Sunday, April 18, 2010

Podcasting: Intimidating? Yesterdays medium? or are you plain scared?

For the record, yes - those are actual turntables behind me, I'm wearing a Blue Oyster Cult T-Shirt that is still in my closet and that production board I have my hands on had actual dials. It's retro all right and it was on the top 10 list of things I did and had a blast doing!

Radio 64, WDTU Delhi - or as we called it "Delaware Counties Leading College Radio Station" The secret was, we were the ONLY SUNY college radio station in Delaware County so that was the joke! Why am I sharing this? For one thing almost ANYBODY could have joined the station (and they did) but all you needed to be successful was have a willingness to be yourself, enjoy your style of music, and have fun.

Not a far stretch for the same requirements to host a podcast!

In Atlanta GA at the 10th annual NonProfit Technology Conference I was extremely fortunate to sit in on an awesome "We Are Media Podcasting Workshop" — As part of the We Are Media Project, my bud and co-presenter Chad Norman, Blackbaud’s Internet marketing manager and host of The Baudcast, let me crash the workshop on podcasting basics for nonprofit.

I found the session to be one of the best hands on experiences at a conference such as NTC - we actually broke into teams of two and using simple, free tools set off to create a pod cast. My co-podcasting partner was Leah Hazard marketing/social media for Mercy Corps, she can be found at Leah was a natural at conversation, even though she complained of being jet lagged. Having a conversation is half the effort. This concept may scare off some of you but here is the secret: it's easier then you think AND all you have to remember is to be yourself.

One of the DJ training concepts I used while managing the WDTU radio station was to tell potential DJ's to relax and just think of the microphone as a friend you are having a conversation with. I believe people see a microphone and they naturally tense up. I have a friend who says I have an Al Michaels style - not sure I buy that and apologies to Al but if you listen to Michaels style, he's just talking, there is nothing forced when the man speaks and that my friends is the key.

One of the many fine points Chad made during the workshop was to be prepared. If you are taking this medium serious and keep in mind, audio pod casting has an audience and should be one of the many tools you keep in your "how you market / message your brand" toolbox. Know some background of the folks you're talking with, have an outline of talking points related to the topic in order to keep the conversation moving - you want to be able to interject if you feel the person you are interviewing starts rambling and more importantly you want some sort of flow. You are the moderator or Chevy Chase said in Caddyshack, BE the ball!

Conversation is great but in the end, where is the conversation going? Sticking to a theme is typical of what one expects of this medium, you don't want to drone on for too long but don't be afraid to go off message if the talk is engaging or entertaining. Part of this should be fun but for goodness sake don't read a script and keep in mind, the attention span of your listener is SHORT. Play to that concept. The worst thing you can do is have a podcast where it sounds like you're reading prepared script.

The We Are Media wiki has some good talking points and simple directions for getting started.

Software tools to create, edit and publish are plentiful. Audacity is an awesome free tool for the capturing and editing process and we all know how iTunes can distribute, hosting services is key if you want to make the files available and stored for your program. Skype is another service to use if you plan on doing your interview in different locations. And don't worry about Mac vs PC, there is a solution for everybody.

Do you need to spend a small fortune on equipment? NO I'll say that again: NO. Using Amazon you can find M-Audio options along with some very inexpensive microphones to start your audio integration kit and for under $300 I was able to set up a two mic stand system and mixer that connected via USB either for the Mac or Windows platform. Piece of cake. If you want even simpler, just pickup a $40 headset with a mic and earphone jack - now we're talking on the cheap!

So here it is: the tips, suggestions, strategy of the workshop. Hope you have fun and stay tuned, I'm looking forward to saying: "Do you believe in miracles?" or was that Al - I should try something original . . .

Notes from Audio Podcasting at the NTC 2010

Schedule - how often should you do a podcast? bi-weekly may have higher hit rate then weekly, gives them time to catch up

Setting up the software to bit rate of 128 is fine - LAME is the plugin for Audacity that creates the standard MP3 file format. mp3 encoder is necessary for Audacity - search for the right platform of LAME on audacity web site

In the settings of Audacity you can adjust the dynamic range if your recording sounds too tiny - ratio 6:1 threshold -22 db - will change how people sound, play with the settings

Plan on an hour for every 10 min for editing

Do you want to add music to your Podcast? Lots of music requires royalty fees but if you want "safe / free music" -

Recording in Mono allows for smaller file sizes

Using Effects in Audacity - can slow down a fast talker, Noise removal can also be useful if where you are recording has background noise that is distracting but be careful using this as you need a noice sample first,

Fade in and out is your friend

Save your file and save often, Audacity has bad habit of crashing - keep in mind, it's free and you get what you pay for!

Using Export as MP3 starts a dialog box, this where you put in a title for tagging purposes, metadata is stored at this level - descriptions feeds into the iTunes library

Once the file is opened in iTunes - right click and select Get Info
144 x 144 are safe deminsions for artwork logo

Keep in mind, iTunes points to files, they don't host it, you still need a hosting service. Libsyn for $5 a month great source for holding the files. They will also produce the RSS feeds automatically. RSS drives every podcast and used for subcription -

If you go for your own hosting this is where a little know how comes into play as tweaking the XML file is what will drive subscriptions and notify your followers of new additions to your podcast library.

