This series is all about showcasing Libsyn podcasters. Its sole purpose is to introduce these awesome podcasts to the world as well as share their podcasting insight to empower the community!
Q & A with Orlando Mergal from Hablando De Tecnología
When did you start podcasting?
My first experience with podcasting wasn’t actually for me.
Back in 2006 I podcasted the radio and TV shows for a local radio celebrity called Jorge Seijo Figueroa. I guess you could call it a podcast because it was “an audio file, episodic in nature and accompanied with an RSS feed”. But the original material came from a daily radio show and a weekly TV show, from which we only used the audio portion.
Around the same period I produced a personal podcast titled “The Old San Juan Walking Tour” which only lasted 9 episodes.
Because it was a walking tour of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, the second oldest capitol in America and —most certainly— the most beautiful (I’m biased).
Oh, and in case you are wondering, Santo Domingo de Guzman, the capitol of the Dominican Republic is 9 years older than Old San Juan.
Each program covered around a half hour’s worth of walking along the old city. Once I ran out of city to cover it was all over.
From 2008 to 2010 I was the technology expert for that same radio every Thurday, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm. During that period I commented on the latest technology news and fielded questions about every imaginable subject related to technology.
When I knew the answer (which was most of the time) I answered. When I didn’t, I wrote down the question, looked it up and returned with an answer the following week. Altogether I did 80 shows with Jorge Seijo Figueroa at an AM station called Radio Isla 1320.
On August 27, 2010 I started “Hablando de Tecnología”, which is actually called “Hablando de Tecnología con Orlando Mergal”. In English it would translate into something like “Talking Tech with Orlando Mergal”.
Why did you start podcasting?
My original motive to start podcasting was two-fold. First, I’ve had a small B2B business since 1990 called Accurate Communications where I offer business communications and audiovisual services to pharmaceutical, industrial and business organizations in Puerto Rico. So I started “Hablando de Tecnología” as Accurate Communications’ official podcast.
Second, I already had an audience that I developed during my 80 week participation at Radio Isla 1320. And more importantly, I had a list!
During that period I offered different lead magnets during the program and delivered them using “squeeze pages” and an autoresponders. Hence, I slowly but steadily created a list. When I started “Hablando de Tecnología” I simply blasted that list and “voila”… instant audience.
What is your show about?
Well, in the narrower sense of the word most people would expect us to talk about computers, cell phones, the Internet and just maybe… social media. But we take things a lot further.
On “Hablando de Tecnología” we talk about technology in the broad sense of the word, which according to the Oxford Dictionary is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”.
Hence, during our 4-year existence we have covered computers, cell phones, the Internet and social media, of course. But we have also talked about the Hadron Colider, doctor Elena Dodnar’s “anti-bio-terrorism brassier”, electronics, medicine, astronomy, acoustics, optics, physics, biology, space exploration, electric automobiles, global warming, fiber optics, and pretty much anything that falls within the broader definition of “technology”.
What’s your podcasting set-up? Hardware, software, CMS, etc.?
Although most of my close friends would catalog me as a “gear head”, my podcasting setup is actually quite simple. So let’s follow the signal path…
It all starts at the microphone. In my case that’s a Shure Unidyne IV, Model 5485D, a mike that’s 46 years old, but —in my humble opinion— beats most of what’s around today.
This was the mike used by Robert Plant during his glory years with Led Zeppelin.
Why do I like this mike. Well, first of all you can hammer a nail with it, throw it down a flight of stairs, tumble it in a hot clothes dryer for an hour and it will still work just fine.
It has clean, crisp sound that doesn’t overpower any part of the spectrum. And since it’s a dynamic microphone it’s not as sensitive to high frequency noise as other large capsule condensers that I also have available.
The last one of these microphones that I saw on eBay sold for $258, so it still has a solid following.
Just so you know, I have over 40 different microphones including AKG dynamics, large and small capsule condensers, modern Shure SM–57’s and 58’s and even Shure lavaliers and I still prefer the Model 5485D. It’s just great.
And why do I have so many mikes? Because three of things that I do to put food on the table are PA sound system rental, audio content creation and video production.
I have the 5485D mounted on a small boom stand with Chinese shock mount (straight out of the eBay sound store) that also has a metal pop filter. It serves my purposes well and the whole thing didn’t cost more $50.
From there I go straight into a Behringer Eurodesk MX–602A mixer and from there I go into GarageBand on a 2010 27″ iMac. My monitors are Behringer MS–40s and I don’t use a digital recorder.
I have a GarageBand template that already has the different channels ready to go. On the announcer channel I use the following effects: a noise gate, a compressor and a peak limiter. I have two other channels: an ad channel and a music bed channel. I don’t use any effects on those.
I record straight into the GarageBand timeline and I edit the show as I record each segment. That way, when I finish the last segment and the “outro” the show is ready to go. Well, almost…
I don’t like the way GarageBand compresses MP3s. That’s why I export my finished shows as non-normalized AIFF files and use a separate software called “SoundConverter”, which uses the Fraunhofer MP3 compressor.
