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Podcasting Puts You in Charge of the Show March 26, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcasting.

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Written Friday, March 25, 2005


Now that blogging (you know, basically putting your diary or rants/observations online) is, like, old, the rush is on to embrace the newest method of transmitting stuff into the world — podcasting.

Early adapters may roll their eyes at this (so terribly 2004), but the fact that Tara Reid hasn’t started her own podcast (or, dear Lord, has she?) may mean that trendwise, the wave has yet to crest.

So what the heck is podcasting? It sounds like it has something to do with aliens and fishing, but basically, it allows people to subscribe to audio programs, professional and otherwise. That is, instead of going online and listening to a show or a broadcast on your computer, you can program your computer, by using the right software, to regularly update and download certain programs. It’slike TiVo for your MP3 player.

What most people actually do is podcatching — they’re on the consumer end of the podcast, capturing the goods and storing them on their hard drives and MP3 players.

Once your computer has downloaded your preselected program, it’ll automatically move the files in with your other MP3s. So, say you’re using iTunes — your aggregator software (the stuff that reads RSS — “Real Simple Syndication” feeds, which identify new material online) will move your chosen programs or files into iTunes, where they’ll wait until you sync up your iPod.

“My sense is that it will be around for quite some time, much in the same way that RSS has been around since 1998 and has exploded with the rise and preeminence of blogs,” says Jack Beslanwitch, founder of Seattle HTML SIG, a group dedicated to keeping track of innovations in Web content. A freelance Web designer, Beslanwitch says the combined use of RSS, TiVo and hand-held MP3 players is “a no-brainer” — it was bound to happened sooner or later.

What kind of stuff is out there and what can you create? An oral blog — it’s your life, in sound files, baby. You can put together a radio program — ever wished they played more Mark Sandman on the radio, less Nelly Furtado? On RadioYou, they do.

Brian Ibbott podcasts his show (www.coverville.com) thrice weekly from his home in Arvada, Colo. As a kid, Ibbott, 35, dreamed of becoming a radio DJ, but thought he didn’t have the voice for it.

“The DJs always sounded like they were having such a good time,” says the software company operations specialist. Before podcasting, the closest he came to realizing his dream was a brief stint as a wedding DJ back in ’92.

“It was so anti-everything that I liked, like playing everything that I want, not having a repetitive list,” says Ibbott. When he heard a podcast show in August, he was hooked. “I thought, you know, I can do this, I can make a show about the stuff I wanted to listen to.”According to Podcastalley.com, his is the third most popular podcast out there (and No. 1 in the music category). The guy who thought he’d never make it in radio is pulling in 10,000 to 14,000 listeners a show. Not bad at all.

“It’s a blast … it’s a great outlet for me,” says Ibbott. Not that he’s letting it stop at that. Ibbott has a fairly unique licensing agreement with the American Society of Composers and BMI records. He got a webcasting license, which generally is used by Web-streaming stations. He also got them to add podcasting to their Web-streaming license.

Ibbott is working on a licensing deal with the Recording Industry Association of America (the entity suing all those illegal music file sharers) because he hopes to bring in additional advertising and sponsorships. Although he’s not making money from his podcasts at this point and he’s not trading or sharing individual songs, he doesn’t want lawsuits to jeopardize a potential money maker.

So if Ibbott’s show is for you, and you wished you could bundle him up and put him in your pocket for a rainy day, you can. With podcasting software, Ibbott voluntarily jumps into your MP3 player. Of course, podcasting isn’t limited to music. For example, if you’re a huge “Battlestar Galactica” geek, er, fan, you can download commentary by the show’s producer and listen to it while you’re watching the program on the Sci-Fi Channel. No, don’t tell anyone else you do this.

Of course, you could have gone to the National Public Radio Web site and listened to programs there, as we’ve been able to do for years. Same goes for catching other radio programs put out by individuals, or listening to live programs on your PC. The technology to manually download this stuff onto MP3 players has been around for a while, and many bloggers have been audioblogging for some time. From the consumers’ point of view, having this program updated automatically technically is known as Next Level Stuff.

Caveat: Podcasting ain’t for everyone. You may find yourself drowning in the sea of voices out there. You can’t hear everything that’s popped online, no more than you can read every newspaper. Like anything else online, Beslanwitch said the “ego factor” is at play. In other words, even people with nothing to say probably will try their hands at podcasting.

However things shake out, Beslanwitch says the trend probably will be with us for some time.

“It will likely morph to take advantage of other technologies (like video) that are added to the iPod and other players,” he says, “but only time will tell.”

P-I reporter D. Parvaz can be reached at 206-448-8095 or dparvaz@seattlepi.com.



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