Thursday, February 17, 2011

Springs: Podcast Outcast

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 7:14 AM

Due to terrestrial radio’s insistence that Ke$ha is listenable; that DJs be relegated to jockey weather, traffic and shout-outs; and that talk-radio means reciting Republican talking points; thinking people (and me), are compelled to find less-repetitive, more-substantive listening options. Our longing is most fully satisfied by podcasting, but podcasts are almost exclusively imported into our city, with few exported.

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Whitney Matheson writes the “Pop Candy” blog for USA Today, and in her Feb. 10 "Top Ten Comedy Podcasts" entry she begins by asking, “Who here doesn’t have a podcast?” An answer: We don't. To my knowledge, there aren't any active Colorado Springs-based podcasts or podcasters.

A minor consolation is that one can still find Springs-centric podcasts from the past.

The one audio podcast that could’ve satisfied a bored I-25 commuter was KRCC-FM’s “Radio Colorado College News” audio podcast. About 25 of their podcasts, individual stories from the KRCC newsroom, are still available on iTunes, with most coming in under 10 minutes.

Delaney Utterback, general manager of KRCC, does say that shortly, the station's podcast will make a comeback from its nine-month hiatus: "We had technical issues that have been amended."

The “Garden of the Gods Walking Tour Podcast” was the city's second audio podcast. There are 12 installments totaling less than 25 minutes. While it’s a wonderfully educational complement to the park experience, it is hardly a counter-attack to the cringe cycle coming out of, say, Magic FM 98.9. (Shout-out: If only more were like DJ Dallace Jade.)

The Garden of the Gods tour podcast was brought to us by the City of Colorado Springs, as were two visual podcasts that are no longer.

There was the video podcast “This Week at City Hall,” whose last release was in July of last year. ’Twas a bi-weekly recap of recent events of Colorado Springs City Council. These videos are still available for download on iTunes, dating back to June 2007.

"SpringsTV New Stuff" podcast has been falsely titled since its last episode of August last year. Their videos of those days are still available on iTunes. The episodes have a surprisingly high production value, and showcased a diverse array of subjects — from one on the CSPD Homeless Outreach Team to another on what was in a new exhibit at the Pioneers Museum.

City spokesperson Sue Skiffington-Blumberg perceived the podcasts focusing on Garden of the Gods, City Hall, “New Stuff," and “City Kidders” (featuring kids-oriented content) as successful, and attributes their demise partially to decreased public communications funding. She responded to the Independent's e-mailed questions as follows:


Did the podcasts achieve their intended purpose?
Yes. Our purpose was to make available to mobile users educational information regarding specific city services, sites or topics.

What feedback did you get from the community?
When the podcasting was first launched in 2009 we received public comments commending us on the topics.

What was the interest level?
In 2009 over 4,000 users downloaded our Garden of the Gods podcasts. Over 13,000 downloaded This Week At City Hall in 2009.

Why are they no longer being produced?
The primary reason for the drop in production is resources, cuts in staff and budget with other key priorities utilizing the available staff. We were just starting to gain a regular following for City Kidders with 900+ interested citizens when that program was curtailed.

Any plans for future podcasts?
Podcasting will remain on our wish list and we still receive suggestions on topics we could address. I would not be surprised to see this tool utilized by our first strong Mayor. We will just have to see where it goes.

Why never an audio podcast?
We have done audio podcast for the Garden of the Gods. When we added the video the audio only had less hits.

There are a number of churches producing podcasts, including Freedom Church, Springs Calvary, and Bethel Lutheran, respectively. Here's a 2006 Independent story on how “godcasts” were added to the evangelist's arsenal.

Fellow residents can hypothesize why there aren’t more podcasts borne out of, and dealing with, the city, when the rest of the world is increasingly bonkers for it. Some theories: We have tolerable commute times; talent leaves for a bigger market; Springs’ happenings are unworthy; even, “One of our sister cities is Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It’s not like they’re tearing up the podcast world.”

To all these, say “Phooey,” and then curse the FCC just because.

Here is how to make a podcast, all you velvet-stone-voiced aspiring broadcasters.

When someone does cash-in on the untapped Colorado Springs podcast market, I just hope they remember the man they need to thank — Al Gore.

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