8-My Adventures in Podcasting

Sonia Brock in a red hat

There were a series of events that got me started in Podcasting. First, I bought a Stereo Receiver from a local electronics store, which I turned out not to need. Feeling sorry for the salesman, I traded it in for a Creative Zen MP3 player. Now I had a player with quite a lot of memory in it and all kinds of features. so what could I do with it? I started collecting all sorts of things to listen to and I discovered Podcasts. I started working with an aggregator, which is something that collects Podcasts. It just polls them from your list of preferences and downloads them.

This was 13 years ago. I started first with iPodder, which became Juice, which was free and it was good but not completely what I wanted. Seems to be no longer available. I discovered an aggregator called Feed Demon, which I actually paid for, and which I liked better because it gave me more control and didn’t automatically call up the iTunes Player, which I find intrusive.

I started to refine my interests. I liked documentaries, so Radio Netherlands was a natural for that at that in 2005 and the BBC, of course. Some BBC programs and many CBC programs, like Quirks and Quarks, are available as Podcasts.

I also monitored a few text-based Blogs. I went further afield and discovered a Blog that operated out of New Orleans. They were operational during the entire time of Katrina disaster and gave daily, sometimes hourly reports from inside the city. It was operated by an Internet Service provider who kept their site up and their client’s sites up and started rescuing other company’s data from their computers which were in high rise buildings well above the water line. The fellow that was running the Blog, his actual job was Security. He was ex-Special Forces with a technical background. He had a wonderful ability to communicate in simple language just exactly what he was seeing with no frills, just what it was like being there on the ground as it were (although they were ten floors up) in New Orleans.

Back to Podcasts – I discovered WNYC’s Morning Stories, Mark Blevis, National Public Radio and all kinds of things. Then I got into vintage radio programs. I discovered that listening to Charlie McCarthy and Fibber McGee and Tallulah Bankhead and Bob Hope was fun. I felt like I was back in time in a place where I was quite safe and some of the bad things that were happening now weren’t happening any more, back to a more innocent time.

I got really into early music through a Podcast called Thomas Edison’s Attic on WFMU “Edison cylinder and disc record rarities, many not heard since the old man himself stashed them away”. It featured: Tin Pan Alley pop songs, ragtime, vaudeville comedy sketches, flapper dance bands, old-time country tunes, historic classical music, laboratory experiments and other artifacts – all dating from 1888 through 1929. Not on anymore but I would recommend WFMU’s The Antique Phonograph Music Program with Mike Haar and MAC

Because I used to listen to Jeff Healey’s “My Kind of Jazz” on Jazz.FM 91, which featured jazz from the 20’s to the early 40’s, I regained my earlier appreciation for the fine musicianship back then. I was able to download some vintage big band Podcasts with Harry James and Red Nichols and His Five Pennies and so on. The commercials were interesting too. My goodness, did they ever talk up cigarettes in those days. It was almost seductive how they went on about how round and firm and fully packed they were.

I listen to Podcast programs at night. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping, and they help me to relax. Certain kinds of voices on the radio will do that. They’ll lull me off to dreamland. Lord knows what subliminal messages I’m taking in 🙂 In the morning I would delete the programs I’d listened to and add some more from the Podcasts I was downloading on a regular basis. Nowadays, I use Stitcher which does the downloading for me

I started my own Podcasts, a series of small sound files, I kept them short. I put them online and a small circle of fans enjoy them quite a lot. I bought a nice Sennheiser mic and I’m busy re-recording my earlier Podcasts to improve the sound quality. For the technically inclined, I recorded in Mono at 44100. Not all MP3 players can be heard properly in stereo. Plus it saves some bandwidth/download time.

My Podcast listening habits have changed over time. Now (2017) I listen with an early iPhone permanently affixed to nice Logitech speakers at my bedside. My Podcast aggregator of choice is Stitcher. Some favoured podcasts, in no particular order were:

Quirks and Quarks
99% Invisible
The Archaeology Channel
Penn’s Sunday School

I do not do much podcasting myself anymore but I’m going back and editing for style and content, the transcripts of my earlier 75 podcasts.

I have lived a longish life. I’m was 71 when I wrote this and I’m now 81 and gaining. I’ve had some interesting times. I’ve lived in the Canadian north and Chatham, Ontario, and Detroit and New York City. Now, I’m back in Toronto. I combined my experiences to tell stories about my life, hopefully in an interesting manner. It’s my audio-biography to share with my daughter, my family, friends and perfect strangers who stop by and listen in.

That small circle of friends and family has expanded. I had a nice note from a lady in Brazil telling me she enjoyed my Podcasts and used them to help her learn English because I spoke slowly and clearly. I guess that helps explain why my Statistics once showed 8% subscribing from China.

wavy line

© Sonia Brock 2005