Serial

serial-social-logoI kept reading glowing reviews of this podcast and finally listened to the first episode. And the second. And… I was hooked. Now I’m rationing my listening. Once upon a time I would have described this as “good radio” but it no longer feels like radio to me. And it’s far superior to any podcast I’ve heard before. The people behind this podcast have close ties to This American Life.

Serial is a new podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial (follows) one story – a true story – over the course of a whole season. We follow the plot and characters wherever they take us and we won’t know what happens at the end of the story until we get there, not long before you get there with us.

The episodes I’ve listened to so far (five?) have been sponsored (MailChimp) but they also accept donations (I had no trouble kicking in $20) and they’ve received enough support to commit to a second season.

Each episode is anywhere from half an hour to forty-five minutes but are so well written and produced they seem much shorter.

Radio, podcasting, great story telling… whatever you call this, it’s compelling.

How Adam Carolla Became a Podcast Superstar

This article at Fast Company is more about Adam Corolla and podcasting than radio but this bit sort of jumps out at you:

“Radio has a lot of rules that are set up to protect the foibles and weaknesses of the host.” He names names: “Mark and Brian, Opie and Anthony are, like all radio guys, comedically second tier. I’m not putting these guys down; I’m in that group.” But you’re not going to find a Jon Stewart, a Stephen Colbert, or even a Jimmy Kimmel telling anybody the time during your morning commute. The rules enforce a sameness that eliminates any chance of something original happening. “Radio’s about guys with subpar intellects killing four goddamn hours…

As a former radio guy, I also enjoyed this:

“I’d rather have 10 smart people than a billion retards listening to me.”

I thought we couldn’t say retard.

I enjoyed Carolla when he and Jimmy Kimmel hosted The Man Show. (I think that was what it was called) I’ll sample his podcast and report back.

stitcher: “Your information radio”

The idea behind stitcher is simple. Organize your favorite podcasts and listen to them all together, in the order you want. It seemed more appealing as an iPhone app than on the desktop. (Like so many things). This is what Jeff Jarvis calls “be the platform, not the commodity.”

When our local news radio station switched from CBS to Fox, I really didn’t have a source for national news (after dropping XM some months ago). And I just never seemed to be in the car at the top of the hour.

With stitcher, I select from a variety of news (or other genres) sources and stack them in the order I want to hear them. And stitcher will email or txt me when something updates.

I can really program my own radio station now.

A feature I’d like –but didn’t find on the website– is the option of adding a local or state newscast to my line-up. You can submit a podcast and hope the stitcher folks add it but we’ll have to see how that works.

If I were programming a local station –or even a state news network– I think I would produce at least two special newscasts each day, designed just for podcasting. I’d have one online by 6 a.m. (local time) and the other by 4:30 p.m. I’d probably keep them in the 5 min or less range.

I’d do my best to get stitcher to add them to the lineup while promoting the podcast on air to the local audience.

Here’s something else I might try…

I’d create a KXYZ News Twitter page and blast out any and ever nugget of news I could find. From any news source. Local newspaper, TV station, news releases, blogs… wherever. And once an hour I’d link my tweet to a 2 min audio news summary. With a reminder that more news can be found on our website.

I think the real challenge for MSM is to stop thinking in terms of what is best for us and ask what would be interesting or useful to those formerly known as The Audience. Only then can we begin to reinvent ourselves for the future that is already here.

PS: And one more thing. If I was one of the growing number of reporters (print, radio or TV) currently out of work, I’d use some of my spare time to produce the podcast described above. You don’t need a printing press or studios or radio/TV transmitters or towers. You need a laptop and a camera and a smart phone. And some imagination. Bet you won’t be without a job for long.

“Downloads, podcasts and embed video”

Embedvideo

That was part of a promo I heard on MSNBC tonight. First time I noticed the phrase, "embed video." Even the networks are figuring out it’s a good thing to have your video embedded in millions of blogs and websites.

I’m sure there is still a lot of "…no, no! We want them to come to OUR website!" But the web IS the network now and your affiliates are are all those blogs.

PageCast: Short, sweet and real

There are just so many things I like about The PageCast, I’m not sure where to begin. First, what is The PageCast.

It’s a 60 second video by Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin, previewing the three stories that he thinks you should be watching for today. You’ll find it on the top/right of The Page. Big whoop, right? Okay, here’s some of the things I like about this simple idea (and this particular PageCast):

  • It maximizes the reach of a popular, plugged-in political reporter.
  • It’s short. One minute. Easy to watch, easy to produce.
  • It’s real. Or at least it appears real. Today’s PageCast was recorded in what appears to be Mr. Halperin’s hotel room in South Dakota (prior to Tuesday’s primary). And he obviously just came from the gym or a run. (Note to TV and Hollywood directors: THIS is what real sweat looks like. Not the little spritz you put under your star’s arms and on his chest. Save this image for future reference). And Mark hasn’t shaved yet. The guy looks like we all do on a Sunday morning.
  • Zero production. If I had to guess, I’d say he recorded this with his Mac Book sitting on the hotel desk. Probably in one take. He emails the file to some web monkey who uploads to The Page and it’s done. No crew, no director, no editing.

The news directors of our radio networks would be great at this. And their listeners/readers/viewers would eat it up.

