My 15 Years As A Podcaster

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(By Bruce Carlson) This August, my podcast My History Can Beat Up Your Politics hit a significant milestone. 15 years. That’s not a typo. At least one episode posted monthly for the last 15 years.

My History Can Beat Up Your Politics is a podcast that uses history to examine and compare to the events of today. In the process we tell stories about political history, usually with a U.S. focus. It’s a perfect supplement to the tenor of some of today’s political debates and the kind of light treatment history gets in the news. It’s launch [on a desktop and a phone line] was July 30, 2006, with an episode about the Bush administration and their dealings with a NY Times reporter around an Iraq War story, and comparing that to actions taken by Theodore Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln in their presidencies.

We wanted to tell people what seemed new in politics wasn’t so new. Presidents get attacked in the press. George Washington did – he compared his treatment to that of a Nero or a thief, and it’s part of the reason he retired, according to his letters.

Things have been real partisan and divided in the past too – during the Civil War a Congressman attacked a Senator with a cane. People know that story but there was also a fight over the speakership that ended in a rumble on the House floor, until the Sargent at Arms used the actual Mace of The House of Representatives to quell it.

There were a lot of podcasts around in the beginning. And big names too like Dan Carlin, This Week in Technology, Skepticality and others that were already established when I launched my show. But only some of them lasted beyond about 2009, that seemed to be a drop-off point. Perhaps it was the recession, perhaps it’s enough time for younger folks who were enamored with the podcasting concept in 2004 and 2005 to develop other professional or familial responsibilities.

I launched my podcast on a noisy Dell desktop, really a “tower” and a Radio Shack microphone that picked up the whole room. Episodes were uploaded on a phone line – usually I’d put them up while I went to sleep. We’ve grown since then. Chris Matthews, Dennis Kucinich, Sidney Blumenthal, C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb and Susan Swain, Richard Bey from The Richard Bey Show and many other guests have appeared on the program. We are now a part of Airwave Media Podcast Network along with Mark Bitman, Legends of the Old West, Brian Manning, Ben Franklin’s World and others.

My advice to new podcasters:
– Whatever time you think the podcast is going to take, triple it. It’s daily work.
– People are part of a podcast and public relations is part of it. You are in a booth for recording but your podcast lives outside. You’ll have to spend time responding to people.
-Work on sound quality, but you don’t have to be an engineer. Good content first, then sound.
-Pick a niche topic. As I like to say, it’s not about a podcast on hockey, it’s a podcast on goalies.
-Don’t mimic radio or television. Do things that can’t be done there or aren’t done there. Get unusual guests, cover unusual topics. Spark interest.
– Even if it’s not a self-help podcast, remember you are helping people. On long drives, doing chores or working you are brightening their day.
– Don’t look at stats and don’t look at reviews. Do respond to feedback from real people who speak to you.

Give my show a listen HERE.

Reach out to Bruce by e-mail at brucecarlson201@yahoo.com

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