Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dumpster Bust Interviews: Michael Geoghegan of Reel Reviews - Part II

In this second of two installments, Michael Geoghegan talks about how he got involved with podcasting and creating Reel Reviews: Films Worth Watching, the connection between podcasting and blogs, and the prospects for new adventurers into the still brand new realm of audio broadcasting over the Internet.

Check out Part I here.


Eric Berlin: How’d you originally get involved in podcasting?

Michael Geoghegan: My original introduction to podcasting was in its earliest days, where completely by accident I came across a mention of something that would automatically download Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code. And having been just about the right age to be familiar with who he was from MTV, my curiosity kicked in and I wondered if it was the same guy, and sure enough it was. And this was probably in the first week of September, when podcasting had been going on for…

EB: 2004?

MG: Yes, September of 2004. I think Adam had been doing it for two and a half or three weeks at that point. So it was right at the very beginning. There were probably only two other shows at that time that were even in existence.

EB: Wow. Fast growth since.

MG: Yeah, and the day I heard it, light bulbs just started firing off in my head. Being an entrepreneur, I had all these great business ideas for it. This was at a point where it was all extremely new, and I was thinking of ways to communicate with it.

I just got addicted to it right away. I started corresponding with Adam and Dave Slusher, who has a show called Evil Genius Chronicles. Somewhere around the first or second week of October, I really felt like I was falling behind the curve because there were at least 40 shows by then. And I figured that the best way to get involved and really find out what was going on – since I didn’t have a technology background – was just to jump right into the middle of it and start a show.

EB: Speaking of Adam Curry, what do you think of Daily Source Code and its place as the sort of one of the “founding fathers” of podcasting?

MG: There are a number of people who had important roles, especially from the point of view of the architecture that we use to podcast. But for me, it was hearing Daily Source Code and Adam that got me hooked.

Adam is certainly at the center of this whirlwind. Invariably, if you get introduced to podcasting, you’ll eventually find your way to Daily Source Code. But, you know, it’s getting to the point now where there’s over 4,000 shows. And so the nice thing is while his show is by many considered necessary listening, the beauty is you can find what you want out there right now. If all you’re interested in is independent rock, you can go find that.

EB: Podcasting is obviously in an amazing growth period right now. Where do you see it headed from here?

MG: It’s been absolutely explosive, and I see it continuing to go that way. The concept that someone can sit in their bedroom late at night or spare office or whatever it might be and broadcast to a worldwide audience is something that everyone I discuss it with instantly gets excited about. It’s a great concept.

And the fact that with audio you actually get to hear the person – I think that conveys so much more at times than writing can. I had no background with radio or anything, but I felt like I could convey my thoughts much better by recording my voice than by typing up a movie review or something.

So now, people keep getting involved. And the growth curve keeps getting steeper and steeper as everybody realizes that it’s not that hard. The tools are getting easier. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to do today, but it’s much easier than it was six months ago.

EB: That leads me to an interesting question. Podcasting is a different form of communication, and I noticed that the blog associated with Reel Reviews looks great and works as a place to check out what’s going on with Reel Reviews podcasts. That led me to think about the combination of blogging and podcasting. They kind of seem to work in tandem, and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that.

MG: Obviously, the early adopters of podcasting were people who were familiar with blogs. I would think that I am an anomaly in that sense. I never had a blog, and frankly didn’t understand why somebody would even want to have one. Like the rest of the public, I had read that there were all these people blogging, but the whole thing just never made sense to me.

Since I’ve been involved with podcasting, I now understand what’s been going on. Because of the ease of communication in that blog network and the fact that Dave Wiener and Dave Slusher and Adam Curry had all been people who had established blogs, they were in that circle of communication. Those were where the first podcasts came from, because it was just one more way to take advantage of something they were already using with RSS, and now they could just add an audio file component to that.

For me, the entire reason to get involved was the audio. But as with anything, the audio has some production value and time behind it. You can’t sit down in three minutes and do a podcast. You can sit down in three minutes and say, “I just read this great article over here on this guy’s blog,” or “Hey, I just got back from seeing this movie – it’s good.” You can convey quick information.

So I think they work well together, and in my case I use my website as the home for the audio files. And I also use it as a way to communicate with the people who are listening and paying attention to what I’m doing, as well as give everybody a little bit of an intro to the audio. So if I do a 15-minute Reel Review on a particular film, I’ll type up four or five sentences just to give you an idea of what it is I’m going to talk about [on that podcast]. So for someone cruising by the site one day, I might attract their interest.

EB: It seems that blogs can work as kind of an outpost to encourage interactivity.

MG: Sure, and obviously the blog component allows for another way for two-way communication to take place. If I put up a review, then generally very quickly after that they’ll be a number of comments about what other people thought of the film. It’s one more convenient way for people to get back to me. I also get a lot of audio comments on an audio-comment line that I have. So for me, I’m happy with any way that we can communicate.

EB: I’m sure you get asked this question a lot, but what’s your advice for potential podcasters out there?

MG: Just do it. Podcasting is exploding rapidly, but it’s still in its early going stages. Given that though, it is very different than it was just a few months ago. There are a lot of really polished shows now, with people who have sweepers and intros and they’ve gone out and bought all their nice mikes and all the audio equipment to make it sound really good.

But don’t let that intimidate anybody or cause anybody to not jump in. All you need is a computer and a mike. Ultimately, it’s the message and the enthusiasm for what you’re talking about that are going to attract listeners. So just start, and down the road you can work on the quality or production value of your show.

That’s the one thing: people don’t want to start until they can match the things that the top podcasts have, and that just means you spend months and months and get further and further behind the curve.

EB: Speaking of production value, I read that you helped some friends of yours start Grape Radio and that you produce it.

MG: Yeah, I’m the Executive Producer of Grape Radio. Those are some people that I had met through some entrepreneurial groups I’m involved in. I had always known that they are big wine buffs, and they really wanted to do a wine show but they didn’t have any interest in learning about blogs and podcasting. They just wanted to know, “How do we record the show and get it up there and out to people?”

My role there was to help them come up with a strategy for a concept for the show. They’re the ones that created the show – but I helped to make sure it was packaged correctly for what a podcast listener would expect, and I also took care of guiding them through the world of podcasting and audio.

No comments: