ARCast.TV - Change Your Life By Podcasting with Carl Franklin

The Discussion

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    Man 1: It's Friday, October 12, 2007 and you're watching ARCast.TV with Ron Jacobs.
    Ron Jacobs: Hey, welcome back to ARCast.TV. This is your host, Ron Jacobs, and today we're going to talk about something that's kind of a little offbeat. You know, a little different than your typical ARCast show. But we're going to talk about something that's changed my life, might change your life, and changed the life of somebody else I know: Carl Franklin of ".NET Rocks!"

    Now when I was down in Orlando at Tech Head US, I had a chance to grab Carl. We're always bumping into each other at these things, and Carl is around recording ".NET Rocks!" shows and doing his thing, and I'm often there recording ARCast and speaking at events as well. So I saw Carl and I said "Dude, c'mere, c'mere, let's record a quick podcast. It's only eleven minutes long. It does not talk about architecture, OK?" But we're just talking about podcasts, podcasting, how he got started, and, you know, it's an interesting talk, what can I say?

    But wait, there's one more thing. In celebration of our two year anniversary of ARCast we made a little fun promotional video, so check that out and then we'll go to Orlando and hear from Carl Franklin.

    [sound of film projector starting up]

    [short beep]
    Man 2: My name's Gar McCrista and I'm from Dublin, and I like Cark [laughter]

    [short beep]
    Man 3: [laughing] Take two!

    [short beep]
    Man 2: Hi, my name's Gar McCrista, I'm from Dublin, and I like ARCast because it's a great way to pick up information really quick.

    [music starts: Blur's "Song 2"]
    Man 4: [over the introduction of the song, soft rhythmic drums and electric guitar] Oh, man, I'm so hungry, I need some dinner. Ah! Tuna!

    [sound of electric can opener operating]

    Oh yeah, mayo, got to get some mayo.

    [sound of refrigerator opening]

    D'oh! We're outta mayo! Oh great, and now I've got an open can of tuna.

    If only there were transactions in real life.


    [song moves into a loud segment, with heavy guitars, strong drum rhythm, and a wildly shouted "Woooo Hoooo"]


