Doing Impossible Things

Via Doug Kaye’s weblog, I saw a reference to Phil Windley’s newly minted podcast. I haven’t heard it yet, but I subscribed and will probably listen tomorrow.

Phil notes that it took him 4 hours to do this when he could have written it up in 20 minutes. Well, OK, it is his first time and he’s learning the tools. Here’s where he lost me, though:

Recording is hard because when something goes wrong, pretty much the only choice is to start again. You can’t easily go back and change one sentence or remove a mispronunciation (at least I can’t).

What the? I do this every time I ever record one. In fact, in tonight’s episode I removed about 4 minutes of coughs, stammers and false starts into topics that I decided to abandon. That’s over 10% of the final result. This suggests that the real core is in the last part, the “at least I can’t” bit. I’m curious to find out what Phil’s setup is. Is he using a tool that doesn’t have a waveform editor? If so, he could easily use Audacity for free anytime and would have that capability. Or, is this just a case of failing to RTFM? Folks, you can in fact edit the audio, remove mispronounciations or even insert new sentences in place of burbled or erroneous ones. I do it all the time and even was doing all of this back in 1997, when I edited Reality Break every week on my 200 MHz Mac Performa 6400 with SoundEdit Pro.

As y’all know, I’ve been beating the drum of democratization of this medium since I got in it. I resist it when people make statements like “there are too many podcasts” or suggest that not everyone should do them. I think anyone willing to put in the minimal sweat equity should have a voice. That’s why Phil’s statement makes me really itchy. I worry that the seed that gets planted in the heads of his readers will be “podcasting is hard, I must steer clear because you can’t even edit the audio!” and not “Hmmm, maybe Phil doesn’t yet know what he’s talking about.”

Update: I listened to Phil’s post and it was really good. I liked what he said. There was some roughness in the delivery where it sounded like he was reading off of a paper, but that’s just something that will come with time. Just like writing them, speaking your thoughts is a skill that improves with practice. The quality of his cast is good, now we just need to get Phil using the tools properly and to stop spreading misinformation about them!

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.