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TMCNet:  Thanks to technological advances, a few plugs and buttons, getting yourself on the air is easier said and done every day

[October 13, 2010]

Thanks to technological advances, a few plugs and buttons, getting yourself on the air is easier said and done every day

Oct 13, 2010 (The Beaumont Enterprise - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It's partly cloudy on Monday afternoon.

Kendall Barrow, a broadcast journalism junior at Lamar, has just finished his last class and is going to produce his sports talk radio show. But Barrow isn't heading to a studio at a radio station.

He's simply heading to a quiet room somewhere on campus.

He doesn't need much to produce his podcast.

"All I have to do is call in via my phone," Barrow said.

Using only his phone and a laptop, Barrow is able to produce a talk show that will be heard by hundreds.

Anyone with an Internet connection and access to Blog Talk Radio can download one of his ready-to-go shows.

With its first known use in 2001, Merriam-Webster defines a podcast as a music or talk program made in digital format for Internet download. There now are millions available online, with topics ranging from politics and education to music, news and sports.

Byron Balentine, KVLU station manager, said the appeal for this form of media is that it is radio "on demand." Most radio listening and TV watching essentially is "done by appointment," he said.

"If you were wanting to hear a certain type of information, you had to listen in at a certain time," Balentine said.

With podcasts, listeners can listen to their favorite programs at their convenience.

Many people who listen to Barrow's program chose to download it and listen later, even though he streams his show live.

"I probably get about 300 listens off of the recordings," Barrow said.

Podcasts not only appeal to listeners because of when they can tune in, but also from where they can hear there favorite shows.

That's what appeals to Danny Baxter Jr., 41, of Nome, who listens to podcasts from Michael Berry's Houston based talk show. Baxter said the audio quality usually is better than AM radio, and he doesn't have to worry about being in the reception range of the station.

This aspect has been taken advantage of by another local podcast producer, John "Johnny Max" McKissack of Vidor.

McKissack, 48, produces a podcast from his home with his wife Tammy "the Queen" and friend Raymond "Raybo" Marlow. The program draws around 10,000 listeners per episode.

Their show, "Beer Talk Radio," is not only downloaded by listeners in the United States, but also Australia, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

"We even have people downloading our show from the Seychelles Islands," in the Indian Ocean, McKissack said.

Balentine said what really determines the success of a podcast is the content.

"If it's good programming, it does not matter where it goes once it hits the mail room," Balentine said.

Beer Talk Radio lives up to its name. McKissack said he believes his show has gotten so popular because beer is a popular topic.

On the show they often give recipes for beers that can only be purchased in the United States, as well as discuss and review other brands -- giving his show an international appeal. The ability to filter through topics at discretion is another popular podcasts afeature.

"I can pause and replay something that grabs my attention," Baxter said.

Podcasts can be very simple and inexpensive to produce.

Balentine said access to technology is what has made the production quite easy to do. " At one time, in order to put together what (radio stations) do, you would need thousands of dollars worth of equipment," Balentine said.

"These days a person with a microphone, tape recorder or the cost of computer plus a few dollars can go out and do the equivalent." Barrow only uses a phone and his laptop. The host he uses provides a software that allows him to chat with live listeners and manage his production.

McKissack began producing his show with just his laptop.

He has since upgraded to the "Brew-Crazy" studio.

"We've got a mixer, we've got amps, we've got a 42-inch flat screen TV on the wall which is our monitor and a computer on it and we belly up to a bar," McKissack said.

After a podcast is made, it simply needs to be uploaded somewhere online with access to potential users.

Barrow posts links to his recordings on various social networking sites like Facebook, and all previously recorded shows are available on his Blog Talk Radio website. "Beer Talk Radio" is available on iTunes.

To see more of The Beaumont Enterprise, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.www.beaumontenterprise.com/. Copyright (c) 2010, The Beaumont Enterprise, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com, e-mail services@mctinfoservices.com, or call 866-280-5210 (outside the United States, call +1 312-222-4544).

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