66 posts categorized "Podcasting"

My New Podcast: "FIR On Technology" Episode 1 About Google+ Hangouts On Air

Firontechnology 300What are Google+ “Hangouts On Air” (HOA) all about and how can communicators best use them? How does a “Hangout On Air” differ from a “Hangout”? What kind of technology do you need to know to use them? What are some tips and tricks for working most effectively with a Google+ HOA? What is the linkage to YouTube? How do you get started?

Those were all questions I addressed with my guest Randy Resnick in the first episode of a brand new podcast I'm down doing called "FIR On Technology with Dan York". You can listen on the episode page (where there are also links to HOA resources) or here:

The interview was fun to do and from comments in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+ has already been a help to multiple listeners.

As I noted in the introduction post on the For Immediate Release (FIR) website, the goal of the overall "FIR On Technology" podcast is to answer questions such as these:

How can communicators best use new tools such as, say, Google+ Hangouts On Air to tell their stories in new ways or to reach new audiences? Are there tips and tricks they should be aware of? What is new in the latest release of WordPress? Why should someone in PR and marketing care about something like IPv6 or HTML5?

For close to 9 years now I've been contributing weekly reports into the regular For Immediate Release (FIR)podcast hosted by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. Now, with the creation of the "FIR Podcast Network" and the launch of new shows, it was logical to launch a technology-focused podcast where I could do a deeper dive than just the 5 minutes in the regular FIR episodes.

Please do note - my regular weekly FIR reports WILL continue!

Nothing changes there... it's just that these "FIR On Technology" episodes will allow for more time to get into specific topics at a higher level of detail.  I'd love to hear your feedback about this episode or the overall idea either as comments to this blog post or via social media or email: 

In particular, if there are any topics you'd really like to see me address on future episodes... or if you want to pitch me on why it might be interesting to interview you or a client, I'm open to that as well.

The "FIR On Technology with Dan York" podcast will NOT be a "regular" podcast in that it will not be on a specific interval, i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. It is instead "a periodic podcast" meaning that the episodes will come out whenever I have time to record and produce them. I'm aiming for at least monthly, but there may be more at different times.

If you'd like to follow along, you can:

A subscription option via iTunes will be available soon.

I'm greatly appreciative of the FIR podcast community who has been very supportive of me doing this podcast - and of course I'm deeply grateful to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson for their support and continuing to involve me in the growing world of "FIR".

Please do join in and follow along... there is a LOT of technology and tools out there to talk about with communicators!

P.S. The music I am using (with his permission) for the intro and outro comes from my friend Mark Knox in Ottawa, whose music can be found on his SoundCloud account.

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Apple Celebrates 1 Billion Podcast Subscriptions Via iTunes!

By way of a Facebook update from Donna Papacosta, I learned that Apple announced that there have been over 1 billion podcast subscriptions through iTunes. Yes, one billion subscriptions! And indeed opening up iTunes, going to the iTunes Store and clicking on "Podcasts" gets you this banner:

Itunes 1 billion podcasts banner 2

Clicking on the banner gets you to a page in iTunes celebrating this milestone and highlighting some of the popular podcasts:

Itunes 1 billion podcasts

Now, granted, this doesn't say how many of those subscriptions are actually listened to - I know that I have subscribed to a number of shows that I just don't get a chance to play. Nor does it say whether this is a historical or current number, i.e. are there 1 billion podcast subscriptions right now or is this going back to when it all started in 2005? (In other words, does it count subscriptions which were then later ended?)

Regardless, it's a huge number and definitely something to celebrate for those of us who enjoy the medium of podcasting and listening to (or contributing to) podcasts!

Many thanks to Donna for passing along the word of this milestone!

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SoundCloud Rolls Out Auto-Sharing To Google+

Soundcloud iosYesterday SoundCloud released a new version 2.6 of their iOS app that for the first time allows sharing to Google+. This is rather intriguing because right now very few applications are able to share directly into Google+. Google has very tightly controlled access to their Google+ APIs to the dismay of many of us who want to more easily share the content we create into our Google+ accounts.

The new SoundCloud app for iOS provides the following new features related to Google+:

  1. The ability to login to SoundCloud with your Google+ credentials. This is only really useful to people who are new to SoundCloud as it simplifies the account creation process by letting you login with your Google+ ID.

