December of 2013 the Internet radio station I’d been broadcasting Who Asked You? live on closed up shop. While our live stream was still available on Rocking Comedy Radio, the timing was just right as Spreaker had begun to pick up steam. Along with being able to broadcast live, we could embed the player on our site which had a built-in chat room and it allowed us to get into the catalog of select shows on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio. It was a no-brainer! Another thing that attracted me to Spreaker was being able to stream on our own time. We weren’t necessarily locked into a time slot anymore. Although we still stream at the same time each week for consistency and because we’re still on Rocking Comedy Radio. But the option to do other streams is there.
Now that we’ve been using Spreaker for a few months, I’ve been able to familiarize myself with all the features and functions. I have to say, it is an incredibly useful service. They’ve thought of just about everything someone could use for producing their own show.
They also have some pretty nice listening stats that are presented in clean, easy-to-read graphs and pie charts. They tell you how many people listened live, how many downloaded the recorded show and if your show is available on iHeartRadio, you get some statistics of listens on their in comparison to who’s listening on Spreaker.com.
With all that said, there are a few features I’d like to see added. The two main ideas I have involve the embeddable player. I don’t know much about how streaming audio works on the back-end. More specifically the Icecast infrastructure that Spreaker’s streaming is built around, so this may not even be possible, but I’d like to have a player I can embed ahead of time that automatically kicks into “live” mode when we start streaming. Currently, you have to start streaming and then grab the embed code for that live player and paste it into your site.
For shows like ours that don’t stream 24/7 and like to keep our listeners on our website during the netcast, it’s a bit of a pain minutes before show time to hit “connect” then grab the code and paste it. Now you’re probably thinking, why not just start streaming ahead of time so the live player can already be displayed on your page? That’s exactly what we’re doing. But what do you do during that time before your show starts? Play music? Stream dead air? Currently, we leave the mics on and just chit chat. Sort of a pre-show, behind-the-scenes conversation. But we can do that as we’re on the professional account which doesn’t have time limits on live broadcasting. If you use the free option, you’re limited to 45-minutes of live streaming. So getting that live player embedded early enough on your site so listeners that trickle in before show time can tune in, would cut into that 45-minutes.
When you’re not streaming, or as soon as you turn your stream off, the player automatically defaults to a recorded episode. If you start streaming again (say your connection got interrupted and you had to reconnect), you have to grab the new player code, update your site and then have your listeners hit refresh. But since they can’t hear you live anymore, how can you tell them to do that? The chat room? No, because it’s not active on the player when you’re not live. It just seems like it’d be easier if there was a specific player meant for live streams that can automatically start playing the live audio when it starts.
Now, about that Spreaker chat room built into the player. It’s far too small. It’s confined to the 644×131 dimensions of the player which shows you about three lines of chat at a time. It also scrolls up. New messages appear above old ones unlike a traditional chat. If you’ve got a number of people talking, this can make it difficult to follow along and you may miss some great comments. What I’d like to see is a button on the player that will pop out a resizable chat window. For us, we have our own chat room, but I like to monitor the Spreaker one as well in case someone shows up there. It’d be nice if I could have our chat and Spreaker’s in their respective windows next to each other on my screen.
NOTE: There is a larger chat window available when you’re listening on Spreaker’s website via the player that sits at the bottom of their site. But this doesn’t apply to the embed player.
This next wish is a little one, it’s not as important as the first two, but would be nice nonetheless. It’d be great if when you manually upload an episode or when you have the RSS sync turned on, if Spreaker could pick up the ID3 show art embedded in the audio file. Who Asked You? has our show’s logo embedded in every episode file so our artwork displays correctly on iTunes and all the apps and directories with which we’re included. But on Spreaker, I’ve noticed after episodes are added, I have to go into the individual track and add the show art to it. It’s not that big of a deal as Spreaker prominently displays your logo on your profile page but it’d be nice if the individual episodes would add the art automatically to give me one less step to do and to keep my anal retentiveness under control.
