The Podcasters Across Borders 2006 conference kicked off Friday night in Kingston with an enthusiastic keynote by CBC Radio icon Shelagh Rogers. She spoke about the power of finding your own voice, and in doing so she inadvertently echoed the blogging mantras of authentic voice / unfiltered thoughts / honesty.
The fact is, without a natural gift for text-based communications and/or a gift plus five years of creative writing or journalism courses, blogging consistently and well is hard - albeit often necessary because search engines aren't yet adept at indexing audio content, and earning higher search rankings is a secret sauce of blogging ... so, don't stop blogging.
That said, podcasting - placing a decent mic in front of yourself or someone who needs to communicate and clicking the "record" button on your Mac (easier) or PC (oh well) - delivers authenticity to burn. Not true for all, but most people's authenticity juices don't survive the squeeze-filter of text / editing / rewriting - whether self-imposed or by "communications collaborators".
On Saturday, David Newland, an indie recording artist and co-producer of the Theatre of the Mind podcast by renowned science author and broadcaster Jay Ingram uttered what I think were the most profound words of PAB2006.
To preface David, there was lots of talk at this conference about the border / blur between mainstream radio broadcasting and podcasting - whether the podcaster's bias to "point of view" (POV) is more important than traditional journalism's approach to "unbiased information". It was interesting that Shelagh's 30 years or so in mainstream media, followed by a year or so experimenting with podcasting starting with last year's CBC lock-out, landed on POV as the BEST way to reach people.
David absolutely nailed the power of podcasting though with a summary of the Internet era, where search engines sift and sort the world in micro-seconds and "unbiased news" is a total commodity via multitudes of mainstream media Web sites, broadcasts and print pages. He said: “I’m going to listen because I’m interested in YOU. The information is everywhere.”
The raw information IS everywhere. I'm going to listen because I'm interested in you, your POV, something which mainstream media pretends it doesn't have (but of course any honest editor or producer or writer or broadcaster will tell you the POV lurks within, and media-saturated consumers will also tell you we can spot the lurking POV a country mile away).
Over lunch conversation (some of which was recorded by Ottawa podcaster Arthur Masters) David (one wise dude, who first met Jay Ingram while they worked together at the Discovery Channel) elaborated that podcasting POV doesn't have to mean soapboxing, or inflicting out-of-context personal opinion to the point where you turn off listeners. Rather, he says it's a more subtle "character" of you that people can trust and believe.
Integrity, in other words, the kind of thing that Shelagh Rogers - and before her, the late, Great Peter Gzowski - has mastered as she presents ideas both outside and inside the mainstream. Again, I'd submit that for most people, the communications magic of "YOU" comes through easier via a podcast's mic than via a blog's screen-based text.
(Nathan Rudyk is President of market2world communications inc., Canada's social media agency, founder of Ottawa's OCRIRadio.com tech business podcast, and VP Community Relations of Government 2.0 Technology Think Tank)