UPDATE: My buddy Kay reports that Mark Halperin records PageCast between 7-9 a.m. (usually), wherever he happens to be and in whatever he happens to be wearing. If he’s on the West Coast, he usually records them at night. He thinks of what he wants to say just before he begins recording (or in the shower or at the gym), on his MacBook Pro (edits with iMovie).

The idea was prompted by the desire to put video on The Page, while keeping it easy to produce and watch. Just as I suspected. Simple idea, well executed.

New report calls podcasting growth “massive”

The guys at Podcasting News share highlights from a new report by Universal McCann that suggests new media is becoming mainstream media. Among the research highlights:

"Blogs are a mainstream media world-wide and a collective rival to traditional media (184m bloggers world-wide, China has the largest blogging community in the world with 42m bloggers) – 73% have read a blog, 45% have started a blog."

Key social platforms mentioned in the report: Blogging; Micro Blogging; RSS; Widgets; Chat Rooms; Message Boards; Podcasts; Video Sharing; Photo Sharing.

If you’re in media now and these terms are foreign to you, or seem silly and pointless, the Cluetrain doesn’t stop here anymore.

Apple wants to be your news and information station

Newscast150

“An Apple patent reveals that the company is working on a podcast aggregator that would dynamically collect the news that you are interested in and deliver a personalized news podcast. In other words – Apple wants to be your news and information station.

The system would allow you to:

* Subscribe to and personalize a podcast with software like iTunes;
* Select news segments selected from a variety of categories; and
* Automatically download the personalized podcast to your Apple TV, iPod or iPhone.

The custom news show could consist of a 5 minute segment from CNN on the day’s national news, a 5 minute segment from a local news station, and a 10 minute segment on sports highlights from ESPN.

Once you select the playlist of content that you’re interested in, Apple’s servers would request the latest podcast content from content creators, stitch the segments together and then deliver the personalized podcast to iTunes or other podcast software. As part of this process, Apple could insert targeted advertising dynamically.” – Apple Insider via Podcasting News

Hmmm. A listener in the states served by our networks could include one of our 4 minute state newscasts, a three minutes sports report and a farm report. That “stitching segments together” part is what I find intriguing. Terry Heaton wrote about the “unbundling” of media. Is this a “re-bundling” of media?

If I were programming a local radio station, I’d be damned sure I had a killer local newscast/podcast up on iTunes.

Public radio and podcasting

Mark Ramsey points us to an interesting piece by “The Long Tail’s” Chris Anderson on how his listening behavior to public radio has been transformed by podcasting.

“I realized that I don’t really support my local affiliate. I love some of the shows it broadcasts and hate others. My attachments are to individual shows, not to a broadcast station. My engagement with public radio is at a more granular level than the affiliate.

Now that I get my radio via podcast, I don’t have to take the bad shows with the good. I’ve got an a la carte menu, and I assemble my own schedule with what I want and when I want it.

But look at the arc of history here. The podcast model is getting cheaper and more ubiquitously available (who doesn’t have a cellphone?), and it serves individual needs and taste better. Meanwhile the broadcast model, which is all about one-size-fits-all taste, is based on human labor costs and costly transmission equipment and is only getting more expensive. You can see how this story ends.”

I’ve had the same guilty thoughts about my own listening habits. I like a lot of NPR programs but listen to them as podcasts. And I would be willing to pay for the best shows (This American Life, for example).

IpodspeakerAnd my morning listening routine has improved with the purchase of a small speaker/doc for my iPod nano. Each evening iTunes downloads any new podcasts to which I’m subscribed, and syncs to the nano. In the morning I pop the nano into the speaker dock and listen to a perfectly customized line-up of progams.

Dave Winer podcasts “because I want to say something”

“There’s a mini-debate going on about whether podcasting is a success or worth it, or whatever, I’m not sure exactly what the issue is, but it’s framed this way –> if you can’t get advertisers to hitch a ride on your podcast then podcasting is not worth much if anything.

My phone doesn’t have a business model. Neither does my porch. I still like having a phone and a porch because they help me meet new people and communicate with people I know. Same with my blog and podcast.

I do a podcast from time to time because I want to say something. Whether I can run an ad on my podcast means nothing to me because I would never do it. … I would never burden my podcasting with the task of supporting me. It’s not why I podcast. … Blogging and podcasting exist independent of a professional’s ability to eek out a living using the tools of blogging and podcasting.”

You can read Mr. Winer’s full post here.

My colleague David is helping a number of clients with blogs and podcasts and none are ad supported. They exist solely to help tell the client’s story. Blogs and podcasts are inexpensive, effective, easy and fun.

For my part, nothing ruins a good hobby like trying to make money with it.

MicPort Pro

The MicPort Pro (from CEntrance) might just be the USB mic preamp I’ve been looking for (for years). It’s a little gadget that lets you plug a professional grade dynamic mic into the USB port on a computer. I’ve tried several USB mics but none really sounded all that good. And I have a mixer with pre-amp that allows me to use a good mic with the MacBook but that means lugging around more hardware.

Quicktime_playerI won’t try to describe the features and functions of the MicPort because the video at the bottom of this page does a fine job of that. (“No drivers. No batteries. No latency. Just plug it in and you are ready to record.”)

You can hear what it sounds like on this 30 second video clip. Yes, I’m still playing with Photo Booth and and yes, the audio/video still isn’t sync’d. Once they get that fixed, this will amuse me for hours.