Thursday, April 26, 2007

Podcasting at a Glance

Podcasting...well I'm one of those former DJ's from years gone by finding a way to actually use my early experience to produce audiocast for the U.S. Forest Service. No matter what you want to call the our case it's a customized audio file that we produce to provide information to the public. No it's not all about music as teenagers would like to believe.
Here's a link to the Black Hills National Forest Podcast Web site.

In developing a Podcast, I first think about a topic that needs further discussion besides a text only News Release. The Forest tries our best to produce multimedia Press Releases. If you have the time and employees to produce content, then throw a little video, audio and a few high quality pictures in the mix to create a multimedia News Release.

Before I get ahead of myself, let's talk more about the production side of a Podcast. Now that you have chosen a topic, coordinate with subject matter experts to join around a small table to chat. The Black Hills National Forest calls our audio & videocast content ForestNet.

I have a standard introduction that identifies the show, the topic and our guest. Once that's over, we move into the questions. Hey...don't worry about messing up. Remember it's not a live show...start over at the point you tripped up. At the end, Close out the show with thanking your guest for joining you and remind folks who your guest was and the topic of the show. The Host says goodbye and then export the audio file to audio editing software.

I use Sound Forge audio editing software. It was $69.00 at Best Buy. Apple Quick Time Pro is approved by the U.S. Forest Service for downloading and is only $29.00. I have ordered the software and look forward to using it to produce future Podcast.

Once your in the editing mode, clip out all the mistakes you may have encountered. Take :10 sec of music and place it in the front and fade into your intro. At the end, fade out with music and your closing. Save your audio file to a server and export it as an Mp3 file and upload to a Blog.
Yep a Blog. I have created a Blog similar to Social Media. Take a look how I use it to deliver my content to the public. At the site, you see a brief description or News Release, video and audio files as well. Posting your content to a Blog can help push your content out to the world. In my case, all the content is in the Public Domain and I'm just sharing the content the Forest produces. Google picks up the topic and it becomes searchable. Unfortunately, my Government website isn't very attractive to Google.
The Forest outsources our streaming content with an outside vendor called Streamhoster. The Forest Service gave us permission to link to the external site. I'm sure it want be long the FS will be able to stream content from its own servers. The bandwidth that audio and video files take up when delivering can be a pain if the system isn't designed for that type of service. Streamhoster allows us to keep up with the number of hits on our content and actually provides you with an URL once your file is uploaded. You don't have to chat with anyone. It's that fast!

Once the Blog is established and your file is on a server, visit Feedburner to develope an RSS Feed for your Blog. Once it's working well, iTunes will soon be scanning your Blog with the help of Feedburner to alert the world you have new mulitmedia content on your site. Wow...that was fun explaining.
You can also see U.S. Forest Service content from the Black Hills of South Dakota in iTunes under keyword: black hills.
Better go for now. In closing, I have a great passion for this type of work and would be more than happy to share my work with anyone wanting to explore this emerging technology.
Everyday is research and development...isn't this fun.


Steve Dunsky said...

Great summary, and thanks for the insights. I hope we start doing more of this soon around the agency.

Ray Massey said...


Nice audio feeds. Can tell there's been professional training/voice.

How does this fit w/USDA letter telling all of us to take down our outfacing material until they can develop policy?

Don't believe the people passionate/excited about this technology will have the patience to wait, they'll just go on private sites instead of using FS servers.

Have you given any thought to producing audio feeds about recreational aspects of forest and advertising their existence so people planing to visit can load them on an Ipod and bring them with them to play as they visit different places on the forest? I think that would probably go over real well. I've given that some thought for people getting ready to cruise the Inside Passage of Alaska as they'll be spending 90% of their cruise within the Tongass.

Keep up the great work.

Gary C. Chancey said...

Thanks Steve for motivating me to publish on Social Media.

Ray, I have the technology to produce a Podcast over the phone as well. So if you have an idea, let's give it a try to customize your own Podcast Theme. If you go to the EMS site on the WO FSWEB, you'll see an example of the quality over the phone. If you'd like to explore further, call me at 605-673-9289.

Ref: How does this fit w/USDA letter telling all of us to take down our outfacing material until they can develop policy?

Answer: We have permission to outsource the storage of our audio and video files. As long as it is approved, you can link to an external source.
I believe the biggest concerns is linking to a text Blog from the a Forest Service website.
As a Public Affairs Rep, my main attention is getting to the public. Let me know how I can assist. Gary

Toni Stafford said...

Thanks for the detailed instructions. We've been talking about using some of these kinds of technologies on a few of the projects with which I am involved. Now I have a sense of how easy it might really be to do it. Thanks!