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Re: podcast

On Apr 2, 2008, at 1:16 PM, John R. Klim II wrote:
> Bruce,
> See http://radio.about.com/od/podcastin1/a/aa030805a.htm for more  
> details on
> Podcasting.

The Wikipedia page also describes it pretty well.

Summary of notes for people new to podcasting:

- The "pod" in "podcast" doesn't mean that only an Apple-brand iPod  
can play it.  Podcasts are typically just MP3 files stored on a  
webserver.  Literally anyone with a web browser and a way to play an  
MP3 file on a PC can listen to "podcasts".  The "magic" comes in the  
next comment.

- In other to get the "cast" part of "podcast" and RSS feed file in  
XML format is also placed on the webserver to "syndicate" the  
distribution of the podcast file.  "Podcatcher" type software can then  
"see" that a new file has been uploaded and download it.  Then these  
programs also often have "sync" software to sync un-heard files into  
some kind of portable player, an iPod, iRiver... whatever you might  

- Most podcasts today also include an "icon" graphics file on the  
server and referenced in the XML that provides a little  
"advertisement" in graphics (AMSAT logo for yours probably?) that the  
player can show when you click on a particular podcast in your player  
of choice.

- And finally a "warning"... make sure you have high bandwidth caps on  
whatever server you use... because of the automated download nature of  
podcasts, as soon as you put that XML file out there, your server is  
likely to take a beating while hundreds of people download your  
podcast.  And they MIGHT not even listen to it... or if they're like  
me, they're behind "forever" on the various content they want to  
listen to, and "get around to it" by storing unlistened-to files in  
their player... I recently finished up the 2006 files in one of my  
lesser-listened-to podcasts.

- Going back to the Apple thing, users can "point" iTunes directly at  
your server... and you can provide directions to do so, or you can  
create custom "buttons" or links that will "enter" the data for them  
into iTunes and a couple of other popular players.   If you want to be  
a "nice guy".  These links/buttons could be put on the main Houston  
AMSAT page, etc.

As far as the file goes, and the XML... there are a bunch of free  
tools out there to create the RSS "feed" and things.  And from what  
I've read and when I was playing with it, Apple's XML reader expects  
certain fields to be used for certain things so it's a good idea to  
"subscribe" a few players from your testing machine and see how things  
look, so you can "drive" your tools correctly.

Since a large number of your users will probably be subscribing with  
iTunes, I would target getting it right first...

All the Apple folks do is "re-publish" your RSS feeds for you, as long  
as you meet their criteria.  Some folks have tried for years to get  
their highly popular podcasts on iTunes Music Library and never gotten  
answers as to why Apple wouldn't put them on there, and others who  
have horrible podcasts that are an utter waste of time, get theirs  
done easily.  I think your "topic" shouldn't have any problems.  Look  
up how to add things like the "Clean" tag, telling people that there's  
no profanity in your podcast, etc... those little XML perks are useful  
for folks who have families, etc.

Also be forewarned that there are a LOT of fly-by-night software  
makers and servers out there that were trying to "cash in" on  
podcasting.  They either offer software at high cost (who needs it,  
you can literally edit the XML file by hand if you know what you're  
doing, or find free software to assist you until you're comfortable  
doing it) or offer free server space that isn't always "free" or has  
bandwidth caps, etc...

A final note:  Production quality is important.  If the recording is  
cruddy (easy to do when coming from an FM 2-way rig), too hot, too  
low, etc... no "bumper" announcements etc... it sounds crude and/or  
will REALLY sound bad on a decent stereo.  (I listen to podcasts via  
an iPod adapter in my Jeep on an upgraded non-factory sound system,  
for example.)  Nothing is more of a turn-off for a podcast listener  
than to have to constantly jockey the volume or have to mess with  
treble/bass controls to make your recording sound better.  Treat it as  
critically (or close) as you might a full-blown broadcast production  
and it'll be great.  Slap a cheap low-bitrate MP3 recorder on an FM  
rig and forget to set levels critically, and you won't have any  

One of the best ham radio podcasts out there, is Jeff KE9V's podcast  
called "Long Delayed Echos".  Jeff uses the Wordpress blogging  
software to handle the "syndication" part of his podcast, which can be  
a little confusing to first-time listeners, but I think he also  
provides those "magic links" for iTunes and maybe Podcatcher?  Don't  
remember... but Wordpress has a built in RSS feature for syndicating  
your text blog posts, and it's been found that it works well for MP3  
files too, so it's a popular way for home users doing small podcasts  
to publish.  Jeff is also listed (the last time I looked) on the feeds  
from the iTunes Music Store (often abbreviated ITMS by those talking  
about how to get more listeners for their podcasts).

Whew... sorry that was a long brain dump on podcasts and podcasting.   
I haven't listened to (much) commercial radio since I "discovered" them.

http://www.natetech.com/?p=241 -- my little article about what I'm  
usually "subscribed" to.

Better content, more focused on what I'm personally interested in, and  
I'm always glad to hear about more Amateur Radio content!  No matter  
how you slice it, well-produced or cheesy but with good content... the  
stuff I download to listen to is usually a LOT better than the  
corporate media companies put out on broadcast these days, that's for  

Nate Duehr, WY0X

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