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Jason Scott

Some Podcasting/Show Advice

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Somehow I ended up on some mailing list that gives lots and lots of advice and then wants me to buy something. It's called the "Web Informant". I'm sometimes really lazy about getting off these lists, and this is one of those where this is the case.

Anyway, he posted a thing about "podcasting for beginners" that's actually pretty helpful. I'm going to dump the whole thing here, because what the hell. I'll leave his silly self-promo junk in it so people can go read up on the guy if they want.

Web Informant 26 April 2006: How to Coach Beginning Podcasters

I have been spending some time the last couple of weeks with two

clients to try to help them become podcasters. One is a filmmaker,

the other a leadership coach and consultant. In both cases, they are

somewhat computer and Internet-savvy, run their own small businesses

and have put up rudimentary Web sites. They both wanted to use

podcasts to promote their core business and as another marketing tool

in their arsenal. Where they needed me was to help them get over the

technical humps of creating and distributing the podcasts.

It has been a fascinating learning experience for me on several

levels. Here's what I have found out.

First, the whole domain management/registrar system isn't for mere

mortals. While it has gotten better since the go-go days of the

1990s, it still needs work to do even the simplest tasks.

In both cases, my clients needed new domains to point to their

podcasts that would supplement their existing ones that they started

for their businesses. We had to dig around to find their registrar

login information. Now, while I still host one of my domains with

Network Solutions, I have found that GoDaddy offers better prices and

better service, particularly for managing multiple domains. They also

don't hide the additional charges after you purchase the basic domain

name. So we first had to set up the domains on GoDaddy and show my

clients what was involved in pointing to these new domains at their

old servers. In both cases, they had their domains set up by their

computer consultant, but I wanted them to take control and become

masters of their own podcasting domain.

I think it is very important for branding purposes that you have a

domain that matches the name of your podcast, and that you can say

the name clearly and have people remember what they are listening to

the podcast. The name should also match your email address too.

Next we started creating a couple of sample podcasts. Creating

compelling content is hard work, and requires three skills -- script

blocking, writing and storytelling. It helps to have that Radio Voice


First, before you do anything, you need a template or outline or

whatever you want to call it that blocks out what you intend to say,

how the podcast will flow, and what pieces you will need to put

together. I will never forget how I came to write my first published

book. I wrote it with Marshall Rose, the originator of the email

protocol that we all use today and author of several books by the

time he came to me to help him write his next one back in 1998.

Marshall taught me how to block out a book and organize ourselves

with chapters and sections in such a way that the two of us could

complete the manuscript without having to be in the same city, time

zone, or even writing portions of the same chapters together. It was

a wonderful experience, and the same thing holds true for podcasts,

only on a much smaller scale.

For example, here is one template. First is the intro message that

names the speaker and a brief five-word description of the podcast.

Then, we state the problem or issue that is at hand. Next, tell the

story illustrating the meat of the matter. Finally, wrap it up with

lessons learned, or the outro mentioning the URL, email and other

contact info.

In addition to blocking out your script, you next have to write one

that is solid, and then be able to narrate it so it doesn't sound

like you are reading it. The best podcasts are well written ones that

have flowing sentences, engaging thoughts that are connected in some

coherent fashion. If you aren't an extemporaneous speaker, you need

to write the stuff down first and go over it so that it sounds

natural and like you talk. A great example of this is Nemcoff's

Pacific Coast Hellway podcasts that he claims he does from his car,

driving down Pacific Coast Highway on his way to work. He told me

that he is reading from a script that he polishes in advance. How he

can operate his podcasting rig, read from a script, and navigate the

twists and turns of PCH is beyond me. (Maybe Intern Guy is doing the

actual driving?)