    [song continues to end]
    Ron: Hey, welcome back to ARCast.TV, and today I'm here at Tech Head in Orlando where I'm joined by fellow podcaster and co-host of.NET Rocks, Carl Franklin. Hey, welcome, Carl.
    Carl: Thank you, Ron.
    Ron: It's so funny because we run into each other at these events now and then and you guys have been podcasting for forever and a day.
    Carl: Since before podcasting really. Since 2002.
    Ron: Wow and I remember kind of seeing your show and thinking "what's that?" but it's really done well hasn't it?
    Carl: Yeah, at first we didn't know--we had no idea what was coming of course but I've always been a fan of public radio--PRI or NPR or whatever. There are a whole bunch of shows on the radio that are done like this. Like Science Friday is a great one. They're always talking to somebody about technical stuff and of course it's not going to be a huge audience. It's a niche audience. So I thought, "let's do something like that." My medium is the Internet and audio, so I just made MP3s and people were downloading them. There were like 200 downloads for the first couple of weeks, just emailing my friends and really we never had to do any advertising or anything and it just grew.
    Ron: That's amazing. So you just kind of started this out of the clear blue.
    Carl: Absolutely. It was just something I--first of all I'm an audio guy right? I'm an audio engineer and I'm a musician so I like creating the music beds and it gave me an excuse and all that stuff, so it gave me a great reason to write off all that equipment.
    Ron: [laughs] There you go.
    Carl: But that wasn't the real reason of course. So I always just wanted to merge all these things that I do into one big project and I didn't know that I would be getting out of doing teaching which is what I was doing at the time. I had no idea that I would one day give that up to do this.
    Ron: So were you like teaching.NET or...?
    Carl: Yeah, I was doing hands on training in.NET and I built a training company around that so now that training company is going on and we're getting other people in other classes and going and doing on sites and things but I personally had to stop doing it because if you're doing a five day class you know you can't even do one show a week let alone five or six.
    Ron: Yeah, wow. You know, I think it's interesting when you talk about the training angle because one of the reasons I started ARCast was because I was working with people who were architects and they were like, "well there are so many new things coming and I don't have time to learn about this stuff" and "I can't keep up with all the latest trends" so it seemed like rather than saying "I'm going to go get a big dose of something one week" if you just kind of weekly listen to a program or two you can keep up with things.
    Carl: Yeah, and we also didn't have any idea that people would start downloading them and burning CDs and listening to them in their cars. But I think that's the real secret of podcasts' allure is the fact that people commute and the commute is the number one place where people listen to podcasts. It's the number one place.
    Ron: Which is true. I remember when I first started this listening to an expert talk about the time that people have and how busy they are and people don't have time for this and they don't have time for that, but there was one amount of time that was growing. It was commute time.
    Carl: It's growing. That's right. As cities expand and suburbs expand people sometimes have a two-hour commute. Easy.
    Ron: Yeah, and I hear people say "I listen while I'm on the train" or "I listen while I'm in the car." What surprised me was how many people like the video podcasts.
    Carl: We were just talking about this before the cameras were rolling.
    Ron: Yeah, Yeah. I use to say we're on audio only because we're not that good looking. [laughs]
    Carl: That's right. I have a face made for radio!
    Ron: Yeah, Yeah.
    Carl: Which is a clich in the radio business. Nobody wants to hear that anymore, but it's so true. Well, Channel Nine is a testament to how well video works I guess in podcast form.
    Ron: I've had people say--I had one guy send me an email from Cuba. He said "I don't get to go to Tech Ed. I don't get to go to these things but I can listen to your show and it feels almost like I'm there."

    I think people have reached out to the virtual community in a sense. Maybe they live in a place where there isn't a great.NET user group or something like that. So they connect this way.
    Carl: I get the same thing about dnrTV which is more about training than it is about podcasting. dnrTV is something we do where we always wanted to be able to show people the code. Of course it's audio, so we do a Camtasia screencast where you get the same audio that you get in.NET Rocks. It's me talking to the person as an interview, but at the same time we can both write code. They can show things and I can ask questions as a proxy for the listener for the viewer. We've gotten a lot of emails recently that people watch this at lunch with a group.
    Ron: Ah, OK.
    Carl: A "Lunch and learn" kind of thing. Part of it is growing and I get emails all the time from people who say they can't--not only are they remote, they are not able to travel to places--they don't have the funds. They don't have the money to do it.
    Ron: Oh, yeah.
    Carl: So they don't have the money to have a personal trainer or go to a big training class for a week. So it really works out.
    Ron: Then there is a guy you and I both know, Scott Hanselman.
    Carl: Oh, Scott, he's a dynamo.
    Ron: Isn't He? He's hilarious.
    Carl: Amazing, Scott Hanselman.
    Ron: I was saddened that he couldn't be here this week. That was a bummer. In fact he and I were going to do a pre-conference session together. I had to do all six hours, "Thanks, Scott!" [laughs] But no, it's fine. I love his show. How did you guys get started doing that?
    Carl: First of all, Scott Hanselman and I met at an RD summit, I think was 2003. It was a PDC or a Tech Ed or one of those things where the RDs got together. I was sitting across from him at dinner, and I said, "You are a smart man. This is somebody I want to talk to more." So we got into this conversation that went from software to mythology, this all encompassing thing.

