A good friend of mine has been working on building up his own personal brand online, and he is focusing more on the audio medium than I ever did. While he does blog, his passion seems to come through much more when he is working on the VineCast, a podcast dedicated to Newsvine.
Could you please introduce yourself, what you do, and where people can find you online?
Sure. My name is Brad Leclerc. I’ve been blogging on and off pretty much since the advent of blogging, but didn’t try to make any money at it until pretty recently when I starting writing on TVGawker, and to a smaller degree, SolarHype. I’m also very active in the Newsvine.com community (you can find my account at brad-leclerc.newsvine.com) which is probably what started me thinking that there may be a way to get my online hobbies working for me to pay my bills, thanks to their revenue sharing system. I’m hoping that within another year or so (or less!) I’ll have enough fairly stable income from online sources to completely avoid a “traditional” job altogether and focus on my online projects, such as the VineCast, my newest project…and first podcast.
And that is the main reason I am interviewing you today, you have been working hard on bringing back the long dead podcast series the VineCast. Can you tell me a bit about the VineCast and your involvement with it?
The Vinecast was started originally about 2 years ago by a Newsvine user (or Viner, as I would usually say) who goes by the name “Dom Pody”, and others, and was setup like as a round-table discussion about Newsvine.com, be it news or articles posted to the site, or “meta” topics about Newsvine itself by an assortment of always changing panel members (a bit like Leo Laporte’s “This Week in Tech”, with less production value hehe). They came out with a new episode every few weeks, including one in which I was a panel member), and then it sorta dissolved away due to the people involved “having a life”, so to speak.
I tried reviving interest in it a couple times, and there were a fair amount of people who wanted more episodes, but no one really ready to take the reins, and at the time I was still working full time and didn’t have the time to do it myself either. That’s changed recently as I shift more and more of my focus on online endeavors, and so I basically said “Screw it, I’m bringing this baby back, and better than ever!”. Being friends with Dom, he gladly transferred the original domain to me (http://www.thevinecast.com), and I began to work out just how I was going to make it happen. Got myself a co-host(Viki Gonia), and started sending out invites to be on the panel to all the Viners I can stand to talk to. As of now I’m doing all the recording/editing and everything else beyond the actual podcast, which I happily share with Viki, and whoever else is around on recording day.
Why start a podcast around a community driven news site?
Why not? Really though, it’s the 21 century, what’s a community without a podcast? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the only newsvine related podcast, but all the others focus on one persons column. A sorta recap of the things they personally have written or seeded (linked to) on Newsvine. The Vinecast is different. It’s about everything Newsvine has to offer. We talk about what other Viners are talking about, including taking suggestions and requests to try to get certain Viners on the panel, or pimping a project a Viner is involved with, or talking about whatever drama is going on…it’s about more than just the news aspect of Newsvine. It’s about the people that use it.
How long have you been a Newsvine member and what do you think of its evolution over the last while, your thoughts on the MSNBC ownership would be especially enlightening?
I’ve been a member since January of ’06, while it was still in Beta, thanks to an invite from a good friend of mine. You may have heard of him, he runs a little site called XFEP. There have been a LOT of changes since then, some of the best was the addition of groups, customizable user columns, and editable comments (though the 5 minute limit on editing comments still gets me sometimes). The revenue sharing is always pretty nice.
My thoughts on the MSNBC ownership are long and complex, but basically I suppose it boils down to “it COULD be awesome, which a pile of serious changes…but as it stands it’s pissing a LOT of people off and causing a lot of grief for a good number of users”. On the next episode of the Vinecast we will be discussing the MSNBC situation at length, along with some of the by-products of the ownership change and flood of new users, so if you want a lot more detail, that will be out on Wednesday.
Can you tell me about the production of the podcast? What hardware and software do you use?
I have a dual-core AMD system I’m using as my primary (and amazingly my ONLY for the moment) desktop machine, and I’m doing all the recording/editing on that, using Skype with the “power gramo” extension, and Adobe Soundbooth. I really want to start upgrading a few things, like sending Viki a better mic, but for now at least, it’s pretty low budget stuff. I’ve really just been working with what I already had, the investment is just “time” at this point.
Could you tell me a little bit about the time line for producing an episode? How long does it take to record, edit, and publish each episode?
It takes about an hour to record (though the first episode was longer), another hour or so of editing and cleaning up the audio a bit if needed, and 20 minutes to setup a show notes articles on my Newsvine account, and setup the new entry to the podcast feed (pretty easy with WordPress and podpress). All that is typically done on Tuesday night, and I’ll send the audio to be embedded into the show notes article, since that’s not a public feature of Newsvine…yet. Then the next day I post the article live to Newsvine and add the podcast to the feed, and we’re off to the races, so to speak.
You always have others on the podcast, can you tell me how you pick co-hosts and any other details regarding those assisting you with the show?
Well, Viki has been a Newsvine friend of mine for quite some time, and after meeting her in person at a Vinemeet (a gathering of Newsvine users offline) a while back, I thought she’d make an excellent co-host for the Vinecast, and she agreed to fit it into her busy schedule because she’s just that awesome. The other guests are picked basically on a first come first serve basis unless something special is going on.
The Vinecast is supposed to be about the community, so any Viner that wants to participate is welcome to come on at some point(so long as I can stand them I suppose…and even if I can’t, that might make an interesting episode). We are trying to get differing opinions on things, so variety of guests is key. We also take requests from listeners about who we should have on, and contact anyone people seem interested to hear from to see if they’d join us for an episode.
How do you promote your podcast, and what do you think the hook or demographic of the VineCast is?
Right now it’s primarily promoted through Newsvine itself. The show-notes articles show up on the front page of Newsvine within a few minutes of posting, and any Viners following me, members of “the vinecast” group (found at thevinecast.newsvine.com), anyone following the “vinecast” tag in their watch list on Newsvine, and of course anyone subscribed to the RSS feed, find out about it instantly. I also have been sending out a message on twitter (my account is twitter.com/bradleclerc).
The demographic is obviously focused on users of Newsvine. We do discuss a lot of news that’s not necessarily related directly to Newsvine itself, so there is something for any news junky…but yeah, definitely aimed mostly at Viners, or people interested in what’s going on in the world of Newsvine.
Do you have any plans for the VineCast in the future? Will you be taking on other co-hosts, or listener questions in the future?
We gladly take listener requests and questions, and there is no shortage of guests I’m sure. As for the future, we may start taking live calls (or making them) during the recording, as well as recording the whole thing live with listeners able to chat with us and influence the show in more direct ways. It’s only been a month since I’ve revived the Vinecast, and it’s already begun to change…who knows what the future will bring. It’s all about what the listeners want really, it’s about the Newsvine community, they’ll be the ones dictating any major changes that occur.
If you had one suggestion for a podcaster just starting out, what would that suggestion be and why?
Learn by doing. I learned more about podcasting while recording/editing/publishing the first new episode of the Vinecast than I did listening to hundreds of other podcasts, reading about podcasting, watching videos about podcasting, etc. Jumping right in is really the faster, easiest, and most fun way to really come to grips with the process.
Oh, and record EVERYTHING, ya never know when ya might need/want to produce a blooper reel ;).
A huge thanks to Brad for answering these questions. If you are a fan of podcasting, Newsvine, or socially reported and promoted news in general, feel free to contact Brad through the VineCast.