Podcasting suggestions, advice from a guy who doesn’t podcast

mic.jpgSo I’m not a podcaster. I’ve participated in a few podcasts. I’ve recorded things on my computer, but never made a podcast. I’ve never even recorded a Skype call. So you might be wondering what qualifications I have to make suggestions or give advice about said medium.

Well, first of all, I’m not going to, because Donna Papacosta already podcasted the concept I was cooking up and going to write about, so there! (I’ll be coming back to this.)

Secondly, I listen to a lot of podcasts. And to me, knowing what one likes or doesn’t like about podcasts really gives that person ample qualification. Plus, I was in a band for over six years, engineered two full-length CDs and still record my own little ditties occasionally, so I know a little bit about recording equipment.

Tertiarily, this is my blog. I don’t have to have authority, experience or knowledge, I just have to have an audience. Which I’m sure I’m losing at about 6 readers per word at this point. Hey, isn’t that the point sometimes when you’re blogging? Isn’t that the blogosphere motto: Don’t have any facts, figures, or knowledge, but write vehemently about stuff you don’t understand.

Gosh, I’m snarky today. Sorry I’m so cynical, but you’ve got to tell me you’ve noticed. It’s either an echo chamber or it’s a blind rant…no, wait, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, sometimes it’s a complete echo chamber of ranting blindly. You wouldn’t know it, but I do love the medium. I love the whole shebang, bad and all.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to many, many podcasts since I first discovered them, oh…late 2005. Some good, some bad, and they’re getting better. I started thinking I’d write up a little top ten on what my suggestions would be to future or newbie podcasters. Things that people wouldn’t ordinarly think of without a little recording experience. The beauty of the medium is that the barrier to entry is so low, right? But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you should think about first.

However, in traditional I-used-to-live-in-New-York -and-then-I-moved-to-Canada-so-long-ago- I-forgot-how-to-carry-my-own-illegally-concealed-firearm fashion, Donna Papacosta came out with this great podcast on January 10th titled Insider’s Podcasting Secrets: 10 Things Every Podcaster Should Know, which is a cumbersome title and not one I would have used, but it’s straight forward and to the point. It was also featured on the Feedburner site, which must mean something because I know what Feedburner is and therefore what Donna has achieved must be important.

No, for the title of this post/podcast I would have chosen something with a little more panache. Something like, “Ten Ways To Cast Your Pod Appropriately” or “Don’t Screw This Up: How to avoid making your podcast the laughing stock of the entire freakin’ world,” or even “Podcasting suggestions, advice from a guy who doesn’t podcast.” But it’s Donna’s show, so she can call it whatever she wants.

This is a must listen – I’ll repeat – This is a must listen! Put your eye right up to the monitor just so you get it – this is a must listen for the podcast novice or anyone who has ever thought that maybe they would podcast or even participate in one just once. Even if you’ve done 10 shows, listen to this podcast. Her advice is simple, to the point, and very important. My big argument about podcasting is, yes, content is king, I’ll gladly put up with the occasional poor audio quality of a presentation because I know it’s going to be worth it. Better yet, next episode I might be able to actually hear something. It all evens out. But I have – those of you with weak stomachs might want to skip to the next paragraph break – but I have unsubscribed – YES, I ADMIT IT, unsubscribed to podcasts because they were the audio equivilant of fingernails on a chalkboard.

Oh, wait, that is audio. Bad metaphor.

Anyway, it was terrible to listen to episode after episode and no amount of “great content” can stem the flow of unscribes to that malodorous effluent. Yes, I had to look those words up.

One thing Donna doesn’t cover is sound effects. And this might seem a bit advanced, but it’s the only original thing I can come up with that she hasn’t covered. All I’m asking for here is a “ding” a “ping” or a “bong.” A musical trill, the sound of a drill, a reverberous gong. Arpeggio, just so you know, three notes of a chord. A puff on a flute, a little horn toot, a boat horn on the fjord. The point is, sometimes a little musical umph (technical term) can help separate segments of your show. I hate to brag, but one person who does this really well is Donna Papacosta. Just short little anythings can help tell your audience that something is changing. Visually, we’d see paragraphs indented in print or a super-bright flash in a video. Aurally, we need the help. So if you’re introducing an interview, ending an interview, going to a new segment, or having a flashback of an earlier show – help an ear out. And I like them short. I love FIR, but I can’t stand the musical introductions to their segments…too long. You could listen to Inside PR for the jingle I wrote for the Inside PRoper English segment…funny how they only used it for two shows…

Now, go listen to Donna’s Trafcom News podcast #48.

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7 Responses

  1. Luke, the cheque (or “check” for American readers) is in the mail.

    Hey, I’m blushing here in my igloo. Thanks for the kind words.

    You are 100% right about sound effects. I read somewhere (and I wish I’d saved the reference) that when you interrupt the regular flow of chatter with something like a short sound effect, the listener’s mind automatically refocuses. Makes sense to me.

    Thanks again, Luke.;-))

  2. Whoa, what the hell? I don’t remember seeing anything complimentary in there. Going to have to proofread my work from now on.
    Geez, people will start thinking I like some of these people…

  3. Luke,

    Congrats on the blog exposure. I tried posting a message already, looks like it didn’t take.
    Let me know how things are goin’: ishaw1453@gmail.com.

    -Dave Shaw

  4. Luke…you know how I feel about YOU already, so it will come as no surprise that I disagree about sound-effects. Terry and I have been battling about this on Inside PR since the get-go. Personally, I don’t like the sounders, bumpers, stings…whatever you call them. Don’t even get me started about the jingles that have crept into ATS and FIR…not my mug of beer. It comes off to me as un-necessary and over-produced and sometimes even distracting.

    It’s a personal preference. But since blogs are about ranting about things you have very little grasp of (you’ve proven that), I figured I’d join in with my spleen-venting admission.

  5. Jones,
    Thanks for venting your spleen.

    I hope to never have to write those words again. Ever.

    Thanks for your tired, loathsome comments. I was just thinking, “how can I get more nutcases involved in leaving comments on my blog?” and bam! there you were. Wonder what the draw was…

    But since you’re here, I mostly agree with you. I already expressed my distaste with the ATS and FIR jingles. They make me sick. I know they’re not long, but I actually FF my iPod just to avoid them. They’re their shows, they can do whatever they want.
    All I’m asking for is something to shift the mind at times – specific times – not just have dings and songs for no reason. In fact, I voted against putting music on your show, doesn’t fit in. What I’m talking about is shows with flashbacks and other confusing shifts. The #200FIR and some of the other year-end casts I listen to were flashing back to old episodes. In those situations it would have been a hell of a lot easier to follow what was going on with some sort of aural clue instead of just one clip ending and the podcaster picking right up. Several times it took me too long to register that the “flashback” clip had ended and it was the “current” podcaster commenting. That’s all. Just to avoid confusion.
    And overproducing? Far too often I hear underproduction. I understand the down and dirty lure of the podcast. “Listen, I’m recording on my laptop from the couch! Listen, I’m in my car! Listen, I’m recording this at my dad’s funeral!” Idiocy and laziness are far too often hidden by ease of production and “getting it” mentalities.
    Music on some podcasts. Distracting, yes, but only when NOT having it would be more distracting.
    Peace.

  6. Luke…you are a goddam riot. I’ll buy the beers when you’re in Toornto. Terry won’t. He drinks lemonade.

  7. Jones,
    It’s a deal. I’ll see you Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday for Lunch, Saturday night and on my way to the airport on Sunday, then.

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