    He became one of the earliest guests on.NET Rocks. Over the time I started reading his blog. He's just a dynamo. When I say dynamo, he is.
    Ron: Yeah.
    Carl: He has the best blog post. He's thorough; he's fair about everything that he does. I asked him if he wanted to do this show about him because, here's the thing, and it was Tech Ed 2005, maybe? He was riding around on a Segway. Podcasting was like this big thing in 2005. Someone was interviewing me about podcasting and he drives through the frame on the Segway and goes "Podcasting sucks. Podcasting sucks." It's like Green Eggs and Ham. Turns out, what he really meant to say was "Pod casts suck." Not "Podcasting."

    He went and he listened to what people were doing. He was just horrified by the lack of content and the "Hey, we're podcasting" attitude that seems to be so prevalent. When I asked him, do you want to do this? He says, "OK, but no fluff, all business. Let's just knock it out."
    Ron: Yeah.
    Carl: Great, that sounds great. It's different than DNR and it's all him. That white noise you're hearing is rain hitting the roof.
    Ron: I know. It's like a major storm here. The thing--from time to time I get people who say to me, "Hey, Ron, I'm going to do a podcast. Do you have any advice for me?" I'm sure you get this all the time. Right?
    Carl: All the time. Like where do I start? [laughs]
    Ron: I think most people really underestimate the commitment it takes to do this on a regular basis. Don't you?
    Carl: Not only to come up with content, but the production part of it is particularly hard and deceptively difficult. I think a lot of people think that audio is just there. Because it is for most people. It's just there, it's everywhere. You turn on the radio, the TV, the audio's good, and it's clean. It's there without realizing somebody did a little bit more than stick a microphone in somewhere.
    Ron: Oh yeah, I've had to learn a heck of a lot about audio as many of my listeners can attest to. When I mess it up I get all kinds of complaints about it. If it were possible, I would just hire pros like we have here to just do it for me all the time, but I don't get that.
    Carl: When you find out what pros charge, Oh my god! We're actually going to--and I've been asked this a lot--as you know, I've turned podcasting into a company. That does podcasting services and its audio services. I call it podcasting services because it does include RSS and all those things. It's really audio post production that we do mostly.

    One thing we're not doing is like going out and recording for people. That's going to be a big waste of time for us. I've decided to document our entire production process and recording process and just give it away for free.
    Ron: Ah, there you go.
    Carl: So you are going to see something online fairly soon in video form that shows us going through the entire process of selecting microphones. What are the different situations under which you would record? How do I get a good signal? How do I process the audio so that it's nice and loud, that it doesn't distort, that it's clean, no noise, separating, EQ, all of these things?
    Ron: Wow.
    Carl: We're going to show--basically people are going to say, "I don't want to do that." But for those that think they can and want to, it's a service we can give away, that information.
    Ron: That's great.
    Carl: There's way more need for people to be able to do it than there is work that we could possibly get out of it.
    Ron: Well, that would be fantastic. I would love it because I really feel ignorant sometimes. I'm an architect. I don't know anything audio engineering. I look at all these gizmos on the software.
    Carl: Most content providers are the same way. The have the content and they want to do it themselves.
    Ron: Yeah [laughs]
    Carl: It's true.
    Ron: Well, I just thought we keep running into each other, we've never done this, and people like to have a little change of pace sometimes, so why not?

    We're here at Tech Ed thinking about podcasting. Thanks so much Carl for being on ARCast.
    Carl: And thanks for our universes colliding. Real fun.

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    Ron: all right. We'll see you next time from Tech Ed.

    That was really great fun just hearing about Carl. Man, started in 2002, there's something, some kind of big advantage of being an early adopter of things and being a first mover.

    I'm always amazed as I speak to people that become relatively well-known people like Martin Fowler or Jeffery Richter, or other people who have been on ARCast.TV. I'm amazed at how they got started. Often it's by writing a book, becoming a great blogger or something like that. You want to stand out. You've got brilliant ideas. The world's got to hear them some way.

    Who knows, you could be the next big famous guy, right? One way you can learn a lot and stick around over many years is by staying informed. Lifelong learning is the key and that's why we do ARCast.TV. Hope you're enjoying it. See you next time!

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