It got a little crazy there for a few weeks, but now that things have settled down I can talk about what’s been going on with the podcast. On July 11th, after six-and-a-half years, we celebrated our 300th Who Asked You? episode! We did our usual free-for-all. And we did our usual shots at the start and end of the show — the first of which went down the wrong pipe. Nothing like coughing up a lung live on-the-air.
I made a few changes to the show’s website to coincide with the milestone. They were fairly subtle. The social icons in the sidebar got a slightly new look and a new social button got quietly added. Shhh… our Google+ page was a ‘silent launch’ as I continue to populate it with content. Although it’s a cleaner, less buggy and more modern interface than Facebook, my energy level for trying to build a community on yet another social media platform is virtually non-existent. Besides, there’s no correlation between a social following and the size of your show’s audience. With that said, if you’re interested in circling us, or whatever they call it on Google+, click here.
The show’s logo also got a slight update. It now features a black border to help it stand out better on lighter backgrounds and the glassy sheen is not only flipped the other way, it’s more apparent making the logo look shinier. Ooooooo!
As part of our 300th show, I released a number of photos taken of us by my good friend Jim of Jim Swinson Photography. The images were taken while we recorded the 299th show. I realized there were hardly any pictures of us actually doing the show and thought it might be nice to finally give folks a little peek behind the scenes. You can find the pictures on our Facebook page or on TwitPic.
We debuted a new theme song and show intro on the 300th as well. We had used the previous theme for over two years and it felt like a good time to refresh our sound. The new music is great as it includes a number of additional cuts and variations making it more versatile with editing. I think it’ll keep a little longer as the melody is not nearly as repetitive as the old theme.
Along with the new music came a new announcer. We’d been using the previous voice over guy since the show started in 2007. Not being a big fan of change, I debated for quite some time finding someone else. After all, he’d always been the voice of Who Asked You?… besides us of course. In the end, I felt it was the right choice to do so. Since our original announcer had a deeper voice and used a snarky tone, I decided this time, the voice track should sound more casual and lighthearted.
The show’s intro is arranged a little differently too. Before, there was a different open each week featuring funny drops from movies, TV shows and viral videos online. As you can imagine, that was very labor intensive. I wanted to cut down on the workload with some parts of the show (like the intro) as it’s increasing with other parts (more on that next). So the open will change once a month now instead of every week.
The additional work is coming from the production of Who Asked You? DAILY, our new daily highlight podcast featuring short two to three minute clips from each week’s episode released in the morning Monday through Friday. DAILY is strictly a promotional tool. There’s a growing interest in short form content. Stitcher Radio has launched a ‘Short Attention Span‘ section under the New & Noteworthy category. The Omny Personal Radio app based out of Australia specializes in running short podcasts and highlights intermixed with your own music collection to create a sort of personal radio station. And iHeartRadio has a section of their site and app called ‘The Daily Pulse‘ which features highlights from late night talk shows, cable news programs and other shows from around the country. In fact, the original intent of doing Who Asked You? DAILY was to get included in iHeart’s Daily Pulse, however plans changed and we’re told expansion of the Daily Pulse section is on hold. But that’s okay, it’s still available on iHeartRadio in the normal Talk section.
And it’s on plenty of other services too. If you can only handle us in small doses, look for it on Omny for iOS, Spreaker and SoundCloud. You can also check it out on a special Tumblr site I’ve set up as well.
We’ve also got some new segments in the works which we’ll be rolling out on the show over the coming weeks (maybe months), depending on how quickly I can get them organized and produced as I’m also currently trying to write another episode of THE MYSTERY FILES, our old time radio drama we plan to do every year for Halloween. Last year’s seemed to be well received, and we had a blast doing it too. More on that and the new segments another time. Stay tuned!
Our Who Asked You? show will no longer be heard on the Swell app because the Swell app will no longer be available. According to Re/code Apple is buying the iOS application for $30-million! Or more accurately, they’re buying the recommendation algorithm Swell has created. As part of the deal the app itself is getting axed and will no longer be available a week from now.
So that’s one less place you’ll find our show, but I’m sure other apps will come along in the future. It’ll be interesting to see what Apple does with this new technology. Apparently, the Swell team is taking jobs at the company. I wonder if we’ll see a Swell-like revamp to the Apple Podcast app that doesn’t seem to be a big hit compared to other podcatchers.
