Let's help these folks start podcasting

by Doc Searls

Radio stations should archive programs as podcasts for the same reason newspapers and magazines should save stories as Web pages. Especially since it's so darn easy. And help is so handy. (Hint, hint.)

This occured to me this morning when I was listening to KZSB/1290, the live news outlet of our local daily newspaper, the Santa Barbara News-Press. KZSB has no website, but it does stream live, using Windows Media Player. This brings up the Kaffeine Media Player in my Linux laptop, but ... nothing after that. Pretty annoying.

The same idea occurred to me again a few minutes ago, when I wished I could hear the Tabitha Soren interview of Ana Marie Cox, better known as Wonkette, which I had heard on a Commonwealth Club radio broadcast in the Bay Area earlier this week while I was driving down to Mashup Camp. (Here's one blog report on the 'cast.) So I looked up Commonwealth Club podcasts on Google. The top result wasn't useful; but the second result was Commonwealth Club Radio Program, an "unrecognized" file format that turns out to be http://audio.commonwealthclub.org/audio/podcast/weekly.xml. An RSS 2.0 file, for podcasts.

That was cool, but... there's nothing about podcasts or RSS on the Commonwealth Club site, though there are pointers to webcasts on KQED and KALW, San Francisco's two main public stations. Those pointers also include "Listen Now" links (like this one here, for Wonkette), which have other links that bring you RealAudio webcasts, rather than podcasts.

What's strange in both these cases is that podcasting is much easier than webcasting. You store files and point to them in an RSS feed. In KZSB's case, most of its broadcasts are programs. It would be easy for the station to archive those programs as .mp3 files, for downloading as podcasts. Storage is cheap these days. So, why not? As for the Commonwealth Club, same question.

So now I'm thinking it might just be a matter of tools. How about mashing up something combining podcasting with the open source Rivendell broadcast content management suite, which is written for Linux by Salem Radio Laboratories, and which I featured here a few weeks ago.

Stations with lots of programs, and not just music formats, would benefit enormously, methinks.

As for the Commonwealth Club, a simple RSS feed with pointers to extant archives would suffice.

As for RSS, there's some additional background in the form of the RSS roadmap and two pieces about it by Dave Winer, who has guided RSS development since he first made it stand for Really Simple Syndication.

The second of those pieces is about how much companies have invested in RSS over the years. Another angle on it is, how much have they saved?

I think we can save them a lot of money.

What do the rest of ya'll think?