Thursday, 29 September 2005

Help Me Look Back on a Year of the First Crack

In celebration of First Crack’s first birthday, I’m putting together a show looking back. Since I’m way too close to it, I’d like you to tell me what you like and dislike about the podcast, what your favorite episode is and which ones were completely un-listenable. Send over all those hurtful and heartfelt statements you feel when you hear my voice. Think of it as a best-of and worst-of the First Crack Podcast as declared by you.

Email text and mp3 audio comments to:

You can also leave a voicemail by dialing 206-20-BEAN-1.

Yes, I’m asking for it. All the ugliness. Send it over.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

First Graders With Plastic Butter Knives Are New Threat

Somehow the remote got stuck on local Fox News this evening. Leading to a long armchair parenting conversation about the appropriate punishment for an 8 year old unwittingly bringing a butter knife to school.

In western Wisconsin growing up with all sorts of guns, bows, and arrows in the house, I’m comfortable with the responsibility these items bestow upon parents. To me, declaring any knife a weapon is a slippery slope to outlawing pencils sharp enough to practice writing the alphabet with.

But I digress, for this seems to be an emerging issue with elementary school-age terrorists. First in Richmond, VA – sane parent, insane administration. Then in, Youngstown, OH – administration gives kids plastic flatware then punishes kids for reuse. Finally in Omaha, NE – administration realizes zero tolerance might be a bit insane.

Given the recent history of bad things that have happened in middle and high schools, the restriction of funding, and the No Child Left Behind scorched-earth approach to education, public schools have been slapped punch drunk by the neocon administration. I can see where administrations might be acting a tad off.

Unfortunately, the more administration consider the butter knives used benignly an actual problem, the more parents with the means will pull their kids and their money out of public schools thus privatizing America’s future. Well…unless the parents with means also believe in Intelligent Design. Then I’m cool with it.

Apologies to anyone that clicked the Omaha, NE link earlier and got a coupon for instant biscuits. Not sure how that link got in there, either way – it links to the story now. Thanks to DH for brining it to my attention.

Support Your Podcast By Encouraging Listeners to Unsubscribe

It’s Wednesday and I’ve already had 3 conversations this week on advertising in podcasts or somehow monetizing podcasts to support thousands of thousands of podcasts listeners.

If a podcast is so popular that it’s running out of bandwidth on a regular basis, there’s a really good chance the vast majority aren’t listening – even though everyone is downloading. This means that even if the podcast is supported by an underwriter/sponsor/advertiser the sponsorship message won’t be heard. Putting us back to wasting (at least) 50% of our ad dollar.

Downloading and not listening to a podcast is bad for everyone involved. It hurts the podcaster by artificially inflating their listener-base and eating up their monthly bandwidth. It hurts the listener by unnecessarily filling up their hard-drive. Throwing an advertiser into this will only hurt them – and if this statement from the media buying community is any indication – advertisers are no longer interested in throwing away ad dollars (finally):

“It’s not about reaching every consumer, it’s about reaching the right consumers.” – Carat North America CEO David Verklin

If you’re struggling to cover your podcasts bandwidth bills, I recommend 3 options before exploring advertising or switching hosting plans.

  1. Include a “if you’re not listening, please unsubscribe” liberally throughout your website and shownotes.
  2. Pursue your niche so aggressively that some listeners will fall away and unsubscribe naturally.
  3. Offer a BitTorrent version of your podcast.

If you’re not listening, it’s time to start unsubscribing (or at least stop downloading). You’re taking up downloading slots from people that are listening. On my end, I’ve just flipped the switch in NetNewsWire from automatically downloading audio files to not. Then, I reviewed each of the 40+ podcasts I’m subscribed to and checked ‘use custom setting -> automatically download audio files’ for the handful I listen to regularly. In iTunes, you can do the same by selecting ‘do nothing’ in the ‘when new episodes are available’ pulldown menu under podcast settings.

Take a moment now and support your favorite podcaster by unsubscribing.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Reflections on a Year of Podcasting

On October 12th, 2004, I sat down with a Jabra Bluetooth headset, some since forgotten audio recording application, and published the first First Crack Podcast.

