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Tricks of the Podcasting Masters 95

aceydacey writes "Tricks of the Podcasting Masters is a good read if you want to find out the who, what, when, why and where of the podcasting phenomenon. It is not a technical re-hash of the hardware and software tools of podcasting, but rather a discussion of the creative side of podcasting, its history, personalities, techniques, tricks and motivations. It is a good read for anyone interested in creating and promoting a podcast, and also for anyone who is interested in the inside scoop on what makes podcasters do what they do." Read on for the rest of Ron's review.
Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
author Rob Walch and Mur Lafferty
pages 362
publisher Que
rating 8
reviewer Ron Stephens
ISBN 0-7897-3574-1
summary An inside look at the world of podcasting.

The authors are both well known pioneers of the podcasting genre. Rob Walch is the host of the popular Podcast411 show, and during the year a half this show has run, he has interviewed over 150 podcasters, including Adam Curry and almost every other luminary in and around podcasting. Mur Lafferty is the host of the Geek Fu Action Grip podcast, famous in Science Fiction circles, and the I Should be Writing Podcast, for aspiring authors.

The book excels in offering detailed advice to podcasters on how to improve and market their shows. Many of the big names in podcasting are quoted at length giving their advice, and the authors give candid, sober counsel that is not sugar coated with what the aspiring podcaster wants to hear. The theme is that doing a great podcast is hard work, and if one is willing to invest the time and effort, the book has plenty of helpful hints. This advice is of a practical nature including time management, how to stay motivated, and how to talk in front of a microphone and not sound like a robot. Podcasters will appreciate the pragmatic advice on how to script and edit a show, and how to relate to an audience effectively.

There is a lot of material on how to market and promote a podcast, and some of this advice is surprising, including innovative ideas on how to reach out beyond the podcasting community to the wider society, local media and unrelated internet activities. For some podcasters, this will be the most valuable part of the book.

The authors have both succeeded in turning their podcasting into at least part time careers, but their advice on monetizing podcasts is among the most sober and straight shooting I have ever seen or heard. They very carefully share all the revenue generating methods and ideas they have come across, and how to best exploit them; but they nevertheless give the grim statistics about how few podcasts will ever actually turn a profit, much less allow a podcaster to quit his or her day job.

There is a large section of the book devoted to detailing sixteen different genres of podcasting, such as audioblogs, comedy casts, educational, gaming, religious and spiritual, interview casts, music, news, politics, radio dramas, Q-Podders (alternative lifestyles), science fiction, sex, tech, sports and the written word. Four to six podcasts of each genre are highlighted including quotes from the shows' hosts. There is also coverage of the legal and ethical issues involved in podcasting , such as music licensing and laws concerning wire tapping that might come into play when conducting interviews by phone.

Utilizing the authors actual experience as consultants, the book is also a good resource for corporate podcasters who are using podcasting to market, promote or enhance existing businesses or information media. This is material not found in any other podcasting book I have read.

Much of the allure of the book is in the feeling of being on the inside, seeing what it is really like to be a pioneer in a hot new internet phenomenon. As such, this book will not age as quickly as other podcasting books that focus mostly on how to pick and use specific software and hardware podcasting tools. On the other hand, if you need detailed help on using such tools, this book is not the one for you.

On balance, I really enjoyed this book. If you have an interest in podcasting, either as a listener or a podcaster, you probably will enjoy it also. If you are not already interested in podcasting, this book might or might not stimulate you to look into it further, but at least you will find out what all the fuss is about.

As an exercise in full disclosure, I should confess to hosting two podcast series of my own, the AwareTek philosophical podcast, and the Python411 podcast about the Python programming language."

You can purchase Tricks of the Podcasting Masters from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Tricks of the Podcasting Masters

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  • Full disclosure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Grackle ( 570961 )
    "as an exercise in full disclosure" you should disclose that your disclosure is actually a poorly disclosed plug for your two podcasts ... :-D Nice book review, though.
  • Oblig. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @03:48PM (#15519063) Journal
    1. Read lots of 'blogging' references.
    2. Find & replace 'blog' with 'podcast'.
    3. Find a publisher.
    4. Profit

    Yes, I understand that there are differences between blogging and podcasting -- but not that many in the long run. One could easily recycle so much 'blogging' material for 'podcasting' that I frankly see little need to discuss podcasting.

