Archive for the ‘iTunes’ Category

Cast Away: Park Rangers start Podcasting Adventure

Monday, August 4th, 2008
National Park Service

National Park Service

All across the country, park rangers are turning into podcasters. Hundreds of brief audio and video programs are up on park websites and on iTunes giving visitors a new national park experience. People can learn about park resources, take a guided tour, get help planning trips, and, best of all, meet actual rangers.

“While nothing can replace a personal experience in a national park, we think our podcasts will enhance people’s trips or give them the opportunity to learn about a park that they can’t visit,” said Mary A. Bomar, Director of the National Park Service. “Whether people download them to portable devices or watch them on their computers, these free electronic presentations give us another way to serve park enthusiasts of all ages.

Sample Audio Tour of The Everglades

Learn About Parks Many parks offer interpretive podcasts about wildlife, history, and topical issues like climate change and fire management. The most extensive collection of park podcasts is from Yellowstone National Park where they are reaching out to new and nontraditional audiences to spark an interest in visiting the park. The Inside Yellowstone series has more than 50 episodes, which are one to two minutes in length. More episodes are on the way.

“Our podcasts give people from every corner of the earth the chance to fall in love with Yellowstone and become its stewards for the future,” said George Heinz, one of the writers and on-screen personalities for the podcast series. The park has another online series called Yellowstone InDepth that presents mini-documentaries on subjects like volcanoes, invasive species, bears, and wolves.

Yosemite National Park launched a new monthly podcast called Yosemite Nature Notes. A printed publication of the same name began in the 1920s and existed for five decades. “Just like the earlier version of Nature Notes, our podcasts tell Yosemite’s stories from the perspective of the people who work here,” said Steve Bumgardner, videographer and producer at Yosemite National Park. “I like the idea that we’ve brought this institution back to life and that we use new media to put a personal face on the National Park Service.”

“My favorite podcast about Canyonlands National Park is the one on potholes,” said Carter, an 8-year-old visitor who watched all of the park’s podcasts before his trip. “It was so interesting to learn that tiny creatures are living in a bunch of dirt.” Carter’s sister Brooke, 11, appreciated knowing how to recognize cryptobiotic soils so she didn’t walk on the delicate crust. Their mother, Tiffani, thought the podcasts empowered her kids and said, “they loved being the experts and teaching us (their parents) what they learned while we walked around the park.”

Take a Guided Tour In addition to general information, podcasts are a great way to offer ranger-led tours of specific areas that people can enjoy on their own schedule. More and more people download guided tours onto their iPods or mp3 players prior to their national park trip. When they arrive, they literally have a ranger in the palm of their hand to guide them on a walking or driving tour.

At Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, people stop at overlooks along the South Rim Road and watch podcasts about geology, history, life, and recreation at those exact spots. Everglades National Park also has a car tour (audio only) that leads listeners on a guided exploration down the main park road. Four civil war battlefields – Gettysburg, Antietam, Petersburg, and Richmond – offer podcasts that allow you to walk or drive along as you listen to an NPS historian talk about decisive and dramatic battles.

Urban parks use podcast tours to reach local residents who may not know much about the parks they pass every day. For example, residents in Minneapolis and St. Paul can listen to information about Mississippi National River and Recreation Area while walking a four-mile loop near the river. Residents of Washington D.C. can download walking tours for Rock Creek Park and people in St. Louis can do the same for Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

Plan a Trip Visitors already use the internet to research park trips, but now podcasts make it more personal. “It’s a blast when visitors hear my voice and recognize me from the podcast,” said Elysha Iversen, Wilderness Visitor Use Assistant at Grand Canyon National Park. “It tells me that we actually reach people and help them plan their hikes before they get here.” Iversen and others record podcasts with important safety information about trail conditions. The park also offers hiking and river running orientation videos as podcasts and will soon, launch new podcasts about Leave No Trace to help people reduce their recreational impacts.

Glacier National Park offers videos online about hiking, and rangers say the programs speed up the backcountry permit process. “Rather than having to watch the video at the permit station which is required, more and more visitors have watched it online ahead of time,” said Bill Hayden, Interpretive Specialist.

Other parks help people plan trips with podcasts, too. Visitors can learn about recreational activities at Curecanti National Recreation Area, like fishing, hiking, and camping. Katmai National Park and Preserve has an audio podcast weaving together music, stories, and tips for reaching that remote wilderness area.

Take a Virtual Tour While not available for download like podcasts, virtual tours give people a park experience right on their home computer. For example, Clara Barton National Historic Site offers a virtual tour of Barton’s home, a building that served as the national headquarters for the American Red Cross. The tour allows visitors to navigate through all three levels of the house and gives access to images, text, and audio clips.

Acadia National Park has an eCruise along the rocky shores of Mount Desert Island and Glacier National Park offers eHikes that take visitors through stunning wilderness areas among glaciers, wildflowers, and bears. The experiences really have visitors buzzing. One man wrote, “I am a fighter pilot in Iraq…and it makes my day when I can take a hike in Glacier even if it’s from behind my computer.” A teacher from Michigan said, “the virtual hikes are awesome for a classroom project I am doing with my 5th graders.” And, another visitor remarked, “they are perhaps the next best thing to actually being there.”

