Author's observations of podcasting, learning outcomes for digital storytelling and recording podcasts in the Marriott Library's Audio Studio


  • Smile Jamaica - Podcasting before it was called podcasting
  • What is podcasting?
  • How podcasts enhance learning
  • Best practices & bad habits of podcasts
  • Podcasting potential in the Marriott Library's Audio Studio

Ben Hammersly, The Guardian; Feb. 12, 2004:

With the benefit of hindsight, it all seems quite obvious. MP3 players, like Apple's iPod, in many pockets, audio production software cheap or free, and weblogging an established part of the internet; all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio.

But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? Guerilla Media?

Smile Jamaica - Jurassic Era Podcasting

Robert J. Nelson

  • Associate Librarian, Head of Media Studios - Marriott Library; 1994-
  • Host of Reggae Radio show Smile Jamaica on KRCL 90.9 FM; 1989-
  • Hosted political interview program, Radioactive on KRCL 90.9 FM; 2003-2012



Smile Jamaica's experience in pre-podcasting/digital archives

  • Circa 2002: upload .mp3s of individual Smile Jamaica shows to KRCL webpage for stream or download

  • Promote through personal email list and Usenet discussion group: Rec.Music.Reggae: link to Smile Jamaica page

  • Hosted until the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) enforcement required KRCL to shut down streams over copyright infringement.  Circa 2005.

The DMCA criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet (Wikipedia DMCA entry)


Digital Archive/Podcast insights


Goal: How to get listeners world wide to consume Smile Jamaica if they don't live in Northern Utah to hear the show live on terrestrial radio?

  1. On-Demand media democratization - podcasts are usually free

  2. Digital media utility - listeners can listen on their time, not my time

  3. Market to target audience - why Smile Jamaica? A music archive for Reggae music collectors/obsessives. All vinyl or cd. No digital

  4. Storytelling imperative - no stories on Itunes Music, Pandora, Spotify, Prime

  • History Major

  • Reggae collector & radio deejay

  • Librarian

What Is Podcasting?

Etymology of the word podcasting, circa 2004: 

A mash-up of the IPod, Apple's pre-Smartphone digital music player + "casting" as in radio /television broadcasting

MTV Veejay Adam Curry - inventor of the podcast



Oxford English Dictionary definition

A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.


Podcast Example - Smile Jamaica

A “digital audio file”: podcasts can be composed of music - as in a typical terrestrial radio broadcast like Smile Jamaica ; or it can be talk – as you might hear on National Public Radio


"Made available via the Internet” in a digital format as opposed to physical audio-visual mediums like the compact disc, vinyl record or cassette audio tape

“Download to a computer or mobile device". Played via computer, smart phone or tablet. Traditional media players would include: radios, compact disk players, cassette decks or record turntables; i.e. devices that play either a physical medium or broadcast over airwaves

"Typically available as a series”. Episodic media where the subscriber is alerted to new installments from the podcast producer(s) via an alert generated from automated email lists or social media venues

“Automation”, in this instance, refers to the passive act of receiving notice of on-demand media for immediate or future consumption and/or re-distribution via social media. I.e. favorites, re-posts, re-Tweets.



Podcasting Demographics

Edison Research - The Infinite Dial 2018

  • 2018 % Listening to Online Radio in last month: 180 million (64%)

  • Ages 12-24 (88%) - Jr. High through Undergraduate student demographic: receptive to digital instruction 

  • Ages 25-54 (73%) - Professional demographic: receptive to marketing, academic, journalist, continuing education potential of podcasting 

  • Ages 55+ (33%) - 

Oral HIstory, Podcasts, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

Oral history in the classroom (K. Walbert, Learn NC):

Seven Hallmarks of Oral History and enhanced student learning outcomes

  1. Oral history can help students learn new historical content.

  2. Oral history can help students learn research skills.

  3. Oral history can support good writing skills.

  4. Oral history can teach students valuable critical thinking skills.

  5. Oral history can help all students feel included.

  6. Oral history can help students feel a personal connection to the past and to the life of their community.

  7. Oral history can help students develop valuable interpersonal skills.

Professional Research shows:

  • Explosive growth of On Demand media offerings and consumption. Target rich environment for digital education content.

  • Increase in class participation; esp. among ESL students.

  • Increase critical reflection.

  • Increase media literacy.

Described outcomes:

  • Digital format assignments were well received by the students.

  • Educators’ learning objectives were met.

  • Increase in literacy skills.

  • High level of student enthusiasm and satisfaction.

<Arabic Promo for Smile Jamaica - assignment for COMM 5550>


Best Practices & Bad Habits of Podcasts

6 Best Habits of a Podcast

1. Be brief - Try to stay below 30 minutes; or make multiple shows out of one recording. "I have time for 28 minutes, but 32 minutes is too long."

2.  Sound quality is important. In a saturated market, listeners won't listen to bad sound.

Invest in a Snowball mic. When recording: avoid windows, dogs, cars, crying babies and air conditioner vents.



3. Interviewing is a skill. Write samples questions that start with:

<Robert's Libguide for Interviewing for Research>


  • Who? -  who are you?

  • What? - what is your purpose for this podcast?

  • Where? - where are you from?

  • When? - when did you start podcasting?

  • How? - how are you promoting your podcast?

Avoid "did" or "do" and other leading questions

"Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Aliens to win the White House? - You are looking for validation to your viewpoint.


4. Start or record an intro for your podcast content. Who you are, who are you talking with, any other unique info that would entice listeners to your podcast.

             Listeners are fickle. Hook them in the first minute, so they don't switch to something else.

5. Social Media Marketing plan: Why your podcast out of thousands? Why would a listener choose yours? 

  • Facebook & Twitter

  • Blogs & Tags

  • Podcast sites like Itunes, Mixcloud, Soundcloud and Podbean

6. Cultivate your audience: Organic growth of your podcast streams comes through regular, consistent output of new episodes. Focus on weekend listeners.

***Approximately 2/3 of the weekly Smile Jamaica stream counts take place between Friday morning through Sunday evening



5 Bad Habits

  1. Don't talk over your guests. Practice active listening interview techniques.

  2. If your podcast is more conversational than interview, avoid inside jokes or dialog that might make your listener feel excluded.

  3. Do not use a USB microphone. Invest in a hands free, tripod mounted microphone like the Snowball

  4. If you are using a smartphone or digital recorder, record 20 seconds of room noise or ambient quiet so you can noise reduce your edit. Learn how to edit sound.

  5. Don't be monotone. Don't mumble. Enunciate. Engage your listeners with your voice.

Audio Tips for Podcasts

Audio rule of thumb:

  • Peaks (your loudest moments: laughter, exclamatory utterances) should be at -1db.

  • Average sound meter should read between -12db and -9db

  • Avoid clipping - "going into the red"

Podcasting in the Audio Studio

Contact Robert J. Nelson for a consultation/tour

  1. Become vetted for unmediated Audio Studio access to record your podcast.

  2. Become trained on use of the microphones and digital recorder.

  3. Negotiate to be placed on a regular podcast recording schedule. 7 days a week including after hours availability.

  4. Individual podcast recording is also possible.


Coda - Focus on Story

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