  2. The ability to share sounds out to Google+ from within the iOS app.

  3. Automatic sharing of new sounds you create to your Google+ account.

The last one is the most interesting to me and the focus of what I'll write about here. I'll note, too, that according to multiple reports, including an article in TheNextWeb, the ability to login to SoundCloud via Google+ is also available in the Android SoundCloud app, although apparently the sharing is not there. The automatic sharing is centrally configured in SoundCloud's web interface and so may not have a dependence on the mobile app.

Automatic Sharing From SoundCloud To Google+

This is again the most important feature of the update to me. SoundCloud has for quite some time had the ability to automatically share any new sound you upload out to Twitter, Facebook (including Facebook Pages) and Tumblr. This new release adds Google+ to the mix.

You need to login to your SoundCloud account and go to Settings -> Connections. Once there you will see a new Google+ button: Sc connections

Selecting the button allows you to go through the standard Google+ process to authorize this application to connect to your Google+ account. Once you do that, you will see a new connection at the bottom of your list of connections: Sc googleplus

Somewhat bizarrely it doesn't use a Google+ icon but rather something that reminds me more of MySpace.

Similarly, over in the iOS app, after you save a recording and are getting ready to post the sound to SoundCloud, the "Sharing Options" now have a Google+ option at the top - but without any icon: Ios app sc 1 In theory, this should all allow the auto-publishing of links to new sounds out to your Google+.

Sounds Great... But Didn't Work :-(

So, after configuring all of this, I recorded a new episode 5 of my The Dan York Report on this topic... and it did NOT auto-post to Google+. When I was in Google+ there was a yellow message that appeared several times at the top of my screen that said something like:

"Oops... there was a problem posting "TYDR #005 ..." Retrying.

Unfortunately it appeared and disappeared too quickly to get a screenshot.

Manually Sharing From SoundCloud Web or iOS App

The good news is that the SoundCloud web also provides a mechanism to manually share a sound out to Google+. If you click on the Share icon on the page for a sound, you can select the Google+ tab: Soundcloud sharing and then write a message about the sound and choose who to share it with: Share on googleplus

Similarly, you can now do this sharing from within the iOS app itself: Ios app sharing

I'm showing these windows for sharing the sound I created, but this could be for ANY sound that you listen to within the SoundCloud app or web interface.

So What About That Auto-Sharing?

Why didn't my first episode after configuring Google+ integration auto-publish out to Google+? I don't know. I'm going to assume this was perhaps a "teething pain" as the folks at SoundCloud get this integration working.

Regardless, it's good to see this integration with Google+ happening (assuming it starts working) and more apps being able to connect into Google+.

An audio commentary about part of this announcement can be found at:

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FIR Podcast Hits Episode #700 - Publishes Special Interview With Shel and Neville

As most readers probably know by now, I'm been a weekly contributor to the "For Immediate Release (FIR)" podcast since back in 2005, and all those years later I continue to find the FIR episodes extremely useful ways to stay up on what is going on with social media, marketing, PR, podcasting and the intersection of all of those topics along with technology and business.

Last week Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the FIR co-hosts, passed the tremendous milestone of FIR episode #700. It's a pretty remarkable achievement to publish 700 instances of anything... but of a 60-90 minute podcast, week after week after week, is pretty amazing.

Shel and Neville tried to keep the actual FIR episode #700 to be fairly "regular" in terms of content, but at a suggestion from the FIR Google+ Community, they did allow themselves to be interviewed by Donna Papacosta about the show. Both the show and the interview are well worth listening to, in my opinion.

Congratulations, Shel and Neville, on publishing 700 episodes of FIR! Now I'm looking forward to the next 700 episodes...

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Finding My "Barriers To Blogging" Apply To Audio Podcasting As Well

In thinking about how I might do more audio podcasting, I found myself hitting many of the same barriers I wrote about with regard to blogging... so I made this recording:


What Is The Future Of The Levelator? (The Podcaster's Ultimate Quick-Fix Audio Tool)

LevalatorWhat does the future hold for the awesome "Levelator®" tool, now that The Conversations Network is shutting down all of its websites at the end of 2012?

That's certainly the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the word that Doug Kaye was declaring "Mission Accomplished" and shutting down the TCN websites and moving their content to other locations.