    And pardon the apostrophes for 'blog' and 'podcast' -- it's just that I hate both terms and resist allowing them into my personal dictionary. Now get off my lawn.
    • One word: pogcasting.
      • Re:Oblig. (Score:3, Funny)

        by spezz ( 150943 )
        One word: pogcasting.
        You think? Pogs [] went out with OK Soda and that Soul Asylum album everybody had. I don't think anybody really wants to listen to a radio show about pogs. But hell, I've been wrong before.
    • This post was obviously written by someone who hasn't spent a lot of time parusing podcasts. Although there is a great profusion of podcasts which are analogous to blogging, the majority of the types of podcasts out there are much more diverse. Some of them compare better to your typical radio music program, published over the internet. Some are more like articles for New Scientist, or take their direction from shows like Cosmos. Others are purely informational, like the ones that provide the morning ne
    • And pardon the apostrophes for 'blog' and 'podcast' -- it's just that I hate both terms and resist allowing them into my personal dictionary. Now get off my lawn.

      Personally, I love the terms. I think it's a sign that the outrageous cyberpunk literature of the early 1980's wasn't so outrageous after all. I mean if you think about it, the Internet, particularly the Web, really is allowing people to talk to more people than they could without this technology. Words like 'blog', 'podcast' just go to show th
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <> on Monday June 12, 2006 @04:00PM (#15519145) Homepage
    Most of the folks I know just download the MP3s in one shot, put them on a player and listen to them on the commute. The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs [] was good for a couple of weeks... and there's the excellent JavaPosse [] for keeping up with the latest Java news.

    But anyhow, I never "stream" these recordings; I just download them for offline listening.
    • You seem to be unclear on what podcasting is.

      No streaming occurs.

      If you've subscribed to a show with an application that supports RSS enclosures, the files are downloaded automatically. Not streamed. Downloaded to your hard drive, in full.

      The folks you talk about are pretty much doing the same thing, only they're missing out on having it delivered to them. It involves a bit more work for them; they have to go find the actual mp3 files and download them. Podcasting lets you not have to worry about checking f
  • Tricks of the Livejournal Cutters, and it was very eye opening.
  • Geez, I wish I had known that when I first started out almost a year ago. Look let's boil it down to it's simplest. Grab a mic, grab audacity and grab a blog that has enclosure tags enabled in its RSS feeds. There ya go you're podcasting.

    For the rest of it, it comes down to common sense. Do some research, make sure your sound levels are okay, and whatever you do, don't expect to make any sort of money from it(though if you do thats a bonus).

    What I Do []
  • by Colgate2003 ( 735182 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @04:39PM (#15519433) Homepage
    I'm a podcaster, both personally [] and professionally [].

    At the recent Podcast Academy at Boston University, one of the big messages that I heard over and over was this: You won't be able to quit your day job and podcast full time. What you may be able to do though, is quit your day job and tell others how to podcast.

    For better or worse, there are many individuals, organizations, companies, and even governments getting involved in podcasting. Many of them feel that they need consultants to guide them along the way. If you can put a moderately popular show together, the money may come from helping others to do the same.

  • by Se7enLC ( 714730 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @04:55PM (#15519562) Homepage Journal
    What is Podcasting?

    It's like a factory that produces apple pies for whales, that's the simplest way I can describe it.

    Ask a Ninja []
  • I consider myself a successful podcaster. I started a show, put it up on the web, and now I average about a thousand downloads a week with listeners in 20+ countries. My trick? I did what I wanted to do and said - screw it when it came to everyone else. I don't listen to other people's podcasts. I don't check out the competition. I submitted myself to all the podcasting search engines. Save all your money on dumb books like this and follow these steps: 1/ make a website & email address so people
  • by Ursus Maximus ( 540370 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @05:08PM (#15519666) Homepage
    Podcasts allow good audio material on very specific subjects to reach its audience, even when the prospective audience is very small, and not in one geographic area. If the number of people in the world that is interested in your specialty or passion is only 1000, then a for-pay radio station, magazine or book is not economically feasible.

    Podcasts are basically Radio Shows on the Internet (Like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh or Dr. Ruth), but what makes them special is how the Shows are delivered to the user.

    Podcasts are like Magazine Subscriptions. With a magazine subscription you register for a magazine (podcast) and then every so often the publisher (podcaster) will send one to your house (Granted with podcasts the aggregator goes out and fetches it. Now after the Magazine is delivered, it sits in your Mailbox (aggregator) until someone removes the Mail and puts it on the Kitchen Table (iTunes). You then decide when you want to read that magazine (Daily Source Code) or some other magazine or you can just throw it away because it no longer interests you. You can also cancel any subscription at any time.

