Following up on the earlier podcast discussion, I think it worth challenging those artisans who craft online ham radio content — and those who aspire to do it — to imagine better ways to share the things they are driven to share.
The format for many ham radio podcasts are as predictable as a 40 meter CW QSO. Intro music, a monologue, an interview, then music to take it all out. It’s a formula stolen from a 1969 version of the Merv Griffin Show and it’s tired.
Thanks to the magic of Skype, the format of many of the newer ham radio podcasts are interviews with interesting people. Some of these have been very good — but that doesn’t feel like a long-term plan. After all, how many truly interesting people have a radio license — and once there are a dozen such podcasts, the number of “interesting” people divided by twelve is going to quickly make for slim pickings.
I believe that one of the problems with crafting good content these days is that bandwidth has become free. That seems like a bonus, but it only encourages programs to run on endlessly with no urgency whatsoever to conclude. Some programs already run 1-2 hours and more. Trust me, nobody, and I mean nobody wants to see or hear you drone on for more than an hour each week.
(If you disagree, get some help with your narcissism problem before you get back to the microphone and camera).
Putting a limit on the length of your content will force you to stick to a script and focus on relevant topics. Think of Twitter. At first the limited text space felt terribly constrained — but the best users of that network have long since figured out how to communicate effectively in that limited space.
Consider hard stops — like five or ten minutes and then create content that fits perfectly in that space. “The Five Minute Antenna Podcast” is just waiting to be produced! Of course that will be more difficult — that’s why excellent content is the Unobtanium of our time.
If you harbor the delusion that creating content is “easy” you need to seriously reconsider your commitment to this endeavor and move along.
Beyond just the delivery, podcast artisans should look at various mediums for delivery of their message. For instance, you only need to produce video if you have something that needs to be seen. Video is excellent for showing people how to do something. It’s completely unnecessary if you simply plan to talk.
Let me say this again, nobody wants to stare at your face for an hour. They do it (talk into a camera) on television because they are pretty, wear short skirts, and because it’s television — they have no other option. Podcasters have options and creating audio is the wise thing to do if you plan to simply talk.
Have you ever seen the Instagram program 15sectech? It launched when Instagram began allowing users to post 15 second long video clips. The forward-thinking, tech savvy producers of that program craft 15 second tech tips and product recommendations. It’s a unique format and one that would work very well in the world of amateur radio.
I thought of this immediately when Don Keith, N4KC released his book of ham radio jargon — The Amateur Radio Dictionary. The 15 second format would be perfect for each word or phrase and any one of us can find an excellent use for it too.
If you create online ham radio content, consider yourself challenged. I don’t hate what you’re doing, I just want it to be better. I want you to think, stretch, and imagine new ways to educate, inform and promote the world’s greatest hobby.