Archive for audio

Why Podcast?

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , on March 10, 2011 by Lance Strzok

So the question of “why podcast?” has come up, and I thought I would share some of the reasoning behind the decision to give the podcast medium a run.

A little background
I recall hearing that the average commute time in DC was over a half an hour. I commute about an hour and fifteen minutes a day, each way. So I usually check NPR news headlines, and about a half hour of 103.5 to catch the main stories, weather, traffic etc…

So how do I use/engage my brain for the rest of the commute? I turned to podcasts. And in doing so, I found many good sources of relevant information and news I could use to maintain situational awareness with regard to issues I am involved with at work. I am aware of the latest developments in the areas I am most concerned with, and I hear varying viewpoints on those issues from several sources over the course of a few days. I have subscribed to individual podcasts, and I use a podcast streaming service called Stitcher for some of the broader interest areas and what others in my field are sharing and talking about.

Thoughts
As I started to think more about it, I realized that if I were to compare the costs of my minutes – the minutes in the commute were pretty cheap. Cost here being the cost of what do I give up to listen to a podcast on my way to work vs what is the cost of the time I would spend reading all of that information while at work. Or put another way, what can I not do while I am locating and reading these articles or bits of information?

It dawned on me that most people are interested in the information that our communications committees are putting out across several formats and publications that include a newsletter, emails, banners, signs, internal web page, etc… But, when I thought about it, what I wanted was one source, and I wanted to move that source to less expensive minutes, otherwise – I was not likely to digest all of those different resources, and I am missing out on useful information.

Motivation
So there is was. I wanted to know those things, but they were spread out, and using expensive work minutes instead of cheap commuting minutes. (Commuter minutes, gym minutes, elevator minutes, lunch minutes etc…)

That is the motivation for consolidating those bits of information into a podcast and allowing the workforce to access the information from home, download the mp3 files to a smartphone, or mp3 player, and listen to the issues that might otherwise go unknown.

If you are interested in the mechanics of how I am creating the podcast, the previous blog entry to this covers that pretty well, and I may add another when I get to the point where I am interviewing instead of just reading the news.

Question for you – where are your cheapest minutes? I don’t think my list is big enough, and I would like to know when you listen or might listen to a podcast.

If you have any comments, or questions – please leave them below in the comments, I will respond to them and thanks for reading.

My Podcast Process and Thoughts

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by Lance Strzok

So here are some lessons learned from my recent podcast.

Content gathering
– Gathered from various sources, and be sure to get the source information for each part
* Official Emails
* Company portal highlights
* Interviews with people
* Newsletters (internal and external)
* Questions
* Ask for content from Social Media sources
* Send email request for input with links to pages
* Make some phone calls to personally invite someone to interview with you
* RSS feed for items that matter to everyone
– I put all of the content into a shownotes page on a wiki for the production end of things and invite (encourage) others to begin to edit there, otherwise I just put the content in myself from email, or whatever source they are sending it to me from
– After writing it all down and smoothing it over for speaking it aloud, I am ready to record
– Create a section at the beginning in which you mention the contents of the episode, and the date so that listeners may choose to listen or skip that particular podcast (thank you readers for that feedback)

Recording
– I started to record them as mp3 files with a Zoom H1 hand held recorder, but now under lessons learned, I will save them as wave files since the Levelator tool provided by the Conversations Network takes that as an input later in the process and I want to reduce the number of conversions (which only add noise as evidenced in the first podcast). I use the 48khz sample rate with 16 bit because it is the best that can be converted by the Levelator or converted to mp3. I also use the autolevel setting on the back, as well as the low cut on.

During Recording
– Have a glass of something you like to drink near by
– I don’t mind making a long recording, just make sure that if you make a mistake while recording, to pause, regain composure, pick the spot you wan to redo, and after a noticeably long enough time start the section over. In this way when editing, you will clearly see a long pause that will indicate the location of the edit. (Thanks to that tip from Robert and Tiffany Rapplean from their podcast – Intellectual Icebergs)
– Find a quite place, and give some thought to the room you are in with regard to sound waves and how they will arrive at the microphone as well as materials that will absorb sound

Save Raw Recording
– Save the raw recording before doing anything else and store in a folder

Levelator
– You can use the Levelator tool to even out the different levels in the sound file and bring it to a consistent output sound level so that episodes are generally equal from show to show
Editing
– I use Audacity to Edit the wave files, (again, switching to wave files to reduce the number of conversions that reduce sound quality)
– Edit out the bad sections and shorten up long pauses
– Add intro and extro music or words as desired
– Insert commercials as desired (I don’t do this – yet)
– There are other resources within Audacity to do more editing
– Save this file as an edited wave file so that if you have to add sections (insert additional entries), that will be easy


Convert
– Now using Audacity export the edited file as an mp3 file for upload to the server

Last Listen
– Give the show the last listen while following along with the shownotes
– Make sure all the content that is in the show notes is represented (I forgot a section in my first podcast)
– Make time hacks in the shownotes so that if people want to skip to a section, they can do so

Upload Link and Market
– Upload the file to the host server
– Copy the show notes and time hacks from the wiki page where they were created into a blog post and email for linking and feedback
– Make links wherever possible in the shownotes to sources and important nouns
– Link to the podcast, shownotes, and feedback from various locations
– Include a link to subscribe to the podcast or updates when possible
– Post the blog, and verify that all the links work – if not, fix them
– Let your users know that there is a new podcast available with a link to automatically download the mp3 file

– email the podcast distro list you may have and include in the email the time hacks and topics for the show

Follow up on Feedback
– Make sure you stay engaged and follow up on feedback that comes back to you on the blog

If you have additional thoughts on improving this process, please let me know, I aim to make it better as I go, and thanks for your thoughts in advance.