Podcasting Ideas

One of many things that came out of SXSW was that I should consider exploring the world of the podcasting.

It’s not something I’ve done before, mainly because I’m not a big listener of podcasts. I had concluded, as has my colleague Tom Scotney, that there was limited value in listening to an entire podcast on the off-chance that some of the content was worthwhile. Better to have text and scan through it, I thought.

But, since then, I’ve changed my mind somewhat. One reason is because I had forgotten that I am an avid listener to BBC Radio 4. Now, when I switch on Radio 4 I have no idea what I am going to be listening to, but I enjoy it because I know it will be pretty good quality. Why could this not apply to podcasts?

Secondly, I don’t have an iPod (I seriously want one!) – so I don’t download podcasts to listen to later, I have to listen to them pretty much then and there, or play them on my computer when I’m working (and not paying attention).

Thirdly, most of the podcasts I’ve come across don’t provide a detailed summary that would allow me to judge whether I wanted to listen or not. But this may have been resolved by Stef Lewandowski who has suggested using Viddler to annotate different parts of the podcast, as Dave Seah has done with his SXSW video.  This, combined with some form of executive summary, could make it easier to see “at a glance” whether the podcast is for you.

And the final reason I want to podcast is… people have told me to! There was a general consensus at SXSW that it would be a good way to ease myself into other forms of communicating over the web and I’m enthusiastic to give it a go.

For my journo-type work I have me a little Olympus WS-300M and, I have been told, that it would do the job for recording podcasts.  But I think I would need a microphone. The thing is, if I’m interviewing people would I want to have them on a clip mic, or would it be better to have a multidirectional mic so that it’s easier to hear me asking the questions. If so, I’d want something that didn’t pick up too much background noise.

As for my first podcast, well I haven’t asked anyone yet but I think it might be nice to interview some of the journalists at The Birmingham Post about how the move to digital has changed their working practices in recent years and how they think it will develop in the future. This would give me practice at interviewing, would have relevance to the sort of thing I blog about and might work as a slice of mass observational history. Thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Podcasting Ideas

  1. Have you played with the Olympus? The built in mic might actually be enough.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about with Viddler, is there even a section for audio files? Most podcast feeds give you a way to present show notes for listeners to look over if they want to preview. Many podcasters don’t bother, but we always do at ours.

    In any case, good luck to you.

  2. Think I’ve been a bit misrepresented on this one. Anyway, for me there has to be some kind of point for it to be worth recording something as a podcast, either in the content or the delivery

    Obviously if there’s some sort of audio value to the content that text can’t put across, then a podcast is the best thing to do – see the success of the Gervais/Merchant/Pilkington podcasts.

    But I think the key thing is about convenience. At the moment, the technology isn’t generally in place for podcasting to be convenient for the majority of users, even among the more tech-savvy, as you an I have found. I think it’s telling that you were inspired by people who are presumably on the cutting edge of technology use in SXSW. So maybe not as a journalism tool, but usefuk for specific users.

    But that’s all changing, as was said in JEECamp the other day, and when the technology changes enough, it changes what’s the most convenient way to publish. So there’s no harm in getting in ahead of the curve.

    And the best thing about podcasting/video recording, when it becomes useful as a mass journalism tool, it’s yet another way for people to connect with a journalist, to hear their voice. Transparency–>trust blah blah blah.

    I’ll be very interested to see what you do. How about next time you do a big interview, post the annotated audio in full, compare it to the copy that eventually comes out, would be interesting to see/hear. You can interview me if you want, although I don’t think I’ll have a lot to add due to lack of experience.

    Well… that was a lot more than I was planning to write. I’ll record it in my dreary monotone and post it for your listening pleasure if you’d prefer…

  3. @tomscotney You have a lot good stuff to say! And more and more so, I think. I like the fact you’re picking up on the transparency/trust issue. That’s one of my hobby horses. 🙂 I will interview you.

    @efbq Thanks for the advice.

  4. Stef and I sat down at SXSW with his recording device thingy with the intention of just getting a few ideas down and ended up with a couple of half hour conversations which, though I haven’t listened back to them yet, got me thinking we should do a weekly show. No script – just the two of us bouncing ideas off each other and seeing where they go, only with a slightly more formal voice. I’d also like to bring “guests” in occasionally broadening out the discussion. I’m guessing the model would be something like Thinking Allowed, only less structured.

    So it’s good to see you’re thinking along similar lines. We could have a distributed Birmingham radio station in the makings!

    (actually, that recording the three of us did at the airport would be the sort of thing too: http://www.steflewandowski.com/?p=368 )

  5. Podcasting (both video and audio, although the layman has podcasting being audio only), is a good place to start, and you hit the main issues here. The biggest is searching inside the content; that’s not there yet at all. If it was, contextual ads might be possible.

    Delivery is the second – it’s not coincidence my easiest to grow podcast is one for the Sony Playstation Portable, which has it’s own podcast application in it to download the show over the built in Wi-Fi. Over time I think we’ll see more connected devices (iPhones, N95’s etc) that will podcast over the air and help this point. Discovery is another matter 🙂

    And yes, podcasting, which is just blogging with something other than words, is a good way to start stretching out your wings. Imagine a living history of Birmingham podcast, interviewing people who have contributed over the last however many years? Grab a local sponsor, and you have budget, delivery, new content, and a great project for the paper!

  6. Hi Joanna,

    Glad to hear you’re thinking of entering the world of podcasting.

    We’ve got an easy-to-use product that will get your podcast online in under 5 minutes. The site even has a built-in audio/video flash recorder so you won’t need any special equipment to record audio or video episodes. It’s free, fast and fun!

    Please call our support line if you experience any difficulty getting your show set up. +1 (610) 388-9911

    Hope to see your show soon,

    Doug Taylor

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