Confession here – the number 52 comes from Stephen Hurley. I could go in and fact check but he seems like a man of integrity so I’ll go with his number.
OK, actually I did fact check him by going into the archive and counting.
That’s what happens when you say yes. A year’s worth of a weekly broadcast.
A little bit of history – a while ago (certainly more than 52 weeks) I noticed that there were a lot of blog posts titled with “100 Blogs you should read” or “50 People you should follow on Twitter”. Often, I’m a sucker for click bait like that hoping to find new things and seeing if maybe even I made the list. More often than not though, I wouldn’t be on those lists (they probably have standards) but the bizarre thing is that the content mentioned was often pointed to dormant accounts. It was also very seldom that you’d find someone from Ontario on those lists.
I decided to do something about it. My answer was two-fold – one was to devote an hour on Friday mornings identifying “Active Ontario Educators” i.e. people that are actually doing something on Twitter on Thursdays and to do a quick review of recent blog posts from Ontario Educators. And, in the process I curated a pretty good collection of blogs and bloggers.
They’re all from Ontario and for that I don’t apologize. There are awesome things happening in Ontario and this was my way to help make others aware.
If you’re doing a Twitter workshop, there are five lists that you can share with new people and ditto for bloggers. The bonus is that all of them have been active within the last 24 hours. No dead links here.
End of history lesson.
So, I got this request from Stephen to up my game a little bit. His plan was to have a dialogue on voicEd Radio about the posts that would come out on Friday. We would do this on Wednesday. What the heck? I thought I’d give it a shot.
So, we tried it for a couple weeks. It was a half-hour show and the concept was pretty easy. I would just pick 4 or 5 blog posts, Stephen would ask me to name a blog and the topic and then we’d chat for a bit. He had no idea, in advance, of what we were going to do.
Looking back, the initial attempts were OK but certainly had room to grow. So grow we did.
First, Stephen wanted to have an idea of what the blog posts would be in advance. Fair enough. We now have a document with the links to the blog posts that he gets to preview in advance of the show.
Now, he is pretty smooth and has a voice and style for radio. In the beginning, I was anything but. I’ve recorded and listened to my voice many times. I am very nasal in my speech but it’s the only one I’ve got.
There was another element; since he didn’t know the blog posts in advance, he’d ask me questions and I had these annoying mannerisms that came through quite noticeably. With a little planning, the two of us did a better job of having this weekly discussion.
We also decided to have a little chat before we started looking at the blogs. One of the best comments we had was from Jennifer Casa-Todd who said it sounded like a couple of guys sitting around the dinner table chatting. What a compliment.
I’ve got a new appreciation for the need for moderation and Stephen is great at it. From where I sit at my computer, I can see about five different clocks all of which are pretty close to the real time but not exact. He’s great about cutting me off at our 10:00 am quitting time.
The technology behind all this lives in “The Cave” in Milton. I just need to connect to an instance of Zencaster and make sure that my microphone and speakers are working at an appropriate level. Stephen really makes the process easy for the guests.
We decided to lead in every show with a different piece of music. The choice was left to me and so often I’ll pick a song that is roughly related to one of the blog posts. I think it works nicely and Stephen says that he goes onto iTunes and buys the song if he doesn’t have it in his collection. I like to think that he’s getting a better collection of music in the process. He also pays SOCAN licensing fees so it’s all legitimate.
We do try to do things on Wednesday mornings at 9:15 live and then have it repeated throughout the week. But, there have been times where one of us is unavailable but the joy of radio is that you can record in advance. We’ve been able to get the show out on time whether we record it early in the morning or in the evening.
Through the shows, we’ve encountered a few characters. Paul McGuire is always entertaining because he’ll be on Twitter commenting or correcting us live. It’s almost dangerous to look at the Twitter feed at times! There are people who are regular bloggers and you always know that you can count on Aviva Dunsiger, Diana Maliszewski, Jen Aston, Jennifer Casa-Todd, Tim King, Deborah McCallum, Chris Cluff, Sue Dunlop or many others to have something posted within the past week. After a while, you come to expect multiple questions from Aviva, half a book chapter post from Jennifer, something tough to read the first time through from Tim, Deborah, and Chris, something on leadership or well-being from Sue, or something completely different yet incredibly interesting from Diana.
It would be easy to count on these people ever week. That would be boring! I’ve tried to dig deeply into a list of great Ontario bloggers to find new (to me) people like a Sarah Lalonde, Lynn Thomas, Jen Giffin, Zelia Capitão-Tavares, Jim Cash, Jon Orr, or so many others. It occurred to me that this was a pretty incredible blog roll. So, I made one! We also like the fact that we can help amplify voices and causes like Eva Thompson, Ramona Meharg, and Peter Cameron. I was absolutely delighted to see a friend and former colleague Lisa Cranston take on blogging in her retirement. These names just scratch the surface. Check the blog roll for everyone.
I joked to Stephen once that our show was an opportunity for two guys to read someone’s post and get it completely wrong. Emboldened, we decided to do the same thing for French language bloggers Joel McLean and Sylvain Lacasse. The best part about radio is that Lisa Noble and Sheila Stewart can’t complain about my spelling or grammar mistakes. They just never see them until Friday. A standing faux pas is Stephen messing up the name of this show and talking about another of voicEd Radio’s shows. Grrrr.
The bizarre thing about this is that I can’t listen to voicEd Radio because of the lousy internet access that I have. I can talk and upload but to listen to streaming is impossible. If I want to listen to a show, I have to download from the archive which is faithfully stored at the voicEd website. Equally as bizarre, Stephen and I have only ever met once. Its was at Minds on Media last year where we tried to broadcast the show live from the Bring IT, Together Conference. Aviva, Eva, Ramona, Jim, and Cal Armstrong joined us on stage. We really had to know our stuff to talk intelligently about their posts while they were actually there.
I’m impressed that, even after 52 shows and the same format, that the diverse blogging from Ontario Educators keeps the conversation fresh. The radio show complements the Friday blog nicely. I’ve discovered that we’re both WKRP fans and his Dr. Johnny Fever plays nicely off my Les Nessman. There really is something special when people who are on the show take the time to retweet the teaser that’s put out at about 9:00 am on Wednesdays to let people know what blogs we’re going to be chatting about.
It goes something like this:
Join @Stephen_Hurley and me at 9:15 on @voicEdcanada to talk This Week in Ontario Edublogs – we’ll be looking at blog posts from @virtualgiff @sarahlalondee @chrisjcluff @dcarruthersedu @WillGourley #twioe
We haven’t been cancelled yet so the show will go on. We’ll be live this morning at 9:15 and the show will be replayed throughout the week. Thanks, Stephen, for taking a chance on me and I’ll look forward to having yet another go at it.