New virtual tours are coming soon: Zion National Park will release an eHike for Angel’s Landing; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will launch eHikes that go through the Sierra Nevada foothills or among the giant sequoias; and the Statue of Liberty will provide an eTour covering Liberty Island, the inside of Lady Liberty, and a 360-degree view from her crown.

Some worry that creating podcasts and virtual tours about national parks may keep people, especially children, disconnected from the actual places. “Personally, I don’t think that people are going to give up on the real thing,” said Todd Edgar, Media Specialist at Acadia National Park. “After learning about parks from our online resources, people want to get outside and explore on their own.”

For many other national park podcasts and virtual tours, go to If a park unit offers online programs, you will find them by clicking on “Photos and Multimedia” in the left navigation bar of their homepage.


Podcasting has a Positive Effect on Radio Listening in UK

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Podcasting is seen to have a positive effect on radio listening, according to a study relased today in the UK. Rajar (Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd) released findings of its second survey into podcasting and radio listening via the internet. The findings were based on 863 respondents who were asked to complete an online questionnaire.

People were asked if they had ever listened to the radio stations via the internet and the study found that 14.5 million people had done so – up 2.5 million from 12 million in November 2007.

When asked if listening to podcasts effectived their radio listening, three quarters of those listeners said podcasting had no impact on the amount of live radio to which they listened. And almost half said they were listening to radio programs to which they did not listen to previously.

Six million people in the UK have downloaded a podcast, up from 4.3 million in the previous survey. iTunes remained the software of choice, used by almost three-quarters of podcast users to subscribe to podcasts.

Overall the study showed that Podcasting appeared to have a positive effect on live radio listening. Almost 15% of respondents said they listened to more live radio since they began downloading podcasts while 10% stated they listened to less, and 39% said they were listening to radio programs they did not listen to previously.

Podcast listening occurred throughout the day, with an evening peak, when 44% of podcast users pressed the play button. The survey also found that 53% of respondents said they would be interested in downloading podcasts containing advertising if they were free, while only 31% responded positively to the idea of podcasts with advertising that had to be paid for.

This study somewhat contridicts the long thought idea that podcasting is stealing the terrestrial radio listening audience. It appears that the opposite is occuring, and that podcasting is recondioning listeners to listen to audio programs and even introducing them to content that they previsously were unaware of.

I have always loved pairing radio with podcasting. Radio serves as an excellent promotional vehicle and provides an instant audience, where podcasting allows you to manage that audience as they subscsribe to your feed.


How will CBS’s New Digital Player Change Radio?

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Dan Mason, CBS Radio President and CEO and Matthew Pearce

Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio, and his crew rolled into San Francisco this week to talk about radio in the digital age. Mason told the crowd of mainly media buyers, radio personalities and sales executives that radio is still very much relevant in this new digital age. Mason also pointed out that the prediction of the demise of radio has a long history dating pack to the advent of the launch of TV. More recent forecasters have continued on with this theme, saying that 8-track tapes, cassettes, CD’s, satellite radio and iPod’s would kill radio. However, in this round of innovation, it seems that CBS plans on embracing the change as demonstrated in its launch of the new media player. The objective seems to be to target the 9-5 at work listening audience, who may not be able to receive a radio signal or bring a radio into their work space.

The player which will be marketed jointly with AOL seems to be ahead of the pack in web based media players. Now listeners will be able to listen to radio stations from around the country from a single radio station’s website. So if you are a music fan and you enjoy listening to Alice Radio in San Francisco, and you hear news of Elliott Sptizer, you can click over to CBS’s NYC news station, WCBS to get the low down.

But this is only one interesting feature of the player, which soon will have a Pandora-like feel to it. Listeners will be able to create their own radio station by typing in an artist and getting suggestions of other similar artists. The listener will then be able to easily rank the artists by dragging them closer to the start of the play list. If for instance, you are a big Springsteen fan, but hate the Eagles — you can ban the Eagles from ever playing on your station.

There are multiple benefits to advertisers with this new platform, as banner ads can now be contextually placed in the media player and synced with the content of the audio feed. For instance, if a music station is promoting a concert, a graphic could appear on the player during the ad or even when the talent talks about the concert.

I asked Mason about allowing advertiser generated content to be integrated in the player, and he said it’s open for discussion. I wondered if I could place some of the financial programs that I syndicate into the player, so a listener could create their own business talk radio station. All I can report right now is, stay tuned…


iTunes SEO

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I recently listened to a great podcast episode by one of the premier podcasting experts, about showing up in search results within iTunes. I’ll link to that episode at the end of this post, but its worth distilling the message here first.

Results whether they be in Google or iTunes are based on Relevancy and Authority. Within iTunes, relevancy works much the same way as in other search engines – how relevant is your content to the searched keyword. Using your keywords in your title, name, summary, and keyword tags make you relevant. All of these are indexed and searchable by iTunes.

Authority is based on how popular a podcast is. This is measured primarily by how many daily new subscribers a podcast has. That is, how many new people click the subscribe button on a daily basis for a podcast. This is how iTunes “ranks” a podcast. It is not based on how many total subscribers or how many unique downloads a podcast has and certainly doesn’t include how much of any of this occurs outside of the iTunes directory.

The other component to authority is ratings and reviews. The amount of positive “star” ratings, is an easy and great way to increase authority and search results when keyword searching within iTunes

Thanks Jason for that great bit!

iTunes SEO Podcast