I compress my shows as mono, normalized, 44,100Hz files with a data rate of over 100 kbits/sec. The sound is practically indistinguishable from the original AIFF file and the file size is about 1/10 of the original.
From there I put the MP3 file into an old application called ID3X where I add the ID3 tags and the cover art. And from there it’s off to Libsyn.
I upload my file to the Libsyn “dropbox” folder via FTP using an application called Transmit. Then I go into the Libsyn control panel, publish the show and copy the file URL.
From there it’s off to WordPress.
My site runs on a theme called “Neuro Pro” created by CyberChimps. I use the Blubrry PowerPress plugin for the podcasting function and a series of other plugins for other functions.
Among the most notable are WP Magnet for my Opt-in Form, HMapTracker Pro to create heatmaps of my visitors behavior, BroadFast Pro Autoresponder to deliver lead magnets and maintain my different lists, All In One SEO to keep Google happy, PrettyLink to make those nice short URLs for each show and Duplicator to back it all up on a weekly basis.
I also use a cool service called “Click to Tweet” to place a small banner on very show.
Each week I create detailed show notes with links to each piece of news or information discussed in the show. All links are of the “no-follow” variety.
From there it’s like Seth Godin would say: “wash, rinse and repeat”.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Well, in Puerto Rico we have a saying “nadie es profeta en su tierra” which in English would be more or less that “no one is a prophet in his own land”.
When I started “Hablando de Tecnología” I promoted it to a list that was mainly comprised of listeners from my old radio show. Within a few months my listenership had varied significantly. Suddenly my listeners were from Columbia, the United States, México, Spain and then Puerto Rico.
It has remained that way to date.
And since my original intention was to use my podcast as a communications vehicle to reach other potential customers in Puerto Rico that really hasn’t been the case.
Second, I’ve discovered that I am sort of a left-brained person talking to a right-brained crowd. Why? Because I spent many of my formative years in New York. So I guess that my mindset is quite different from that of a “typical” Puerto Rican.
Several years ago I conducted an informal keyword study using the (now defunct) Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends to identify which countries tend to consume “how-to” content.
What I discovered wasn’t much of a surprise. The countries that mostly consume this type of content are the United States, Great Britain and Australia, all of which are mostly left-brain countries.
The ones that least consume “how-to” content are the Spanish-speaking countries like south and central America, the Caribbean and Spain itself. What do they all have in common? Latinos are mostly right-brain people.
What’s the difference? Left-brain people are more logic-oriented, whereas right-brain people are more emotionally driven.
Finally, Puerto Ricans like to believe themselves to be a first world country, but most of the people on the Island are actually far behind when it comes to technology. For most Islanders the Internet is Facebook and Twitter. Everything else is hocus pocus stuff that they neither trust nor understand.
And if you try to “illuminate” them they’re prone to “kill the messenger”.
Just to give you an example, last year I attended a local bloggers conference and one of the attendees actually said that my ideas would be great if we were in “silicon valley”. In other words, that the poor souls that live on the Island were too dumb or to backwards to understand what I was saying (his implication, not mine).
So telling people about your wonderful podcast doesn’t mean much to the average Puerto Rican.
Basically, I’m stuck with a show that isn’t growing, talking to an audience that wasn’t the one that I intended, and considering if I should push on or kill the project altogether when I reach episode 100.
In the mean time, I started a tourism blog called “Puerto Rico By GPS” in July of 2013, targeted specifically at north American tourists visiting the Island (which we fondly —and jokingly— like to call “snowbirds), and that has taken off like a rocket.
Maybe I should start a podcast for that site instead.
The funny thing is that according to Rob my stats are well above average. But I can’t seem to find a way to benefit from my efforts at all. I’m making no money and I’m not gaining any B2B customers either.
Basically, I just have a hobby.
How have you promoted your podcast?
Like I said at the beginning of this piece I’ve mainly used Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and list building. I know that there are other methods available, but most of them involve money, and that is the one thing that I can’t invest at this point in time.
Right now the Puerto Rican economy is in the toilet. The Island is doing its best to displace Greece as the most messed up economy in the world. All major credit agencies have cataloged Puerto Rican government bonds as junk. Needless to say that the aggregate attitude on the Island is one of defeat.
The Island’s brightest minds are leaving by the planeload. Meanwhile, the only thing that our government officials seem to be able to do is dream up ways to sink us even further. It’s not pretty.
And, in the middle of all that, there are still some of us that get up every morning —bright and early— looking for ways to contribute. It’s like trying to plug the slit on the Titanic.
Well, enough about my worries. Let me end with this thought. At the end of every day, when I brush my teeth before going to bed, I can look proudly into the eyes of that guy in the mirror! Because I’m doing my part to make Puerto Rico, and the world, a better place!
That’s all anyone can do.
If you speak Spanish and LOVE technology then you are super crazy not to subscribe to Hablando De Tecnología. It really is a must. And who wouldn’t want to connect with the mighty Orlando Mergal?
If you happen to be in another country that happens to have more right brained people, you as well can create an outlet for yourself. Start your own podcast and join Orlando in his plight to connect with the perfect audience!