WAMU Launches “The Big Listen” Podcast

The Big Listen logoWAMU 88.5 is the leading public radio station for NPR news and information in the greater Washington D.C. Area. It is member-supported, professionally-staffed, and licensed to American University. WAMU is launching a podcast about podcasting.

The Big Listen is a new one-hour broad cast show that stitches together the smartest, funniest and most offbeat offerings from the ever-expanding podcast universe. In short, it is yet another podcast about podcasting. This rather meta category of podcasts appear to be growing. The Big Listen website says there are some 20,000 actively hosted podcasts about podcasting (and counting).

Lauren Ober is the host of The Big Listen. Previously, she was an award-winning radio producer for WAMU’s weekly newsmagazine Metro Connection. In addition, Lauren Ober is currently the producer of Orbital Path, a podcast from PRX about the cosmos and our place in it.

Each episode of The Big Listen will be hand-curated by Lauren Ober. The podcast will bring listeners an inside scoop on the podcasts that they already love. It is described as “a show for podcast junkies, podcast newbies, and everyone in between”. The Big Listen will feature interviews with creative podcasters, clips from their shows, and listener recommendations.

The Big Listen will premiere on Sunday, January 31, 2016, on 88.5 FM or streaming on wamu.org. You can learn more about The Big Listen on its website or by following the show’s Twitter account: @hearbiglisten.

Night Vale Creators Start Podcast Platform

Welcome to Night Vale book coverThe popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast is a fiction podcast that consists of dispatches from a surreal Southwestern town where creepy, unexplained, things are happening. The show has tons of fans, many of who have been inspired to create art based on the characters in the podcast. Now, the creators of Night Vale are branching out with their own podcast platform.

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are the people who created “Welcome to Night Vale”. They are starting their very own podcast platform called Night Vale Presents. The first podcast on the platform is called “Alice Isn’t Dead”, which is written by Joseph Fink.

“Alice Isn’t Dead” is another fiction based podcast. The show is about a truck driver who travels the United States in search of her wife. The idea appears to have been inspired by Joseph Fink’s experiences as he travels across the United States doing live editions of “Night Vale”.

The Night Vale Tumblr has further details. “Alice Isn’t Dead” is written and produced by Joseph Fink, but is preformed by Jasika Nicole (who played a major character in “Welcome To Night Vale”). “Alice Isn’t Dead” will have a completely new original score for each episode, written by disparition (who did the music for “Welcome to Night Vale”.)

The story in “Alice Isn’t Dead” is said to be darker than the story was in “Welcome to Night Vale”. The two podcasts are not related to or connected to each other. The first season of “Alice Isn’t Dead” will have 10 episodes and begin being released on March 8, 2016. It will be available for download from iTunes and other podcasting services as well as a Libsyn RSS feed.

The Night Vale Presents platform is intending to introduce more podcasts in the coming year. Right now, there isn’t any specific information about them. In addition, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are writing a sequel to their “Welcome to Night Vale” novel.

Podcast Movement 2016 Adds More Speakers

Podcast Movement 2016 logoPodcast Movement 2016 will take place in Chicago, Illinois, on July 6-8, 2016. The event is for anyone who is interested in podcasting. Seasoned podcasters and those who are considering getting into podcasting for the very first time are welcome. There will be plenty of speakers to listen to – and more have just been added.

Attendees of Podcast Movement 2016 will have the opportunity to participate in their choice of over 75 breakout sessions and panels, including sessions on the Technical Track, Creators Track, Business Track, Industry Track, and more. Keynote speakers will kick off and close out each day.

Podcast Movement 2016 recently announced that two of the world’s best story-telling podcasters will be at the event. Glynn Washington is the host and executive producer of Snap Judgment (which is part of WNYC Studios). The podcast is described as “Storytelling, with a BEAT”. It dares listeners to see the world through the eyes of another.

Before creating the Snap Judgement Radio Show, Glynn Washington worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist and more. He has composed music for Kunst Stoff dance performances in San Francisco, and performed live spoken word poetry in Detroit.

Aaron Manke is the creator, writer, and producer of the hit podcast Lore. It is an award-winning, critically acclaimed podcast about true life scary stories. Each episode of Lore looks into a uniquely scary tale and uncovers the truth behind it. Aaron Manke is also the author of a number of supernatural thrillers, including Indian Summer, Consumed, and Grave Suspicion.

In addition to these two amazing storytellers, Podcast Movement 2016 has also announced that Dan Miller will be there. He is an author, magazine contributor, and host of the 48 Days podcast. Dan Miller specializes in creative thinking for increased personal and business success.