The "Levelator," in case you aren't aware, is a truly awesome piece of software for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux that can take an interview recorded with varying audio levels and turn it into something great for listening. As the bottom of the Levelator page says:

Do you believe in magic? You will after using The Levelator® to enhance your podcast. And you'll be amazed that it's free, now even for commercial use.

So what is The Levelator®? It's software that runs on Windows, OS X (universal binary), or Linux (Ubuntu) that adjusts the audio levels within your podcast or other audio file for variations from one speaker to the next, for example. It's not a compressor, normalizer or limiter although it contains all three. It's much more than those tools, and it's much simpler to use. The UI is dirt-simple: Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler's application window, and a few moments later you'll find a new version which just sounds better.

For those wanting the gory details, the site contains a detailed description of the "Levelator Loudness Algorithms" that explains how it does its magic. The FAQ, also, includes some helpful information.

Normally, when I'm recording podcasts in my home office with my podcasting rig, I'm able to control all the audio levels, even if I'm interviewing someone over Skype. So in those cases I don't need the power of the Levelator.

But... if I'm recording an interview with multiple people over Skype, I only have one feed for Skype into my mixer and so I can't control the varying audio levels for the different speakers.

Similarly, if I am recording a panel session typically speakers are sitting at different distances from their microphones and they naturally have different levels of their voices.

In either of those cases, the Levelator has been a HUGE help in making my recordings sound that much better.

It's also insanely easy to use - just drag a file onto the interface and drop it. That's it.

Now it's now always on target. A time or two I've actually liked the original better, but that's often because I've got noisy backgrounds or other issues. But probably 95% of the time it does a truly wonderful job making the audio sound better.

So what is its future?

I don't know.

Doug Kaye's post about the future of TCN says only that they intend to continue to make the existing content available. It's not clear from reading that what will happen to the Levelator. Will it be updated? Will someone continue to maintain the software? Will it be open-sourced so that the community could maintain it? Or will it just fade away?

The @levelator Twitter account did provide some hope in an October 3 tweet saying plans are still being discussed:

Levelator future

I do hope Doug and his team are able to find a way to keep the Levelator around. It truly is an awesome tool and it is and was a tremendously generous gift to the Internet community to make it available for free.

I look forward to learning its future... and meanwhile, I've made sure I've downloaded the most recent version so that I'll have my own copy around for a while.

Have you used the Levelator before? Has it helped you? What would you like to see the TCN team do with the Levelator?

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Using iRecorder on the iPhone For Quick Podcasts - With WiFi Transfer

Ever needed to record a quick audio recording on your iPhone and then rapidly transfer it to a computer? There are many recording applications out there for the iPhone, but one I've found helpful is the aptly named "iRecorder".

On Friday I read an email from Shel Holtz that he and Neville had to record this coming week's FIR episode on Sunday morning and they needed our reports by then.

Knowing that today was going to be crazy and also knowing I had a number of tasks to do yesterday that kept me away from my office where my podcast rig is located, I whipped out my iPhone and used iRecorder to record my report. The interface itself is super-simple to use - just one button to push to start recording.


The reason why I like iRecorder, though, is that it has an extremely simple WiFi interface for transferring the recording. I just tap the down-arrow icon in the upper left corner and... ta da... it gives me a URL to hit in my browser:

Irecorder wifi

A quick trip to that URL in my browser shows me all the audio files I can download:

IRecorder browser

A click on the link and the audio file is down on my computer. Now all I did was bring the audio into Audacity, do a minor bit of trimming and then export it to MP3 to send to Shel and Neville.

Simple. Easy. Fast.

Now, I don't feel the audio quality is as good as what I get on my podcasting rig, but that's understandable... this was an iPhone being used as a field recorder. It was a bit too "hot" for me with some clipping going on. But it enabled me to get a report quickly together and submitted when I didn't expect to have time to do so.

It's a cool little tool... and you can find it in the iPhone AppStore.

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Experimenting With SoundCloud For Audio Podcasting

SoundcloudAs I've mentioned on my last several reports into the For Immediate Release podcast, I've been experimenting over the past few weeks with SoundCloud as a platform for posting and sharing audio recordings.  If you are a SoundCloud user, you are welcome to follow along with my experiments at:


So far I have been mostly posting my weekly FIR reports and a few other samples... but over the next bit I'm intending to post some more audio recordings as I try out a number of different applications.

