Two sides of podcasting

In Stephen Downes’ OLDaily yesterday, he shared an interesting resource that he found and reviewed.  It was about “How to make your podcast the right length: how long should a podcast be?

My first kick at the topic was to read Stephen’s thoughts since they were right there in front of me.  Based on his regular daily writing, I expected that his thoughts would be along the same lines of his writing.  Keep it short, sweet, to the point and be brutally honest.  I was kind of surprised when he took a different direction.

I don’t want my podcasts to be cold and efficient. I want them to be warm and engaging.

That’s pretty consistent with what I know about his stuff.  I saw him at an ECOO conference a few years ago and every now and again, he’ll share a presentation that he’s made to a particular audience.  He typically doesn’t call them “presentations” though, he refers to them as “talks”.

I think that gives him leave to tell stories and add the personalization that enhance the listening for me.

My next step was to head over to the article that he makes reference to.

The author, James Cridland, makes the argument that the podcast should have a definable lengths and makes the connection to the average car commute to work.  It makes sense if the intended audience is one that listens as they drive.

But there are times where that just doesn’t cut it and it’s noted in the post as well.  If it takes three hours, then use the three hours but “not one minute longer.

Again, good advice.

This all raised its relevance to me and the timing of the post and Stephen’s review was timely.  I read it Tuesday evening and had my radio show on voicEd Radio this morning.  While not what I strictly call a podcast, it’s a live radio show that is recorded and then placed into an archive where it can be downloaded and replayed just like a traditional podcast.

In this case, there is a definite timeline.  It’s not as long as it needs to be.  The show has a one hour time limit and Stephen Hurley and I are done at that point whether we think we are or not.  While it’s tagged as a conversation between the two of us, there is a great deal of planning.  My typical plan going in is that there’s probably 75 minutes worth of content.  As the show progresses, I’m mentally editing out some of the points, estimating how much is needed to end the show right on the dot.

And it seldom does.  I really struggled with the concept in the beginning but it’s something that appears to be getting better with time.

There are usually a number of things that I intend to include that get left off the show.  The conversational part with Stephen is always a moving target.  The show is truly live and the conversation is generated on the fly.  If one or both of us want to head off tangentially, we do.

Any flex time that we have comes from the song of the week that plays the show in and out.

Fortunately, I do have an out.  Blog posts can be as long or as short as needed.  So, while the Wednesday radio show is on a timeline, the blog post that follows up on Friday morning can be as long as I want.

I found both the article and the commentary on it very helpful.  It’s why I like to read commentary and research on social media.  Whenever I can read and walk away wondering, I’m happy.

This blog post was originally posted at:

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.


Best of both worlds

There are a number of us in Ontario who dabble in a couple of online worlds – blogging and podcasting.  Most people blog in their own space and voicEd radio is the premiere place in Ontario to host your podcasts.

So, it was with great interest that I read this article from Time Why Podcasts Are Taking Over The World & Changing How We Tell Stories.  And, of course, it got me thinking.

Years ago, I published a monthly technology news letter for my old school district and I created a podcast of the headline story for each month.  When that went away, I stuck just to blogging and my signature posts would be the Friday’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs.  Over a year ago, Stephen Hurley reached out to me and asked if I would do a podcast version of it.  I thought about it for quite a while because I really didn’t want to do it.  I put a lot of thought and time into the blog posts and it just seemed contrived to sit back and read my blog post into an audio file so that he could broadcast it.

Then, we came up with a different concept and that was to do a live radio show where I’d select a subset of the posts that would appear on Friday and do it live on Wednesdays. The show would be conversational in nature between the two of us.  It would also be recorded and made available for download later as a podcast from here.  This seemed interesting and unique so we gave it a shot and 70+ weeks later, there is a nice collection of shows.  Every now and again, I’ll listen to some of the early recordings and they weren’t very good on my part.  Stephen has a great voice for radio and he really carried me.  But, I like to think I got better.

I’m starting to enjoy working in both worlds; Stephen and I have actually recorded our show on the road and also in some odd vacation places.  But, back to the premise of the story – are podcasts taking over the world?  I don’t know.



