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What is Podcasting?

Hello everyone! I can’t tell you all how excited I am to be podcasting again! It feels like a dream from some other time. But you’re not here to listen to me rave about my joy at returning to the Podosphere, you’re here to learn more about podcasting.

In this blog post and the ones found below, I will be addressing three things:
•    What is a Podcast?
•    Rhetoric use in Podcast Promos
•    Big name podcast novelists / who they are & why the podcast

Part 1, What is a Podcast?

Audio Companion Episode direct download

The first thing you have to understand about podcasts is that they’re relatively new. Most podcasters have been creating content for more than three years, and they’re still going strong. Some podcasters like DragonPage have crossed the internet/real world barrier, and have their shows nationally syndicated as radio broadcasts or on online radio networks like Sirius Satellite.

But that doesn’t really answer the question that most people ask you right off the bat when you tell them about this awesome podcast novel you found the other day: what is a podcast? It’s a simple enough question, and ironically, the most confusing and difficult one they can ask. Most professional podcasters will tell you that a podcast is “the automatic delivery of media (audio, video, PDF, etc) using RSS feeds”. They will also follow this explanation up by telling you a podcast is free. All of these things are true, but the average Internet user doesn’t even know what an “RSS feed” is, or what the format of a podcast really is like.

The best “what is a podcast” explanation I have found is by the Podcast 411 podcast. In his tutorial, podcast411 takes the stance that he is explaining podcasting to someone who can’t even operate his or her VCR (yes, the reference is a little old, but those people probably haven’t bought a DVD player because the very thought scares them to the core of their soul). After you finish reading his tutorial, even if you had never opened iTunes before, you would understand what a podcast is.

“Explain to them that 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 – But you are talking to a Flashing 12 – So stop trying to confuse them with Geek Speak).  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 (podcast411) or you can just throw it away because it no longer interests you (Yeast Radio).  You can also cancel any subscription at any time.”

A podcast is usually an audio recording, usually in the form of a talk show, with one to several hosts. Like other radio shows, podcasts sometimes have advertisements in them, but these are promos made by other podcasters trying to promote their own shows. Sometimes podcasts are video shows, like Ask A Ninja. Podcasts can be downloaded from various places on the Internet, usually from the websites, or “blogs”, that host the files, and most can be found in podcast directories such as iTunes. But the most important thing to remember about podcasts is that they are FREE.

That’s right: you don’t have to pay a single cent for your podcasts. The producers, or “podcasters”, of their show are giving their work away for free. Many people in mainstream media frown at this practice, but the facts don’t lie. When an author like Scott Sigler can give his books away through podcasting, gain over 40,000 loyal viewers, and snag a three book deal and a movie option for one of his hardcover releases, then this “free content” must be working.

Part 2, Rhetoric use in Podcast Promos

Everyone who pitches something uses basic rhetoric tools to spice up their offer, even if they are using them instinctively. Podcasters are no exception.

The perfect example of successful rhetoric use in a podcast promo is Scott Sigler’s promo for his podcast novel, Nocturnal.

First, he uses edgy music, which feels vaguely threatening. It almost seems to be building up to something, just like the opening lines of the promo: “Beneath the streets of San Francisco, they are waiting…”

He also has the lines for the promo read by a man using the classic “movie trailer” voice, that deep husky one that utters, “In A World…” that you are so familiar with from the countless trailers you have seen in the theaters. But this is what Scott is counting on: this voice gives impression that the subject of the narration is something interesting and good enough to merit an announcer, not just the author’s voice.

Then there is the element of the text itself. The opening hook describes a very vague aspect of the story, but you really want to know what the announcer is referring to. Creatures that drag you away in the night, what’s up with that? Who are they? And who is this “Queen”? Next, there is the description of the other book that Scott Sigler has released, Ancestor, which is described as a #1 Bestseller. That line really grabs your attention. You may be thinking to yourself, “oh, he’s a best selling author!” Lastly, there is the closing line, “get your scare on at scottsigler.com”. This line helps reinforce the overall tone of the promo: creepy but exciting.

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December 10, 2008 - Posted by | discusion, podcast

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