Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hey Mom, I'm a Broadcaster Now

When I was a kid I thought it would be cool to be on the radio as a disc jockey. My dad was into CB radios back then and he had a decent set of walkie-talkies that he let me borrow to play with. Walkie-talkies are not all that powerful. They might have a range of about one block if you’re lucky. But that was fine by me; I was on the air.

So I dragged out an old turntable from the attic and got my collection of 45 RPM records, all 10 of them, and started my new radio station from my bedroom. This was in the 1960s, so I had songs by Peter, Paul, and Mary and the Beach Boys. I played them on the air for any close neighbor who may have had his CB tuned to channel 11. There probably weren’t any, since my dad got no complaints.

When I entered college, one of the few extracurricular activities I signed up for was to be on the college radio station. It could get out no more than about 10 miles on a good day. Still, that was a far cry from the one-block range of my old walkie-talkie radio station. I would spin records once or twice a week, for a couple of hours. When I was a junior, a couple of college friends and I even started the stations first daily newscast.

My career goal was to teach science. I made up my mind when I was in the eleventh grade that I wanted to be a science teacher. So there was never any doubt that I would pursue that career. But my fall-back plan was to also get my broadcasting license and apply to be either a disc jockey or a newscaster. It’s a good thing I got into teaching my first year after graduation, because none of the broadcasting opportunities panned out.

A few years ago, however, a new type of broadcasting was invented. And it didn’t really have anything to do with a radio station. After the invention of the mp3 player, Apple Computers came out with the de facto standard of portable music players, the iPod. But iPods and other mp3 players can play more than just music. Some can now play video as well, but they all can play voice-only mp3 files. In other words, if you can speak into a microphone, you can now create an mp3 file and upload it to the Internet.

These voice mp3 files that are meant to be played back on an iPod are called podcasts. So now, anybody can create their own radio show. Podcasts have been around for a few years, but last week I decided to start my own.

Some people use their podcasts to play an instrument, or sing. But most podcasts are used as a medium to give your opinions to anyone out there who will listen. People find podcasts by subscribing to the show, much as they would subscribe to a blog. The iTunes software, that comes with iPods and can be downloaded off the Internet, has thousands of podcasts on every conceivable topic. Many of them have video. Mine doesn’t.

I use my podcast to discuss the opinions I express in these columns. Since I just started podcasting, I have been creating one every day. Later, I’ll cut back to once a week when I get caught up with everything I want to say.

Anybody who is interested in checking out my podcast can just search for my name on iTunes. If you don’t have an iPod, you can go to my feed site at and click on the podcast link.

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