Sunday, April 03, 2011

New Podcast Reality

We have unusual shows...in day, time, and length...this week on BlogTalkRadio. Those are not capricious, rather BTR driven.

Hard is it to believe, young Jedi, but true. We at Left Ahead have hosted podcasts almost weekly for four (all the limbs on a typical human body) years. We have been in a groove or rut, depending on the spin. Sometimes we have guests and sometimes it's the two or three of us aiming for wisdom and release from a progressive prospective.

From the beginning until a month ago, we have almost always hosted at 2:30 PM Eastern on a Tuesday for an hour. Occasionally a campaigning pol could not fix that time/day and we shifted, but rarely.

The week is an example of BTR's new reality. We'll have Horace Small, executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, on at the usual starting time on the usual day, Tuesday 4/5 at 2:30 PM, but only for 30 minutes. Then, it will be Ray Sullivan, the campaign director for Marriage Equality Rhode Island, on Friday 4/8 at 6 PM, again for 30 minutes.

Our regular and our periodic listeners who click the live streams, as well as those who look in the right column of LA to read Live stream at 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays should know the reason for the changes. It was a cost decision based on BTR's understandable move to make more cash.

They announced that they wanted everyone to stop using the free version and upgrade to one of three premium ones — at $399, $999 or $2,490 a year. Woe to us. We do this from political conviction and moral drive. We don't make any money from the podcast and would be pressed to upgrade.

What we lose in the transition:
  • Shows can only be 15 or 30 minutes now instead of up to 90 minutes.
  • Only premium members can host from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • At the two higher rates, they don't insert a lead-in ad to the podcast file.
As a note, the 6 p.m. show is limited to a time when Sullivan could join us. They are in the middle of fighting for same-sex marriage legislation and he's a busy guy. He would have preferred 7 p.m., but we couldn't book then. Plus I was scheduled to start grand-jury service and was unsure whether I could host at the usual time.

So, I've gone from a huge promoter of BTR, particularly to my chums at Boston Media Makers to a mild huzzah utterer. It was a great free service, which has degraded into pretty good. It still has an easy-for-guests-and-hosts call-in to record system that's smart and highly functional. There's just less to praise when we fly with the poor people in the back of coach in the small seats near the lavatories.

Oddly enough, we're not so stodgy that we can't cope. Long accustomed to the flexibility of an hour with a guest or even just us, we may have been lazy. Now, limited to 30 minutes, I do more research and prepare more focused topics and questions.

Listeners who didn't want to commit to starting an hour can do the stream or click a selection from our archives expecting less (and maybe more focus). What doesn't kill us makes us terser.

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