And if I could rub the genie lamp one more time, I’d like to add a feature to iHeartRadio. Because Spreaker and iHeartRadio are interconnected (i.e. you control your iHeartRadio show content from Spreaker) it’s not possible to make changes to an episode after it’s already been added to iHeartRadio. Here’s how the inner workings were explained to me by a Spreaker rep. You add a new episode to your Spreaker feed and it pings the servers at iHeartRadio which then downloads your show and caches it on their system for playback through their website and apps.
The problem is, if for some reason you removed an episode from Spreaker, it doesn’t remove it from iHeartRadio. Once it’s been added there, it’s there to stay. I have first hand experience with this issue. In the beginning, we were starting our live stream 15-minutes early so the player was embedded on the site in a timely manner as explained above. Once we were done, I’d remove the recording from Spreaker, cut out all that pre-show nonsense and re-upload it to Spreaker. Unbeknownst to me, those episodes weren’t getting pulled from iHeartRadio, long story short, we had a very messy list of shows on the service that included duplicates, some that were labeled “live” instead of with the episode title which we come up with after the show is over, some were missing descriptions and so forth.
Thankfully the folks at iHeartRadio were VERY helpful and cleaned up our listings for us. To prevent mucking it up again, I created a separate channel on Spreaker that’s not on iHeartRadio just for our live show. So my last wish would be to have some sort of iHeartRadio dashboard to log into so I could manage all this myself. Another problem is our show art isn’t updating (as of this writing) on the iHeartRadio app. Along with the new website, our show’s artwork got a slight update to match. If only there were a control panel I could access where I might change the image myself.
So that’s it. Just a few things I’d like to see happen with these great services. Spreaker is so awesome though, we’ll still use it even if they don’t grant my wishes.
This past Saturday we unveiled an all-new website for the Who Asked You? show. Our previous design served us well, to say the least. We stuck with it for over four years. It underwent a slight color scheme facelift for our 5th anniversary show, but even though it worked for our purposes, screens have gotten bigger making it look more narrow and wasting a lot of space, Google has gotten more picky with SEO and it was becoming harder and harder to find banners and widgets that fit in the old-school sidebar width that nobody uses anymore, so it was time for a change.
The new design is much simpler. My goal there was to please the search engines with a fast loading, cleaned up site with fewer images to call up. One of the first things you’ll notice is we’ve returned to a color scheme similar to what we started out with. Our original, hand-coded HTML site was black, gray, blue and red. That was followed by the WordPress site that was black, gray, darker gray and white. I facelifted that one and made it much lighter; bright blues, light grays and whites. Well, as you can see we’re back to our dark origins. I think it suits the feel of the show anyway. We get pretty demented. We’re now down to one sidebar that is much wider and more widget and ad banner-friendly. You’ll also see six icons at the top for the most important links including Amazon and our social media pages.
One of the biggest changes you’ll see is in the Show Archive. It’s now divided up by year and you can jump to any of them from a drop-down menu. Before, the Show Archive page was one loooooooooooong page containing every single episode with its blog post. This, will also help cut down on page load time but more importantly, it makes it easier for listeners to browse around the archives and find the oldies they’re looking for.
If you listen to the show regularly, you know that we have pretty good distribution. We’re on so many apps and streaming services I had to put them all on their own page. The “Listen Anywhere” sidebar box has now become the “Listen Anywhere!” page. Not only can you access our show’s profile pages (where available) by clicking on the logos, but you can also easily access the app stores for ALL the devices these apps are available on using the links listed.
So that’s it… the new Who Asked You? website. I hope you like it, if not, too bad because we’re probably gonna ride this design out for a few years and get some good mileage out of it.
“The cloud-first podcast discovery app that “makes podcasts look cool again” according to GigaOM. Explore over 300 hand-picked mix-channels on specific topics (e.g. Cinema, Gadgets, Baseball, Learn English) or search by title if you know it. Play your discoveries right now or hit Play Later to store interesting episodes offline (like Pocket for podcasts). Your subscriptions sync across devices – no need to re-add them for each device. And our servers track and mix your latest shows, which saves you bandwidth and battery life, and lets you sync in seconds instead of minutes. Offline access is child’s play too, thanks to our flexible Auto-Downloads feature. Oh, and it’s a free app.”
CLICK HERE to listen to Who Asked You? on Player FM.