Official Podcasts App Finally Comes to Apple TV

Apple logoIt seemed like a curious omission that when the new Apple TV launched to much fanfare during the final quarter of last year, it didn’t come preloaded with Apple’s ubiquitous Podcasts app. The Podcasts app had been standard issue on iOS devices as well as previous iterations of Apple’s set-top box for some time. But still, it was absent from the newly redesigned Apple TV.

And now, several months after the new Apple TV made its way into the hands of consumers, the device is finally getting an official Podcasts app from Apple. Earlier today, it was revealed that with the release of tvOS 9.1.1. (the special operating system for Apple TV’s), the Podcasts app will now be available to 4th-generation models of the media player.

If your Apple TV hasn’t already updated to the latest tvOS, you can force the update manually using the Settings app. Once the update is applied, the new Podcasts app will automatically show up on your home screen. Following suit with other Apple devices, the Podcasts app is a permanent fixture once it’s installed on the new Apple TV. It can’t be deleted.

Blubrry Goes Deep into Podcast Statistics

Blubrry LogoThere’s been a lot of discussion about podcast statistics lately. As the podcasting industry continues to expand and more players move into the space, differing opinions have arisen as to how podcast listenership should be measured. Of course, podcast statistics themselves are nothing new. Companies like Podtrac, LibSyn, and Blubrry have been recording and reporting statistics for years. And while it seems like this topic should be rather straightforward at this point, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there about how podcast statistics work.

Last week, Blubrry/Rawvoice CEO Todd Cochrane and Blubrry/Rawvoice CIO Angelo Mandato recorded an hour-long video presentation on the topic. The pair took a dive deep into the massive pool of statistics they’ve gathered thru the Blubrry podcasting network:

This is a in-depth behind-the-scenes look at how Blubrry Podcast Statistics measure and filter every podcast downloaded / live play delivering an accurate report to our podcasters, network customers and media buyers.

This deep dive video, while long, is perfect training for podcasters, reporters, media buyers and anyone else in the media space that want’s to understand how Podcast Statistics work.

Check out the video thru the link above or watch it right here:

Disclosure: I work part-time with the Blubrry support team and Podcaster News Executive Editor Todd Cochrane is the CEO of Rawvoice, parent company of Blubrry.

Epishow is a new Podcast Production and Distribution Service

Epishow logoAs podcasting has continued to grow, so have the number of services popping up to serve podcast producers. The latest entrant to this field is Epishow. And while many other services focus on one aspect of the podcasting process (voice recording, editing, distribution, etc.), Epishow is aiming to be a true all-in-one podcasting service that promises to let you record, edit, and distribute your audio on a single platform.

On its homepage, Epishow asks, “Want to record your own podcast, but have no idea where to start? That’s where we come in. We’ll teach you the basics, and get you up and going fast.” From there, Epishow suggests that there’s no longer any need to coordinate with guests over Skype, Google Hangouts or other VoIP platforms. Just log into Epishow, send the session URL to your guest, and hit the record button. When the recording is finished, Epishow will give your audio files. You can either edit them using your favorite digital audio software or you can use Epishow’s built-in editor to “trim, cut, paste and move your sound clips so you can get it just right.”

For distribution, Epishow says, “Create shows, guest pages, and show notes with 0 effort. Use WordPress or go it alone.” I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds like you can either use Epishow to host files you link to from your own website or you can possibly use Epishow to host your podcast site instead. Either way, the editing and distribution services are currently in alpha testing so it’ll probably be awhile before those features are ready for all users.

It’s free to create an account with Epishow and try out the company’s voice recording feature. No word yet on whether or not Epishow will be charging for its services in the future.

Live365 Officially Shutting Down

Live365LogoWe noted earlier this month that things weren’t looking good for long-running online radio service Live365. The problems the company is facing have turned out to be more than it could handle and Live365 will be shutting down completely on January 31, 2016. Last week, Live365 issued this statement to all of its registered users:

Dear Live365 Broadcasters,

You should have already received our notification and link to the press release regarding two issues that have affected Live365 in the last few weeks.

  1. The CRB ruling handed down in December, 2015 did NOT renew or address the expiration of the small webcaster percentage of revenue plans. At this time there is no small webcaster options except for full CRB rates.
  1. Live365’s long time investors have stopped funding us.  As a result, we are no longer able to sustain our service.

We are sad that we are closing our doors at the end of this month. There are always possibilities that we can come back in one form or another, but at this point in time, January 31, 2016 is the last day that Live365’s streaming servers and website will be maintained and supported.

This is a surprise to us as it is to all of you.   We are proud that Live365 was a pioneer in the streaming music business and have provided a platform to hundreds of thousands of broadcasters to have a voice over the years.

