The Speculist: The Blogtalkradio Service


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The Blogtalkradio Service

I've been meaning to write for awhile about our experience with the Blogtalkradio hosting service for FastForward Radio. Simply put, if you're interested in podcasting, I recommend Blogtalkradio. Other podcast hosting services should take note of what Blogtalkradio is doing right and imitate it.

Why? Three reasons. First, it's free. FastForward Radio was once hosted on (the service formerly known as Hipcast charged for bandwidth. This placed me in the uncomfortable position of hoping the show didn't become too popular. That time we interviewed Aubrey de Grey cost me dearly. My wife started hinting that I might need to take up a cheaper hobby... maybe saltwater fishing.

But Blogtalkradio is, so far, completely free. I don't have to lay awake at night dreading an Instalaunch.

Free hosting might seem like a strange business model in the post-dot-com-bust world, but I'll bet they've thought this through. Blogtalkradio is a new kind of social networking site that could one day work within other established social networks like MySpace. Maybe they're building it to sell it. Or maybe - post-beta - they'll offer advertising deals to their popular podcasters. They're already using banner ads.

The second thing that Blogtalkradio does right is live podcasting. This, of course, allows greater interaction with the audience. There is built-in text chat and listeners can even call in. You can fill up to five lines.

While I enjoy the interaction with the audience, there are other reasons to like the live format. A live show forces a disciplined approach from the podcaster. When FastForward Radio was pre-recorded I was tempted to ramble. I'd stop and chat off-the-record. We took breaks. That doesn't happen with a live show. You're on with an audience.

And this means that there is no editing. This might seem like a minus, but I've found this very liberating. When we prerecorded I'd often spent hours editing a single show. As long as I had that tedious chore, the show had a sporatic schedule. At best we would publish monthly for three or four months and then miss half a year.

Since we've moved to Blogtalkradio we've done weekly shows. Taking away the editing crutch liberated me from the worst part of podcasting. We do more shows with less work.

The third big reason to like Blogtalkradio is the complete lack of startup costs. Aside from the free service, you won't need to buy expensive microphones, condensing boards, or audio editing software. Blogtalkradio requires only two things - a computer with a broadband Internet connection, and a telephone. I'll just bet you already have those two things. You won't need to buy or install any software. The system is completely web based. And I'm perfectly happy with the sound quality I'm getting out of an old slimline phone.

In fact, this 1970's era telephone is the best podcasting mic I've ever owned. The sound is almost rich compared to the tinny little mics I was using before. And in spite of the fact that the phone is held right against my mouth, there are no plosives. The difference I think is the relatively large size - by comparison to headphone mics - of the slimline's microphone.

The telephone is a very mature technology. I'm sure that VOIP will one day be as easy, reliable, and idiot-proof as telephones are today... but that day hasn't arrived yet. You'll control your show with an Internet based switchboard, but you'll probably host your show over a standard telephone line. Some Blogtalkradio deejays use VOIP to save on the long distance charge of calling in, but its an added level of complication to a process that's otherwise very easy.

So, the only expense you're likely to have is the charge for long distance calling. I avoid that charge by being on an unlimited long distance program.

Even though it's a live show, it's also still a podcast. Your listeners can hear your show when they're ready by streaming it, downloading it directly, or downloading through a podcast receiver.

Blogtalkradio does seem to hide show MP3 files. But here's where they're found: Log in, click "My Account," then click on "Segments," then "Archived Segments." Go to the desired segment and click on the small magnifying glass icon with the plus symbol. When the next page comes up look over on the right margin under "segment details" The "audio/mpeg" link is to the MP3 file.


One of the great advantages of the slimline has got to be that you don't have to worry about the phone battery dying! VOIP isn't any harder to use than regular phone service if you're using a carrier like Vonage. The reason I currently don't use it for the show is that I have a problem with dropped calls. I've only experienced that when working from home, however, running a VPN and Lotus Notes over the same internet connection I use for the phone. Maybe I'll try it with the Vonage phone this week. If I go suddenly silent, Stephen you can pretend like I went on a profane rant and you had to shut me off!

Sure, let's experiment with Vonage and see how that works.

But if you get dropped we'll probably both have profane rants.


Unfortunately mine would be on air.

Actually if you go to your profile page there is a Download button to download the mp3. has play and download buttons to listen on the site or download the mp3


Thanks! I guess I was looking too hard. :-)

- Stephen

Hi our little brothers.v

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