More exciting news on the Who Asked You? front as just this past week our show was accepted into Clear Channel Broadcasting’s iHeartRadio service. They’ve got apps for both Android and iOS as well as a website where you can create custom radio streams by adding any number of Clear Channel’s traditional radio stations as well as a library of select podcasts and other radio shows. And now, one of those shows is ours!
We look forward to providing iHeartRadio with our content so awesome it’ll melt their servers… but not really. Our content is not THAT awesome, nor will it melt any computer hardware. CLICK HERE to check us out on the iHeartRadio website.
On October 20th my podcast, Who Asked You? celebrated its 6th Anniversary! My co-hosts and I did our usual thing on milestone shows; we didn’t plan a thing. The anniversaries and other specials we do get no show rundown or any pre-planning whatsoever. After all, we do that for every other episode of the podcast, it’s nice to have a little break and just turn the mics on and see where the conversation goes.
You never know what you’re gonna get on these types of episodes. For example, on this anniversary we spent 20-minutes ordering pizza online and arguing over toppings. Who would listen to that? To be honest, I don’t know. But what I do know is doing these special shows this way adds a certain spontaneity to them that often times leads to a fun moment and makes them that much more memorable.
And speaking of memorable things… have you ever listened to an old-time radio mystery from the 1930s? They ran for quite some time even after television came along. In fact, CBS’ Radio Mystery Theater aired during the 70s and 80s. Perhaps one of the most popular radio dramas was THE SHADOW, adapted from the comic book and later turned into a film starring Alec Baldwin.
Halloween is my favorite holiday, so we do a Halloween episode of the podcast every year. This time around we changed it up a bit and decided to do one of these old radio mysteries. We hope to turn this into an annual event. Although, it’s a lot of work. Especially coming up with a good story. Since copyrights regarding scripts and radio broadcasts from the 30s and 40s is a little blurry as to what was actually covered under the copyright law of the time, we decided to avoid the headache of adapting one of these existing scripts and just wrote our own. My goal was to create a charming little story with memorable characters and just the right amount of campiness. I also wanted to make sure all those signature sound effects the old radio shows were famous for made their return in our tale. Footsteps, doors, gunshots and even a slap to the face can all be heard in our mock “broadcast”. We called the show, THE MYSTERY FILES and this particular episode was titled, “Nightmare At Sleepy Creek”. I got together with my co-hosts, Dennis Wright and Jabari Tiffith to hash out some story ideas. Dennis ended up taking a nap during our second meeting which inspired the name of our town/creek.
The editing process was fun. I used some audio filters to get that aged, AM radio sound along with all the static, pops and crackles you’d hear on recordings from back then. I spent a little time and even added some momentary changes in the speed to create the effect that the tape was a little worn out. Thanks to AudioJungle.net I was able to find a cut of noir music that fit perfectly with the mood we were trying to create.
We broke it up into two parts and took a short break between them to come out of the 1930s and do our regular Who Asked You? show before going back in for the conclusion. And as a bonus, I even put together a short gag reel that we play at the end of the episode. Now some of you are probably thinking, ‘didn’t they do those shows live back then?’ Yes… yes they did. But we weren’t ballsy enough to do that our first time out, so it was pre-recorded. Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to make it sound aged if we’d done it live. Maybe we’ll give that a go next year. Until then, you can hear “Nightmare At Sleepy Creek” by clicking here.
Nominations opened today for the 9th Annual Podcast Awards chosen by listeners… and podcasters nominating their own podcasts (myself included). If you listen to any podcasts you think deserve recognition, head over to the Podcast Awards website and nominate them by October 15th! I won’t beg and plead for you to nominate Who Asked You? on the site. If you genuinely believe we deserve it, by all means, go ahead and put our site in the running.
For me though, this is more about getting the word out about this growing industry. Podcasting is the future of spoken word audio entertainment. And award shows like this one that take place during the New Media Expo help to get the word out and show that this medium is much more than dorks crammed into a basement talking into Radio Shack headsets. In fact, at Who Asked You? we are crammed into a living room… thank you very much!