    Now there are a couple of key differences between Podcasts and Magazines.

    With Podcasts, you only receive those you have subscribed to. There are no unwanted L.L. Bean or Victoria (XXX) Secrets Magazines cluttering up your mailbox. Actually that is one of the great points of Podcasting (so Far) it is Spam Free - oops I mean Junk Mail free. And Talking about Free - Podcasts are Free - Yup they don't cost a dime or even any Frequent Flyer Miles.

    Many people find particular podcasts very valuable. Podcasts empower individuals to reach a global audience, no matter how specialized or small.

    Podcasts give complete control to the audience, the individual listener, who can choose exactly which content to listen to, with no spam or irrelevant material included.

    Millions of people enjoy podcasts, especially the time-shifting aspects of podcasting. One can listen while driving, jogging, exercising or whenever.

    Sure, audio streaming on the net is old news. Before blogs, written journals on the web existed. Before the printing press, books existed. It's a matter of scale and an issue of technology empowering millions of people to do what only a few did before.

    Ursus Maximus
    • Ok, now, it seems that you know a little bit about this 'podcasting'. So, please enlighten me - What exactly justifies "podcasting" material instead of writing an article about it? Firstly, I dont have to decode your crappy teenie voice when I read your vaguely interesting material. Second, I can understand you clearly despite what ever country you come from. And believe me, I've tried this 'podcasting' phenomena. I've tried listening to some 'podcasts' about all kinds of stuff. I could never understand hal
      • There is a lot of difference between the spoken word and the printed word. Each has its good points, but they are different. I never understood this until I began podcasting and listening to podcasts.

        Sometimes it helps to read about a subject, and then hear about it, to go back and forth. Universitiy professors have understood this for hundreds of years.

        Counter-intuitively, it works extremely well for learning programming concepts. Read about the concepts, use the concepts, listen to a lecture abou
  • One key element... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumilux ( 981976 )
    Most podcasts that I've listened to all sound "amateurish" because of one thing that's missing: background music. Yes, it may seem cheesy, and yes, it may be difficult to find properly-licensed material, but soft background music could really improve some of the bland 'casts out there.
  • From end of review:
    As an exercise in full disclosure, I should confess to hosting two podcast series of my own, the AwareTek philosophical podcast, and the Python411 podcast about the Python programming language."

    Full disclosure?! You sir, are going to be a good politician some day. Using a term which still has good connotations due to not being misused enough yet, and spinning your own shameless commercials as doing the readers a favour. Bloody hell!

    Not that I think there's any wrong with plugging yo

    • Hey hyfe, Well, I tired anyway ;-))) Ron [] the technology of beign voice crying the wilderness... i don't feel like a politician...
      • Just to make it clear, as you probably understood (since you didn't swear at me:), my comment was more out of general frustration than than any specific gripe with the review (which was well-written).
        • That's totally cool... I totally appreciate your lack of beligerance towards me despite my self serving tendencies.

          Please pardon my regression into late 50's early 60's jargon..since I wrote that review of Rob Walch's book about the podcasting phenomenon, I have learned that it is a fact that Bob Dylan will release his latest album (first in almost five years---the last was released on September 11, 2001) and, for the first time I can personally recall, he has also released the name of the album in adv
  • I'd like to think that we (GeekNights []) sound fairly professional. It's not difficult or expensive to put together the equipment and have pro-sounding audio: the trick is in having something worthwhile to say and saying it well.

    Well means good pacing, good language, and a conversational tone. You have to get used to hearing your own voice and speaking without immediate feedback from your audience. I don't know how much a book could help with these things.

    Just practice and practice, podcast and podca

    • We've done some 130 hour-long shows
      Would a 130 hour-long podcast even fit on my iPod? I mean, I have the 60GB iPod Photo and all, but...130 hours? Did you stay awake the whole time? If so, how? I bet you could write a book, 'Secrets of the Successful Marathon Podcasting Masters!'

      Man. 130 hours? That'd take me around five and a half days to listen to. And you say you've done more than one? Amazing!


  • I've found that Podcasting is ONLY valuable to time shift or location shift things. I deal with a podcast that delivers the messages of our church to the web. For all I know I may be the only one subscribed. However, it's these kind of circumstances that really bring podcasting out.

    If I was to start a podcast, I would have to think about what kinds of things would I be competant to talk about. Think about a radio show people would listen to. Would they listen to an uninteresting person talking about the fin

APL hackers do it in the quad.