  • Our recording is live so there’s only one take.  It requires a great deal of homework to prepare
  • It’s quick.  We do our timeslot on Wednesdays and that’s it – good, bad, or indifferent.  There’s no time to proofread
  • It’s conversational.  Sometimes we even stay on topic but that’s not a requirement


  • I always have and still do hate the sound of my voice.  I’m way too nasal
  • It’s live.  (See above)  If you listen to the show, there will be times when we stump each other with questions or comments and there are those awkward pauses
  • Mannerisms – I’m really bad for that but I like to, ummm,  think I’m getting better
  • Whether recording a radio show live and then republishing it is actually a podcast I suppose is still up for debate



  • It doesn’t have to be done in one session.  Since I schedule my posts for 5am on Friday mornings, I have in theory an entire week to find great blog posts to read, think about and then write the post.  Admittedly, that is very time consuming
  • It’s easy to do research as I write.  I just open another tab and get to work.  I’m never stumped (unless DuckDuckGo is)
  • The blogging media allows for links to external resources and images, screen grabs, etc. to help document a point.  You can’t do that effectively in a podcast
  • I never make mistakes.  <ahem>  Or at least mistakes that persist since I can always go back in and fix the odd typo.  The ability to proofread reinforces all those years I spent in English class


  • It’s generally just me so I do have to work hard to address both sides of an issue rather than playing good cop / bad cop with Stephen
  • It can be time consuming – particularly if I’m searching for that perfect post – I’ll have the editor open all day unlike the 1 hour and done approach of our podcasting
  • It’s not dog walking portable.  With a podcast, I can download the audio file and listen to it while counting mailboxes

In my mind, there is no clear answer.  I see all the above points and there are probably more.  One of the things about both worlds is that they open connections to new communities and I’m learning from each of the communities.  Who could ask for anything more?  It’s a hoot when someone approaches you at an event to introduce themselves as a consumer of my work.

At this point, I can’t see dropping one for the other.  I think they complement each other nicely.

If I could only do something about my voice.

Detailing Failure

Of all days… I should have stayed in bed … but I didn’t.  It was Wednesday which meant that I’d be going on the radio with Stephen Hurley at 9:15.  I had a lot of things to do before then.

5:00 am

  • do my morning reading and have breakfast

6:00 am
  • reread the blog posts for the show and update my notes
  • get the garbage out – Wednesdays are garbage days here
  • get the dog’s 14 000 steps (my 7000) in before breakfast (his)
  • read and respond to the whack of email messages that always seem to be there.

Since it’s typically black outside, I’d do the first and last steps above first.  I clicked on iTunes for some background music but it refused to start.  I turned on the television to listen to morning news instead.  Debugging iTunes would have to wait. The radio show was a little more special than normal.  Stephen Hurley’s birthday is this week and Ramona Meharg had got a number of people from the voicEd community to record a message for Stephen of Flipgrid.  Between the two of us, we had it all planned.  I sent her the link to Zencastr where the show would be recorded.  We set up the timing; I was going to start the show as per normal and then Ramona would join us.  Perhaps it was unethical to blindside Stephen this way but there’s always a challenge with birthday surprises.

9:00 am

As per normal, I sent out my heads-up Twitter message…

Join @Stephen_Hurley and me on @voicEdcanada at 9:15 for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. This week, posts from @ProfMelLefebvre @leftyeva @TCHevolution @andreahaefele and @peterskillen #twioe— Doug Peterson (@dougpete) October 3, 2018

And, I clicked on the Zencastr link to have it load while I went and got my coffee. I returned to my desk and saw that Zencastr wasn’t responding.  I reloaded.  Nothing.  You know what they say about insanity.  I reloaded a couple more times. Grrrr.

9:05 am I sent a panic message to Stephen.  Stephen sent me back a different link indicating that there were limited number of people allowed on the broadcast going this way but since it was just the two of us, it wouldn’t matter.  Uh oh.

9:07 am I sent the new link to Ramona who was going to send it to those who said they’d like to jump in on this birthday surprise.

9:08 am I tried Zencastr again.  No luck.

9:10 am
I join Stephen in the new meeting room and we shared our frustrations.

9:14 am
Ramona joins us in the room.  Stephen seems confused as to why but showtime is showtime.  Stephen gives Ramona and me a warning that we won’t hear the introduction music.

9:15 am And, we’re on.  I fade into the background as Ramona (and her class) sing a happy birthday to Stephen.

9:20 am Paul McGuire joins the room.  Ramona and I start to have a nice chat with him.  Now, riddle me this.  Ramona, Paul, and myself can hear and chat with each other.  Stephen could hear Ramona and me but not Paul.  Stephen decides to kick Paul out and ask him to join back in. He does with the same results.  He’s tossed out again.

