If you've ever thought about making your own podcast, you'll want to listen to our next guest. Elling Lien is with Unpossible Newfoundland, they're the folks who run the annual RPM Challenge where you make an album in a month. Now for the month of September they're hosting something new — a podcast challenge. The CBC's Melissa Tobin spoke with Elling Lien in St. John's.
How would you define a podcast?
Podcasts? I love this definition... I just looked it up on Wikipedia. It is so flexible. "A podcast or, generally, a netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. Period. It's a series of audio or video files that people can find online. That's it.
All right. But there've got to be some parameters to help people know if they're on the right track. What are the parameters that you have for the Podcast Jam?
Well, for the month of September we're challenging people to record three episodes... So come up with an idea you know and find find or rent or buy a mic or some recording software for your computer or whatever... or maybe use your cell phone... Then you record something, post it online and do that three times in September and you will have successfully completed the challenge. You'll have won the challenge.
So this is all really about challenging yourself?
Exactly. Really, even if you don't end up with three episodes... Even if you just end up with one, or have spent that time thinking about something that you find out you really want to continue working on, or whatever, there's no real way to lose. It's just a fun thing that you can think about "What would I like to do? What would be interesting? What would I like to listen to?" And that's a really interesting exercise on its own.
I know with the RPM you help people when it comes to how to record and whatnot. What sort of supports are you going to be offering for the Podcast Jam?
Well we'll be sharing tutorials and will try to get as much information online as possible. We have a Facebook Group called "Podcast Jam" where people can ask each other questions to each other... because it's really about the community support as well. For a lot of people the reason they do the RPM Challenge isn't because we tell them to it. Of course it's because they want to, first of all, but also I think it's because people around them are doing it. They know someone who knows someone who's doing it, sort of thing. And with a Facebook group like this it just brings all those people together and they can mentor each other naturally. "How are you doing?" "Are you having any trouble with this?" or "This is this is how I solved this problem." We're also planning some workshops in September at the beginning of the month in St. John's and may put some of them online in podcast form so everybody in the province can enjoy them.
So you might make a podcast about how to make podcasts...? And are you thinking about doing your own podcast as well?
Yeah, I've been tossing around ideas. I haven't settled on anything quite yet, but one idea that's been sticking with me has been the idea of doing a podcast about fathers, about dads. Dads are fascinating to me, and complicated. I love my own dad even though he's passed away... My dad was Jon Lien, the whale researcher, that a lot of people across the province might know. He was a really prominent figure, and to have him as a dad was a really interesting and unique experience. He was unusual but he was still very typically dad-like in many ways. So yeah, that's just one idea I have on the table that I might pursue.
Right. But there might be many many more?
Haha, hopefully. I might do six podcasts! Who knows?
There seem to be a lot of new podcasts over the last couple years; they just sort of exploded. Why do you think there needs to be more podcasts from the local region?
Oh man, people in Newfoundland and Labrador have a lot to say. We have a unique perspective because of where we're we're from. We love to communicate. So podcasting just seems like a natural thing to do, and I'm excited to hear what comes out of the province.
There are already a bunch of great podcasts that exist made by people from the province right now. There's Rural Roots from Memorial University, done by the Harris Center about rural issues in the province. A friend of mine does this Facebook Live show called the Renee Sharpe Show where she brings people into her living room and interviews them. And even one of the biggest ones, one of the biggest podcasts, Radiolab, has a Newfoundland connection — One of my friends Annie McEwan, who went to school here at MUN and regularly comes back here, she's a producer on the show. So there's no reason why Newfoundland and Labrador can't create podcasts.
Some of the listeners who are saying, "you know, I can do this in September" How do they take part?
Well they can sign up on our website at unpossible.co, or you can search for "Podcast Jam" on Facebook and you'll find the Facebook group. Sign up and we'll send you more details closer to September about what you can do.