Anyway, back to lessons learned. Why all this trouble with the raw

materials, you may ask? Podcasts are personal conversations between

the broadcaster and the listener. Because so many of us listen to

them on headphones, or in the solitude of our cars, we tend to

develop relationships with the podcaster and begin to think that he

or she is speaking only to us. It helps to have something to say and

to say it in a way that will keep the audience engaged. Too many

podcasters take the route of having a couple of guys jabbering away:

I have listened to the first ten minutes of many of these and don't


Finally, you have to be a great storyteller and put together a

compelling story that will keep the audience's interest. I listen to

some podcasts that last for 20 minutes to an hour -- in some cases,

the hour-long versions have more compelling stories than the shorter

ones. It helps to be a gifted speaker and know how to string along

your audience with word pictures, letting them illustrate what you

are saying in their minds. The best radio broadcasters take this for

granted, and it is a skill that only comes with lots of practice.

Once you have a couple of scripts together, you have to record them

in your computer. This is where the hairy edge of the podcasting

tools really shows its dark underbelly, and where one of my clients

(the leadership coach) had the most trouble. He wasn't a computer

wizard, and he was also using the computer to do something completely

different from his normal email/word processing milieu. I had to

design a set of tools that were relatively simple, and that he could

easily use to get the audio tracks on his computer. We ended up with

M-Audio's Podcast Factory, which is a box that includes Audacity

software, a good quality mic, and an USB/audio preamp. The product

claims to include everything in the box to do podcasts, but only if

you are running Windows, and only if you have Strom or some other

computer expert looking over your shoulder to tie up loose ends and

download a missing piece here or there.

Both clients reached roadblocks creating the final MP3 file that is

the actual podcast, and getting them uploaded to the Internet. With

the leadership coach using Audacity, the trouble was the missing LAME

encoder that converts the Audacity native files into MP3s. We had to

root around on the Internet and download the right version to his

Mac. My other client, the filmmaker, was used to using Final Cut Pro

(also on her Mac), so we used that to create the audio files. But

again, FCP only outputs to .WAV not to MP3s, so we had to find

something else to use for that. It would be nice to have something

that could do the podcast from beginning to end in a single

application, but we aren't there yet.

Finally, there is the upload step, and the promotional step. These

two go hand-in-hand and are perhaps the most important ones in the

entire process. They are important because otherwise no one will find

-- and listen to -- your podcasts. Part of having a great podcast is

producing enough short promos that can be played on other podcasts,

and knowing what those complementary podcasts are and being able to

find the hosts or producers of them to get the promos played. At this

point, I suggested finding the right 20-something who is familiar

with online communities and help both my clients out in getting heard

in the right places. You also have to tag the files with the right

information so that search engines will find them and that iTunes

users can view what they are about before they play them.

Obviously, there is a lot more to this than I have put down here. But

what is exciting about doing this is that I can help connect the dots

for people that have a lot to say and just need to get the technology

out of their way and create their thing.

If you are interested in having me coach you to create a great

podcast series, drop me an email and we can chat about what fees and

time are involved. And maybe one of these days I will actually have

time to write my own podcasts too!

Where in the world is Strom?

Next week is Interop, I will be at the show starting Sunday night

through Wednesday. My schedule is pretty well set, but I do have some

time on Monday afternoon if you would like to get together and gripe

about the oddities and absurdities of Las Vegas.

On May 13 here in LA, I will be part of the local chapter of the

National Speaker's Association May Media Madness seminar. We match up

media bookers and producers with speakers giving their pitch about

their expertise. It is a fun-filled morning taking place in the

beautiful City of Commerce, appropriately enough.

The beginning of June I am working at Stanford University, my old

alma mater, with Information Security magazine, testing a bunch of

SSL VPN products. It will be great to be back on campus. As many of

you might not know, when I got the idea for Network Computing's "real

world labs" we had put one together at Stanford. Just goes to show

you what a potent idea it was 16 years ago. And speaking of Network

Computing, I will be writing the September cover story. I am excited

about being back in its pages after so many years and working with

some of the people who I helped launch their publishing careers.


David Strom

Santa Monica, CA

310 829 4742

Web Informant is ® registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

ISSN #1524-6353 registered with U.S. Library of Congress

Entire contents copyright 2006 by David Strom, Inc.

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Tired of reading these in email? Go to my blog and sign up for the RSS feed at:



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strom: you're just mad because you never registered :P


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