My friend and Surrey brother DaveO [of happyfrog and Raincity] is spearheading the next NetTuesday Meetup over at Workspace. He’ll be leading a panel about Podcasting for Change with talent such as Rob Cottingham, Roland Tanglao, and John Bollwitt. Dave’s even put together a promo video to get everyone excited about the event.
We’re just setting up now, waiting for the panelists and of course – the throngs of eager social media do-gooders that will be in attendance tonight.
Update: David Drucker is now here (arriving with John) and he and Dave are discussing David’s post about how the Hippies Saved Vancouver.
I just heard DaveO instruct John to write something down for the panel presentation, “it’ll be like one of those 1970’s game shows,” this is going to be fun.
Update: Things are underway, “so you’re thinking of podcasting eh? First of all let me tell you you’re INSANE,” states DaveO. “It’s one thing to produce content and it’s another to have it actually do something.” Dave starts by introducing the panelists and handing them each a special hat – no joke.
Dave’s first point is to note that the least important part is buying a bunch of expensive equipment and asks the panelists to express a few points about what people should think about when considering podcasting.
Rob: “I would ask myself – do I really care enough about this subject?”
John: “What will your level of commitment be? Are you going to be able to hear yourself and like what you’re saying?” “Are you going to be able to learn with each episode.” “Are you going to have passion?”
There’s a difference between making something for fun and making a big production out of something when it doesn’t need to be. “It’s not a bad idea to start on a hobby podcast before you get started on something other people are dependent on,” remarks Dave.
Update: We now get to the part where the panelists wrote key points on memo cards. John says the most important part is voice – and not necessarily the actual sounds but having your opinions and thoughts expressed. “With audio there’s very little distraction,” says Dave.
[Editor’s note: Roland is streaming this live on his Qik account]
Now what about getting to that first episode? Title, point of view (outsider/insider), the aesthetic etc. Dave notes that storytelling is paramount – it doesn’t need to be a 60 minute high-quality production, you can have your own narrative.
Dave points a few questions to John about soundseeing, which is basically walking around with a recorder and capturing sounds, and talking about what’s going on around you. “You’re going to forget stuff, you’re going to go off on tangents,” it’s okay to veer off your show notes or show plan as long as you tell that story.
He also discusses series – taking snippets of audio, bits and pieces, and pasting it together using his White Poppies for Remembrance series as an example. Rob talks about “Bedtime with Rob and Alex” which is a podcast he did with his wife… from bed.
“Control what you give away,” says Dave. “Find out the parts of you that are interested (but don’t give away your secrets or emotions) but make it personal and be aware.” Especially when it come to doing a podcast for an organization – have that element of disclosure where you decide if you’re an insider or outsider.
“You don’t have to have an intro but your podcast is a lot cooler,” says Dave, “if John had all the time in the world he’d be producing stuff for me all the time!” Dave then curses immigration Canada for allowing John to get a work permit (thus not having much time anymore to do podcast production).
John now breaks out some mobile podcasting tools (the exact one from my Lab with Leo segment). He says not to worry about the tools to start with, just use what you can then you can hone your craft and move forward with production.
There are also some websites that can help you find podsafe music to use, and others where you can find bed music and tunes to spice up your audio (like IODA). You can even find artists that want exposure who might love for you to use their tunes in a podcast – such as Vancouver’s own Derek Miller who has some great instrumental stuff. “Bassoons are great, it’s like a combo between a saxophone and a bong!” quick side note about tunes from Dave. He also says that if you’re soundseeing and folks note a microphone and want to jump up and talk into it – keep rolling! Capture that audio it might be absolutely fantastic, and is totally original/organic.
Now we’re onto the tools and gadgets, there’s a woman here from SFU’s radio station who has been recording with a device that made the panel go “ooooh!” Then Dave remembers that she gets a hat for contributing.
Dave gives a shout out to Father Roderick “on paper we have NOTHING in common, but he makes these amazing podcasts.” He also shows off his new solar power unit that can plug into his recorded to give it a charge, “of course it doesn’t always work here in Vancouver.” Rob notes that sometimes high caliber equipment can be intimidating as well, “you want a compelling and honest story,” so don’t let the tools get in the way.
Dave says the biggest tip he can give when it comes to equipment is to invest in some big earphones – your ears will thank you.
Speaking to Roland, “I don’t think someone gets something out of its box and uses it to make something creative as quickly as you do,” Dave notes. Roland says that you can use your mobile phone to record audio and video easily [Editor’s Note: See previous editor’s note about his Qik stream]. You’d be surprised at what you can use to simply capture audio on the go, like your laptop internal microphone (if you must) and even digital cameras, purely for sound.
Editing tools – what do you use?
Rob: Audacity – an open source application, combined with a few other quick tools for uploading, tags and iTunes magic.
Dave: Apple’s Garage Band, “it comes with the machine.”
John: Ubercaster (for Mac) – which pushes it to iTunes and adds ID3 tags for you (which is why we use it for The Crazy Canucks and RadioZoom). The similar Windows equivalent would be Castblaster. See John’s “Podcasting 101” blog post for more tips and tools.
There’s now a discussion about free podcast hosting services but as John notes, beware – they may try to tag on commercials at the front or tail end of your audio so that probably isn’t the best solution for an organization. Rob says if after hitting the button you realize you’ve uploaded something “hideously compromising,” you have control of the files and the aggregation if you’re self-hosting.
Dave is wrapping up the presentation and Q&A, “there’s a hundred ways to do it, the trick is to find the way that works for you.” Each panelist is now stating their reason for doing what they do and what they love about podcasting while Dave goes on to preach a sort of “fuck stats make art” as it applies to podcasting. If you can find your audience, inspire, get subscribers and participants (in comment form etc.) then that’s the best he can ask for. Rob says to find measurable ways to engage people and look for “wins” if you’re a part of an organization ie. “because of this podcast we were able to…”
A question from the audience asks, how do you get a peer review with podcasting? How do you know the content you’re listening to is from a good source? Dave replies by saying there is peer review, “there are even groups of people who will get together on a Tuesday night to talk about podcasting.” With regards to the quality of the content, Roland chimes in about a national newspaper in Canada saying they’re consistently wrong in their technology section and the only ones who provide accurate information are their bloggers because they actually get immediate comments and feedback.
To wrap things up, Dave asks the panel about their favourite podcasts.
Rob: The Conversations Network
John: (cautiously mentions) the Daily Source Code, if even to know what not to do and also Father Roderick’s podcasts. Also, Island Podcasting and Dick and Jane’s for Canadian podcasts.
Colleen asks Dave what his ideal podcast length would be, what’s the attention span? He says “seabus size” is ideal for him as he dislikes the editing process and would prefer more time creating. Someone else from the audience says she say a chart that stated 10-15 minutes is popular as well as 30-40 minutes on the longer range.
Back to John’s favourite podcasts, This American Life (excellent for story telling) and for those short bites, The Onion Radio News. Dave adds in Cory Doctorow’s podcast and Jay’s Clubside Breakfast Time podcast.
That’s all folks – happy podcasting!