Measuring the success of your listeners will be important for showing that all important metrics or ROI. Using Feedburner to get Metrics or Google reader is another option, you won't get metrics with just iTunes

Another hosting service is a free hosting service

Know the audiance - ask questions based on knowledge, do homework - don't be afraid to let control go - moderate, sometimes you can prep your guests and ask questions ahead of time, as a moderator keep the flow going

Have permission that you are going to post / publish before the interview - remind those on the show you will be recording the session and make sure you capture that in your original raw MP3 file. Your finished product should always have a different name then the raw file you capture during your "conversation".

Have FUN - relax, it's not brain surgery - it's Podcasting.

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yes #10NTC, I do blog, is there a support group for that?

The official opening day of the 10th Nonprofit Technical Conference coordinated by NTEN was an amazing experience.  The connections you make, the friends you reconnect with, extending the friendships from digital to personal all makes for a rousing experience.  Sharing, StoryTelling, Learning and Teaching - it all happens in small places and under one roof and I am so greatful to be part of this group - NTEN is like family.
Ok -  Now let me tell you my impression of the sessions of the official Day 1. 
First session I attended I was actualy part of a panel that focused on pure tech, these were my peeps.  Organizations struggling with mobile device proliferation, security of data, policy enforcement, culture adoption and how to manage the gadget overload.  My bud Peter who leads the tech for Earth Justice in San Fran spearheaded the team who put the T back in Technical and my hats off to him.  He's an innovator and has an awesome network which I am proud to be part of.  In this session I was glad to see I wasn't alone in my struggles and feel better now that I can bring back some of the inspiring and shared solutions.
The other speakers I was able to see was the opening session from Andrew Sullivan.  Andrew had a story to tell, the buzz though from my tech peeps was they didn't learn anything new.  And in fact Andrew focused soley on his rise from author to blogger.
What I found so gratifying from Andrew was he reaffirmed why we in the industry connect and build our tribes.  We learn from each other, we share with each other, we make change happen with each other.  Yes, it wasn't the next new widget but he was still an well gifted speaker and I grabbed some great quotes from him AND he managed to quote Cartman from South Park - instant points in my book.
The next speaker session was the dynamid duo Beth Kantler and Allison Fine - seeing these two social networking diva's together was like an old Abbott and Costello act - they played off each other to a standing room only audience and talked about what their new book "the Networked Nonprofit" was about and how it got to print

Again, not necessarily teaching the eager crowd anything new but reaffirned what and how to engage.  Using social media to drive change was the clear message and I managed to actually put a face to Allison and Beth who before that I only knew online - and I snagged an autograph plus NWF's diva @starfocus got a nice shout out as an example of who's doing it right.
My main take away was simple - as all my tech peers and I have had to do these past few years, we make do with what we have - we harness the tools we got and make the most of them to help our front line do their thing.  We are in a place right now where the "tackle box" is overflowing with bait, lures, hooks - none of us should be woried about where we fish, but OMGeeeeee get out there and fish!
If you're not following my tweets - and why aren't you?  here are a few highlights from Andrew Sullivan.  One more day and looking forward to some rack time back home.  Till then . . . Peace out!
  • The human experience can & does happen live and all the time even via blogs. the emotions can change you Andrew Sullivan
  • Manning up, owning up to posting a mistake which happens over 10 yrs of blogs is a morale building moment Andrew Sullivan
  • People are more grown up then you think - not every post has to be on message. Far more rewards being personal Andrew Sullivan #10NTC
  • Andrew Sullivan quietly quoted Eric Cartman of South Park - I caught it, who else did? #10NTC.AS #10NTC
  • Moving from writer w/ distance w/ followers to having a conversation meant letting go barriers, welcome the challenge Andrew Sullivan #10NTC
  • The human experience can & does happen live and all the time even via blogs. the emotions can change you Andrew Sullivan #10NTC.AS #10NTC

Posted via email from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's Day 2 of 10NTC in PollenLanta - can't call it HOT

Arrived in Atlanta for the 10th NTEN sponsored Nonprofit Technology Conference 2010 yesterday where the Delta airline pilot indicated the haze we saw in the sky was all Pollen, yes, green pollen, it was nasty but soon forgotten as we made our way to the conference session at CNN Omni.
Nice diggs, although the $6 bottle of water seemed pricy and who puts a scale in the bathroom anymore?  Really, you want me to weigh myself?  I think not, save your scale money, lower the water costs.
Moving on the first order of biz was to pop over to the NWF Atlanta office - riding the MARTA we had an awesome afternoon meeting with the staff and checking out their work space.  10th floor view of a very nice section of the town, minus the pollen fog of course.  Sharing how the tech program at NWF was playing out first hand went over very well.  There is something for making that personal touch, the face to face that I think goes a long way.  Even did a little troubleshooting and expedited some help desk issues.  So yes, NWF Atlanta visit - huge success.
Now it's early morning Day 2 - I'm off to crash a Podcasting workshop my good friend Chad Norman from Blackbaud is hosting.   The morning workshops were special ordered for members which I somehow missed but Chad was most accommodating as always.  Hope to soak it all in and learn, share and learn - it's what makes #10NTC such a success.
More to come . . .

Posted via email from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Monday, April 05, 2010

National Wildlife Photo Contest 2009 Winners

and the NWF photo contest winners are . . . .

Being part of the staff I know the painstaking time my fellow work-mates go through selecting the pics. Enjoy, some awesome pics.

The contest link can be found at

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .