palate (his “pal”) or anyone’s, only your own. He refreshes constantly on the value of family and connecting with people and uses wine as the catalyst to connection.

The show is a component to his business, of course, and he is the first to admit (and has done so) that he saw social media as fresh terrain from which to sow seeds and reap profits. However, I also think he would agree with me when I hypothesize that the show has taken on a life of its own and has moved beyond buying and selling. He has created a community and is now beholden to that community.

Case in point: Taste Washington, the annual wine event held in Seattle on April 5-6, featured Vaynerchuk in a seminar where he taped one of his shows in front of the seminar audience. I was in attendance and it was standing room only. Later that evening there was an event held at Seattle Wine Storage attended by Vanerchuk, Mott, his one man production team, and Matt, his personal assistant. Several well known wine makers, and may I say savvy ones for understanding the power of brand association, along with well over 100 “Vayniaks” as the community calls itself. Each person brought wine and food. There were over 100 bottles of very high quality and expensive Washington wines essentially donated to the community, by the community, to be tasted. Gary circulated around the room for hours and made real connections with everyone, proving he is more than just hype, he is legitimate.

This may be the toughest part of podcasting for corporations; how to be real. An audience can sniff out insincerity a mile away. And, it’s a good lesson for those of us going into podcasting. Be real. Be passionate. Talk about what you love. If you do and you happen to have something to sell, the brand story you are creating by being true will convert into dollars.

Gary serves as a lightening rod for this community built around good wine, good conversation and new friends. Imagine he does this nation wide. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when he informed us that a recent show had over 90,000 views.

This is the power of podcasting. And the power of community in building brand in our modern times.