How I’m doing the show now is far, far different than I did then – if only that I’m not hand-writing RSS. Despite improvements on my end, iTunes adding a Podcast directory, and going from 0 to nearly 50 unique podcasts, I still believe in podcasting’s underlying promise (here stated by Rex Hammock):

“Podcasting will lead to things we haven’t even thought about today.”

Traditional broadcasters haven’t figured out the magic formula, nor have the podcast pure-plays. This is a really good thing.

What we do know:

  • A human, personal message is more important than the audio quality.
  • Episode length and publication frequency don’t matter, there just needs to be another one.
  • Each additional subscriber adds bandwidth costs
  • Monetizing might happen through underwriting or commercials. Listener-supported models or podcast-as-marketing-for-something-else are more sustainable.
  • Podcasting will continue to radically transform brodcast radio, television, the recording industry, church, politics, and voicemail.
  • Right now, I have 273 un-listened podcasts (more than 6 days worth) in my iTunes. I need more – have you started yours?

I Might Have to Switch to De-Glazed.

I’m a big fan of the leisurely Sunday morning; reading the paper, drinking good coffee, having a Krispie Kreme or two. Over the weekend, my internal clock was off and I picked up the donuts late Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday, I returned to the home office from an afternoon meeting needing a little something.

I grabbed the box of Krispie Kremes and started on the afternoon to-do list.

5 hours later; everything was checked off the to-do list. Inspired, I; cleaned up the junk pile in the corner of the basement, consolidated the multiple boxes of hand tools, and touched base with my parents. On top of that, the rest of the evening was unusually giggly and joke-filled. Everything seemed just slightly happier and more positive.

I couldn’t quite figure out what was different until Jen asked where the last 4 donuts went.

Monday, 26 September 2005

Sunday, 25 September 2005

Treo Replaces iPod for Brush Clearing Listening

Finally had a few moments to clear out the tree damage we had from the late summer thunderstorm I mention eariler.

About halfway through, the battery in my 40gb iPod started flaking out – as it’s so prone to do. With the battery only reliable when it’s plugged in, the usefulness of the iPod is seriously hampered.

Still needing some audio entertainment, I loaded up my Treo 650‘s 1GB SD card with a handful of podcasts and some Brad Sucks and headed back out.

Adding stuff to the SD card was a more manual process and the audio quality isn’t as good as the iPod – but it didn’t die every 5 minutes. Grumble grumble.

Friday, 23 September 2005

Another Political Preference Test

You are a
Social Liberal (91% permissive)
and an…
Economic Liberal(23% permissive)

You are best described as a:
Strong Democrat

This one’s from The Politics Test at Ok Cupid. I’m fairly sure Ok Cupid isn’t a Libertarian organzation. Though I could be mistaken.

Thursday, 22 September 2005

Law Firm Hosts Fashion Show, That’s Like Blogging

Tonight Jen and I attended PKR&G‘s Never Out of Fashion show. Yes, in the interest of full disclosure, our invitation was part of our 6 part PKR&G podcast series at the First Crack.

Howard Rubin kicked off the event asking, “Why does a law firm host a fashion show?”

The same reason you’d blog. Here’s the break down;

  1. Give people a reason to talk about you. (your remarkableness)
  2. Highlight the people and places you know. (their remarkableness)
  3. Connect your community of customers to each other. (our remarkableness)

Does it work?

  1. If I need a lawyer and my uncle can’t help me, you know who I’m calling. Hugh says, “25% of conversations in the blogosphere about ‘South African Wine’ are now about Stormhoek”. I only know of one law firm hip to podcasting and fashion, yeah, they’re in Minneapolis.
  2. I only know of one other law firm in Minneapolis. Why would I choose PKR&G over them? PKR&G reinforced our relationship with this fashion show event. That’s it….for now. For me, blogging is the easiest way to answer the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately question.
  3. If you ask me what the hippest hotel in Minneapolis is, it’s Graves 601. Seriously. It is.

How doesn’t it work?