I was toying with using SoundCloud for a bit... and then was inspired by what C.C. Chapman did with the platform for his audio reports from his recent trip to Ghana.

I've been looking for a bit for a place to just post random audio commentary that didn't fit into FIR or other sites. We'll see what precisely I do with it over the weeks and months ahead.

If you'd like to try it yourself, signing up for an account is free - there is just a limit on how much audio you can post with the free account.

And as to how SoundCloud is different from Audioboo or the many other similar services, I would direct you to my latest report into FIR #651 where I covered this precise question!

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The Hardest Part of Podcasting Is...

... probably not what you think it is.

It's not the technology... as that is in so many cases the easiest aspect. Download a tool like Audacity to your computer and start talking into your built-in mic. Boom. You're done. Or point your phone's video camera at someone and press the record button. We've got a zillion different devices that will record audio or video.

It's not the post-production... although that can take some time depending upon the level of "professionalism" you want to give to your podcasts. Some people are fine with just posting raw "(wo)man-on-the-street" interviews up with little or no post-production. Some people want to do some editing, add intros and outros, etc.

It's not the on-air voice (the "talent")... as there are many podcasts out there that demonstrate that you don't need to have the proverbial "radio voice" to still have a show that builds a community of listeners. Of course, having (or developing) a good voice does help, but it's not the hardest part.

It's not the marketing of your podcast... the world of social media has made it so much easier to get the word out. Good shows will spread virally and people will learn about what you are doing. MANY tools out there to help spread the word.

It's not the story or the outline of what you will talk about... although admittedly this CAN be one of the harder aspects - to craft the outline of what you are going to do over a period of time, to think about the audiences, to figure out what story you are going to tell.

No, the absolute hardest part of podcasting is none of those, although all of them can be challenging in different ways.

Instead the hardest part of podcasting is...

... keeping the podcast going!

It's easy to start a podcast... it's far harder to maintain a podcast.

To keep doing it... week after week after week after week after week after...

For every podcast like For Immediate Release that has been diligently going on week after week for over five years now (just passed episode #621) or the VoIP Users Conference that has been going on for 4+ years, there are a hundred other podcasts where the hosts had brilliant ideas, the best of intentions... yet didn't keep the podcast going.

The Internet is littered with the remains of thousands of podcasts that started... (and yes, the same could be said of blogs).

One of my own is amidst those remains... from 2005 to 2008 I produced and co-hosted Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast. It was great to do and we built up quite a strong community of listeners. But then jobs changed... life changed... new kids came into the world... and so we ended the show's run. I keep thinking about bringing it back... but I'm conscious of this "hardest part" of podcasting. If I do bring it back, I have to be ready to commit to bringing it back on a regular basis.

THAT is the hardest part of "podcasting".

Keeping the podcast going.

IF, of course, you are trying to create a "show" that is ongoing. If you are just putting up some audio interviews... well, those might just be "downloadable audio files" and not really a "podcast", per se. Or they might be a "podcast" that has a predetermined lifespan... such as for an event or conference. There are many such podcasts around an event or date - or for a set series of topics - and they are great for what they are: a "body of work" with a defined beginning and end.

But if you are trying to create an ongoing show that attracts a community of listeners... then this "hardest part" comes into play. When I've been consulting with clients about starting up a podcast, I stress this fact again: it's easy to start a podcast, but far harder to keep it going.

Are you ready to commit to the long-term run of the show?

To do it week after week after week after week?

THAT is the hardest part of podcasting.

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Final Day of the 2011 FIR Listener Survey - Help Us Guide The Show!

Do you listen to the For Immediate Release Podcast? If so, do you have a few minutes to take the FIR listener survey if you haven't already done so?

The survey is a very important tool to help Shel and Neville (and by extension, we who are correspondents) shape the future of the FIR podcast. The feedback IS highly valued and much appreciated.


So please, if you have a few minutes, help us out and complete the survey!

P.S. And if you are not an FIR listener but are interested in social media, why not give it a try now? Each week there is an hour-long show plus sometimes other interviews and book reviews. I'm always learning something new from all the great content!