How funny would it be though if our raunchy little show got nominated? Again, not asking you to do so. But if you enjoy the program and are so inclined, enter us in both the “Comedy” and “Best Produced” categories ONLY. Those are the two bad boys we’re gunnin’ for this year. I think we’re a chuckle-worthy show and I bust my ass to make it a professional sounding one — Squatty Potty and boner jokes aside. Whether you like our content or not, technically speaking, we do sound pretty damned good. So check out the site. They’ve got a ton of categories with which just about any podcast will fit. You have until October 15th, so make a list of your favorites (hopefully we’re in there somewhere) and… CLICK HERE!
Who Asked You? is now available on the Swell app for iOS devices. You can learn more about Swell at their website, Swell.am and you can download the app by clicking their logo above. Chase Shumway, executive producer and the best co-host of the show spoke about being added to the service, “That’s just… swell.”
Swell is ‘news radio rebooted’. The app offers you the ability to listen to your favorite podcasts and talk radio programs on any iOS device, with Android support coming soon. It learns and remembers the types of shows you listen to and automatically suggests similar shows based on your listening preferences.
“We were meant to be on Swell,” Chase said. “I mean, if you look at their introduction video on their website, comedian Mike E. Winfield appears in it. He was once on our show too! It’s destiny!”
Hot off the processor, another wedding highlight video. This one however, features our friend Nova and his fiancé Bonny. Jim, the editor on this video, and myself met Nova earlier this year to work on another project related to weddings. He showed Bonny our handiwork one evening and she instantly fell in love with our style and the decision was made for us to shoot their wedding.
This was one of my favorites to work on. Not only because Nova and Bonny are super nice people, but the location was so photographable! There were old west nicknacks everywhere, horses, hand-strung lighting and hand-made center pieces that Nova and Bonny created themselves. Plus, as the day went on the lighting and the sun set made for some great video. And since we were half on duty and half guests, Jim and I got a chance to party and chat with everyone. Not to mention, they had Sam Adams on tap! A very good decision!
Last Sunday I headed out to a special screening of BACK TO THE FUTURE. It was digitally remastered and screened at Cinemark theaters as part of their Classic Series which includes six other memorable movies like GREASE, ANIMAL HOUSE and GHOSTBUSTERS that will play next month. I, along with the Who Asked You? Crew, will be there for that paranormal party.
Just before the movie started a guy stood up in the audience and announced that after the movie was over, we were all welcome to get our picture taken outside with a DeLorean DMC-12 and a replica of Doc Brown’s white box truck.
The time machine parts weren’t permanent add-ons to this DeLorean. It seemed as though they could easily be removed so one could go cruising around town in this rarity. In fact, while snapping pictures, my WAY? co-host Dennis and I noticed the car and its owner were part of the Las Vegas branch of the DeLorean Owners Association. It’s fascinating to see the prestige that surrounds this car. I didn’t even know such an association existed… I feel like I should’ve though. Seems like a given with anything as collectible as this. But is the car famous because of the movie? Or because it had such a limited run? Maybe a little of both?
There’s even an official marketplace on the DeLorean Motor Company website that buys and sells the stainless steel wonder. Just FYI, if you’re in the market for one, they go for about $40,000 these days.
But there was another movie replica car that caught our eye… a Jeep from JURASSIC PARK! In case you didn’t know, the Spielberg film is my favorite movie. Now geeks like me will notice, the colors of this Jeep aren’t quite right. But still, it’s pretty damn close. I’d still drive it to go looking for a T-Rex or two. We spent more time checkin’ out the Jeep than we did the DeLorean. This marked only the second time in my life that I’ve seen a DMC-12 up close and in person. But I’ve never seen a JP Jeep!
On a random side note, during BTTF, I was snacking on some really good trail mix. Yes, I sneak snacks into the movies. I’m not about to pay $4.00 for a puny little bag of Peanut M&Ms. Dennis and I both hit Target in search of some trail mix and saw this: Archer Farms Peanut Butter & Jelly. I ate the whole bag! Yep, I’m a pig. If you’re in the market for some trail mix — instead of a DeLorean — I recommend this. It’s about $4.00, but has way more in the bag than anything you’d get at the concession stand.
Just like the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune has also given us a little shout out for the ALASKA’S MARINE HIGHWAY doc running on PBS stations now.
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