9:22 am In the meantime, Derek Rhodenizer jumps into the conversation, effectively locking Paul out since we’d hit the limit of connections.  Derek offers a nice birthday greetings to Stephen and then leaves to go back to work.

9:30 am Paul’s back.  He joins into conversation again with Ramona and me.  Stephen still can’t hear him.  Still frustrating; still bizarre.  Live radio is fun. Throughout, Ramona is playing clips from the Flipgrid document. We had a bit of a chat with Ramona’s students and then Paul and Ramona leave.

Now, Stephen and I can start the show.  We looked at the first blog post from Melanie Lefebvre about being a classroom DJ.  This went well. Then, we went to the next blog post from Eva Thompson about Septembers. 

I ramble on for maybe five minutes and notice that Stephen is noticeably quiet.  I look at the radio show tab and see that I’ve been disconnected!  I reconnect and am back in conversation with Stephen. 

My first question was – where did I drop off?

His response? 

Right at the first of the review of Eva’s post. 


I’ve been sitting at my desk talking to myself for the past ten minutes.  I start again and try to remember the deep insights that I’d shared the first time. Then, I noticed that I wasn’t on the show again. 

I try to reconnect. Nothing. I try a couple of other things and I’m completely offline. 

Checking the connection…

I grab my phone and turn off the wifi so that I’m using my data connection.  Stephen had indeed noticed that I was offline. Should we call it? I offer to connect via my phone but Stephen says that it won’t work. We do call it.  But, not before Terry Greene volunteered to sub for me.  I don’t know what happened at this point in time. 

I’m offline.

I should have stayed in bed.

Happy Birthday, Stephen.

Later that day…

4:30 pm I just happened to send Stephen a message that my internet access had been restored.  We just recorded the rest of the show.  Through the magic of digital editing, Stephen will tie both recordings together as if nothing ever happened!

@voicEd #twioe Playlist – Weeks 26-30

Next up, the 26th Week of This Week in Ontario Edublogs as they appears on voicEd Radio.  We start on August 11, 2017.

Week 26

voicEd Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Aviva Dunsiger, Terry Greene, Grant Hutchison, Paul McGuire, Jon Orr, Matthew Oldridge, Diana Maliszewski

Week 27 

voicEd Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Paul McGuire, Deborah McCallum, Anne Marie Luce, Deborah Weston, Sharon Drummond, Kristy Bishop, Terry Greene

Week 28

voicEd Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Jennifer Aston, Ramona Meharg, Jane Mitchinson, Alana Callan, Melissa Dean, Matthew Oldridge

Week 29

voicEd Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Laurie Azzi, Jonathan So, Jim Cash, Tim King, Diana Maliszewski, Peter Cameron, Helen DeWaard

Week 30

voiced Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured Posts by:  Aviva Dunsiger, Jonathan So, Paul McGuire, Andrew Campbell, Michelle Wardman, Sue Dunlop, Marcella Jager

@voicEd #twioe Playlist – Weeks 21-25

And, we move on to Week 21 of This Week in Ontario Edublogs as they appears on voicEd Radio.  We start on July 5, 2017.

Week 21

voicEd Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Tim King, Jennifer Aston, Rola Tibshirani, Peter Beens, Paul McGuire, Matthew Oldridge, Jen Giffin

Week 22 

voicEd Radio Show:  No show this week (Stephen decided to go on holidays…)

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Deborah McCallum, Peter Skillen, Aviva Dunsiger, Alanna King, Jennifer Casa-Todd, Paul McGuire, Diana Maliszewski

Week 23

voicEd Radio Show:  No show this week

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Rochelle Tkach, Aviva Dunsiger, Tracy Sherriff, Mark Chubb, Sue Dunlop, Paul McGuire, Cal Armstrong

Week 24

voicEd Radio Show:  No show this week

twioe Blog Post:

Featured posts by:  Jennifer Casa-Todd, Julie Balen, Brian Aspinall, Heidi Solway, Rusul Alrubail, Scott Renaud, TESL Ontario

Week 25

voiced Radio Show:

twioe Blog Post:

Featured Posts by:  Sarah Lalonde, Sue Bruyns, Chris Cluff, Paul McGuire, Jennifer Aston, Debbie Donsky, Jen Giffin