Monthly Archives: February 2006

Published in the February 2006 Issue #1 Podcast User Magazine (Download)
I’d wanted to start my own podcast for a few months, as an extension of the Indie Launchpad website (http://www.indielaunchpad.com), where I feature reviews of bands and artists. I thought it would be a good idea to feature the same bands and artists in a podcast. So one day I sat down at the computer with my crappy little mic, and off I went. After toying around for a few hours, I was ready to start my new mega production. I’d started off with some brief notes, listing the things I wanted to cover and all other relevant information, like web addresses and email, etc. However I just couldn’t string several words together without pausing with an “errr”, or “ahhhhh” or numerous other devices for pausing while I thought of what I wanted to say. So I put down my pad and left the podcast for a few days. This happened every time I tried to get the podcast recorded.

So, I thought, why not script each segment, then that way I can get rid of all the pausing and vocal gaffes and have a nice clean show. And that is what I did. I got to the end of the show feeling very satisfied with myself. Here was 18 minutes of great music and some nice clear, succinct words from me. Well, thatʼs what I thought until I listened to the podcast. The music, of course, was fine, but my voice was horrible. It sounded like some awful kind of Apple/Mac, speech-synthesised voice, only not as friendly. Again I walked away and pondered my podcast future. After a couple of days it dawned on me that no matter how hard I tried, my podcast was never going to be perfect. I decided to send out my sample podcast to a few select people, just to make sure it wasn’t painful listening, and I received some very positive feedback. Yes, my voice needed some work, but I got some great advice and decided to release the podcast as is.

The following week I did another podcast. This time I decided to do it all off the cuff, with my brief notes, and wow, what a difference. Yes, the pauses and stuff are there, but the show, on the whole, feels a lot more natural. I recently released the third episode, and Iʼm getting there. It’s going to take work and lots of practice, but I’m on my way and already have quite a respectable audience, so I must be doing something right. It’s better to have something out there to build on, as opposed to holding back all the time until you have something you consider perfect. I’m not saying you just release the first thing you record; you have to have something that people want to listen to. Audiences can be quite forgiving if they can see what you are trying to achieve. Here’s some of the advice I received; hopefully, it can be of use:

  1. Slow down, it’s not a race. This also gives you the opportunity to think a bit longer about what you want to say
  2. If are passionate about your subject matter, don’t be afraid to let it show
  3. Don’t think of yourself talking to an audience, think of yourself talking to a friend; intimacy is the key

My last piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy doing your podcast. If you
don’t, it will soon show.

Published in the Februrary 2006 Issue #1 Podcast User Magazine (Download)

A handy guide to podcasting terminology

As is always the way with new technologies, they all have their buzz words, some are regular words, given a new purpose, whilst others are totally new words, like podcast. Once these new words are introduced and the technology juggernaut begins to gain momentum, it’s hard to change the word, so it’s helpful to have some understanding of these terms.

Podcast / Podcasting
“Podcasting” is the term that combines two words: “iPod” and “broadcasting”. One of the many confusions is that you do not need an iPod to listen to podcasts. In their simplest form, podcasts are just MP3 audio files that have been made available for easily downloading. In 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared “podcasting” the word of the year, defining the term as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player”. A personal audio player can be anything from a desktop or laptop computer, a handheld gaming console, a portable MP3 player or even a regular audio CD player if the podcasts have been written
to a CD.

Subscribe / Subscription
One of the many misconceptions regarding podcasts, are the terms “subscribe” and “subscription”. To anyone not too versed in the ways of the internet, these can seem somewhat confusing and intimidating. Many people see the term “subscribe” and choose to give podcasts a wide berth because they assume that subscribing costs money, as it usually does with magazines. Many people whom I’ve introduced to podcasts, come back to me and say “yes, all very interesting, but I don’t want to pay for something before I know whether I’ll like it or not”. This has happened all too often and now I make sure to let new users know what to expect so now I have a lot fewer questions regarding the subscription model.

Aggregator
This is the computer program you use to subscribe to our favourite podcasts. The aim of the aggregator is to intermittently check to see if there are any new podcasts available for the shows you are subscribed to and, if so, download them without any manual intervention from
you, thus making the whole podcasting experience much more effortless.

RSS Feed
This is the behind-the scenes magic that the aggregators use to download and analyse to determine if there are any new podcasts available. This is one of the things you look for on a website, where you want to subscribe. You will usually see a “Subscribe to Podcast” button or a “Podcast RSS” button.

XML
This is what an RSS feed is comprised of. “XML” stands for E[x]tensible [M]arkup [L]anguage, used to store or transport data. XML differs from many other forms of data in that it is for the most part human-readable. I hope this has clarified some of the most confusing terms. If you would like to see a further breakdown of some other words, do not hesitate to email me.