As someone who works out regularly I, like many others, have a cheat day. The cheat day is less a whole day of cheating, and more a cheat meal. I try and eat a well balanced diet. I stay clear of soda pop, foods that have a lot of trans fats and those with a lot of added sugar. I eat whole grain bread, all-natural peanut butter, salads, lots of fruit, blah blah blah…
The cheat meal serves a valuable purpose: to keep me from going insane. It’s nice feeding your body good, wholesome foods, but sometimes you just want to pig out on something unhealthy. My guilty pleasure? Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I down an entire pint in one sitting. Yeah, I know, that’s a ton of sugar and fat. But I don’t care! Don’t judge me! Cheat day remember?
Recently, Vermont’s Finest introduced a series of “Core” combinations. These pints consist of two ice cream flavors separated by a column of fudge, caramel or fruit running down the center. The idea being that each spoonful can be a different flavor combination.
As a Ben & Jerry’s fan, having tried just about every flavor they currently make, as well as a few they discontinued and some of the limited batches, I was excited to check out all the Core offerings. Not so excited with the results. Here they are in order of best to worst.
Peanut Butter Fudge Core was my absolute favorite! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. Chocolate ice cream on one side and peanut butter ice cream on the other. BOTH with chunks of peanut butter cups in them. And the core center is a peanut butter fudge. Very satisfying and delicious! Both ice creams had rich flavor and the amount of PB cup chunks was just right! The fudge core had a nice balance of peanut butter and chocolate flavoring and it wasn’t too thick.
Karamel Sutra has been part of the Ben & Jerry’s lineup for quite sometime, but it got the core treatment. The chocolate ice cream half is filled with chunks of fudge chips. The other half is a smooth caramel flavor. The caramel swirls found in the traditional Karamel Sutra pints have been replaced with a soft caramel core. I liked this flavor as well. The caramel wasn’t overly sweet, which was nice. Although, it didn’t seem to satisfy quite like the Peanut Butter Fudge Core.
My feelings are a bit jammed with That’s My Jam. The chocolate ice cream and raspberry ice cream with fudge chips is nice, but I’m not a big fan of raspberry because raspberry flavorings always have seeds. I hate the seeds! And the raspberry core in this pint was no exception. On top of that, the core had a somewhat odd aftertaste. A phenomenon I’d find in the next two flavors as well. For the most part, That’s My Jam was fine. But I don’t see myself ever buying it again. Maybe if it were strawberry?
In fourth place is Salted Caramel Core. I liked Karamel Sutra, so I liked this one too right? Nope, I didn’t like this one. The salted caramel core was waaaaay too salty. It was so salty it burned my throat. Plus, it also had a similar weird aftertaste I mentioned before. The blonde brownie pieces were too small. They were more like bits, barely big enough to even taste. Unlike the other flavors, Salted Caramel Core only has one flavor of ice cream all the way around, sweet cream. I don’t really like sweet cream ice cream either. So this pint failed to impress.
And in last place is Hazed & Confused. I was INCREDIBLY disappointed with this one. I had such high hopes for the “Chocolate & Hazelnut Ice Creams with Fudge Chips & a Hazelnut Fudge Core”. I’d seen one website describe the core as tasting like Nutella… I don’t know what Nutella they’re eating, but this tasted NOTHING like Nutella. It was a bizarre chemical taste and an even worse aftertaste. Could it be a bad batch? Perhaps, but that’s highly unlikely. And I know Ben & Jerry’s pride themselves on using real ingredients and nothing artificial, but that’s exactly how this tasted. The core’s gross flavor completely overpowered everything ruining the entire experience. I think the hazelnut ice cream would would work better if it had pieces of hazelnut in it too. Nothing is going to save the core though, except maybe a contract deal with Nutella to use it instead.
So in the end, I would only buy one of these flavors again, and that’s the Peanut Butter Fudge Core. The cores in both that one and the Karamel Sutra tasted pretty good. The other three did not. Lets get rid of them and bring back the recently canceled — and still my favorite — Dublin Mudslide!
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!”
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