Oh, Yes. I decided that I wanted to make an audible version of these posts, and that I was going to do it myself. And it worked. Sort of.
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“Let’s call it 1857.”
So ended a conversation and began a podcast. I can’t reveal the detail of the conversation, as the origin of the title is a closely-guarded secret.
TJ was a friend of pocketnotebooks.co.uk and when I took it over, I got in touch with him. We agreed that he would shoot some brief videos on a variety of notebook brands. The videos can still be found on the pocketnotebooks You Tube channel. I learned that commissioning video is too expensive a method of marketing notebooks, but I gained a relationship with a kindred spirit.
One thing led to another and TJ and I recorded a trial run of a podcast. We borrowed heavily from the Erasable Podcast, Pen Addict and RSVP, our favourite stationery themed shows. A standard format emerged, and we used the structure to facilitate a weekly conversation.
That’s all it is really. A conversation. TJ and I are a generation apart. I was 21 when TJ came into the world and this becomes prominent when making references, particularly to popular culture.
Might 1857 become a commercial project? It might. The production costs of the show are met by listener’s donations, merchandise purchase and underwritten by Nero’s Notes. There is a marketing benefit to Nero’s, but it’s difficult to quantify.
Producing 1857 is a channel for our creativity and a communication medium with customers. We have a Slack channel for listeners, and talking to them there is one of the few places where I talk directly with customers. It’s also a lot of fun.
To date, TJ & I have been disciplined. We record once a week and release once a week, so far, without exception. We pre-record episodes to cover vacations, maintaining an unbroken sequence of weekly releases that is approaching 90, as I type.
I enjoy the anchor that a regular schedule provides in my week. The discipline of researching, recording and releasing is good practice and I’ll be honest, I really look forward to my weekly conversation with TJ.
We have only actually met once, when Mags and I flew to Belfast for a weekend, where TJ and Meg showed us the town. Naturally, we recorded a show – which you can find here.
Every Monday evening, I come down to the the office to record an episode of 1857. “Make the past, the present in the future.” If you haven’t already, have a listen. TJ Cosgrove and I chat through our week and talk around a subject that has captured the attention of one of us. As I write, we have just recorded episode 64.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that two years ago, I had only the faintest concept of what a podcast was. I’d certainly never listened to one. I am sure that you, dear reader, are completely au fait with the concept, but lest someone like me has stumbled upon this post, permit me to supply a definition:
“A podcast or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download in order to listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.“(From Wikipedia)
There is a huge choice of podcasts out there – and I have become a voracious consumer of them. From time to time, I publish lists my current favourites. Here and here for example.
Personally, I live in a Mac world, and in my opinion Overcast leads the market. So easy, even I can use it.
Sometimes overlooked – the good old BBC produces some superb podcasts
How to record.
It never occurred to me that I could record a podcast. Then along came Anchor FM, where I was able to mumble into my phone on the way to work and call it a podcast. Anchor is a fantastic way to get started, and is adding functionality all the time. Anyone can become a podcaster in moments.
TJ has been knocking around the analogue world for a while, producing logos, and particularly, great video content. He had shot some video for me at Nero’s Notes. TJ and I got talking. We had never met, but what the hell? We decided to record. I looked around at outsourcing editing services, until we settled on TJ. We looked around at sponsors, until we settled on Nero’s Notes.
It’s that simple.
Not as complex as you might think. In a nutshell, we talk on the phone and each of us records our own voice. We usually talk through What’s App, but Skype works too. You could even just talk on the phone – subject to your call plan! We’re talking though our headphones. I use these. In order to record my end of the conversation, I use this, the Blue Yeti. (As does TJ.) It plugs into a USB in the back of my monitor. It has a little furry hat on (or a pop filter, as techie folk call it) to stop my plosives popping on the audio. Recently, I bought a boom arm, to reduce the clutter on my desk.
The recording is done though a piece of software called Audacity, where I press a button to start recording (the red one), and another to stop it (the yellow one). Then I export the audio to my dropbox and send TJ a link to the file. He then imports my file into his Audacity, and mixes and edits the two tracks together. There is undoubtedly some work in that editing phase, and I have no doubt that TJ’s experience in editing video has helped him master it quickly, but I am told that it is learnable, with great instruction available online.
Our recordings are hosted at SimpleCast, for a low monthly fee, and people subscribe to us through a wide variety of channels.
Why do we do it?
That’s really simple. We enjoy it. We take pleasure in our conversations, and our listeners do too. The podcast has spawned a Slack channel, 1857ers chew the fat, and that’s great fun too. If you would like to join – get in touch and I’ll send you an invite.
People like you support my writing. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.