Unfortunately, we have to say good bye.

Along with this announcement, Live365 has recommended StreamLicensing.com and StreamGuys to users who’d like to continue running their online stations. Live365 is suggesting that users who migrate to either of these service let the new services know that they’re coming from Live365.

Midroll Drops Latest Listener Survey Stats

PMidroll Logoodcasting production and advertising company Midroll has published the findings from its latest listener survey. “Podcasts By The Numbers,” as the survey data is called is described by Midroll as “the industry’s largest ongoing survey of podcast listeners.” The objective of the survey is to gather information on the audience consuming Midroll’s shows so the network can help its advertisers make informed choices about shows they choose to run ads on. The survey was conducted between June and October of 2015 and includes results from over 168,000 surveyed listeners.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • 22% of listeners have an annual household income of $100,000 or more.
  • Half of the listeners have a bachelor’s degree or higher education degree, 53% spend at least $132 a year on printed books and e-books.
  • 61% report buying a product or service they heard about on a podcast ad.
  • As the audience grows, it diversifies, looking more like the demographics of the United States as a whole.
  • 88% listen to most or all episodes of the podcasts they subscribe to.

Midroll typically only works with shows that have significantly large audiences. So, even tho the company was able to gather its survey results based on a large sampling, it’s still not necessarily representative of all podcast listeners. The two biggest takeaways that small or independent producers may want to focus on are the “61% report buying a product or service they heard about on a podcast ad” and “88% listen to most or all episodes of the podcasts they subscribe to” stats. The first one could be useful to anyone seeking sponsorships for their own shows and the second one shows that there really is value in a show’s back catalog, and that it’s important to make that easily available to subscribers.

The full survey report can be found here.

Ustream acquired by IBM

Ustream LogoIf there’s one big tech company that’s been conspicuously absent in the world of new media over the last decade, it’s IBM. But that’s all changed now as IBM has acquired long-running video streaming service Ustream. Big Blue, as the heritage technology monolith is sometimes called, picked up Ustream as part of a larger plan for cloud-based video services the company is developing.

IBM’s new cloud-based video services unit is being designed specifically to serve business users. The service will provide improved analytics to its expanding user base. Braxton Jarratt, former CEO of Clearleap, which IBM acquired in December, will be leading up the new video services division. This group will include Ustream, Clearleap, IBM’s existing R&D assets in the streaming-video space, and two other recent acquisitions: storage company Cleversafe, and cloud data transfer company Aspera.

Ustream is based in San Francisco and has been around since 2007. The company, along with Livestream, is one of the Internet’s oldest services focused on live video. It’s hard to say for sure yet what this acquisition will mean for the future of Ustream. There’s a link on the Ustream homepage to a press release about the announcement, but no further details have been provided.

Podster is a New Magazine About Podcasting

PodsterPodster is a new digital magazine about podcasts and podcasters. It comes from Shelf Media. The very first issue has been released, and you can check it out for free. So, I did.

The first issue is a total of 53 pages. It felt like the right length as I was reading through it. The cover is eye catching and they used nice font for the name of the magazine. If Podster was sitting on the magazine rack at a Barnes & Noble, I’d probably pick it up and start flipping through it.

Of course, I rarely find myself at a Barnes & Noble nowadays, so its good that Podster is a digital magazine. If it were print-only, it would be much less likely that I’d have heard of it or that I’d make the effort to go out into the world to find a paper copy of it. (As far as I can tell, this magazine is digital-only and doesn’t exist in print.)

It stands to reason that a magazine about podcasting is presented in digital format. After all, once you get involved in creating and producing one or more podcasts on a regular basis, posting the show notes for each episode, and sharing links to it on social media – the internet becomes your neighborhood.

I found the content of the magazine to be interesting, well written, and incredibly relevant for podcast creators as well as podcast listeners. The January 2016 issue includes interviews with Alex Goldman from Reply All, Gretchen Rubin from Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg from She Does. Each interview includes easy to spot links you can click on to hear one of their episodes. Alongside the interview is a list and brief description of the podcasts that the interviewee listens to.

There is a section where an excerpt of an individual podcast episode has been transcribed (with permission from the podcaster, I’d assume). Again, there are links that take you directly to whatever podcast caught your attention. No need to “Google it”! There is also plenty to enjoy of other content that I haven’t described here.

I could not help but notice that this first issue of Podster is rather ad heavy. To my surprise, I was not annoyed by the ads because all of them were very relevant to podcasting. As a result, I was shown ads that were actually interesting to me. I hope Podster keeps that up. Overall, I liked Podster well enough to subscribe to it and am looking forward to see what comes next.