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 Jonathan from The Blind Side
When did you start podcasting?
I produced my first podcast all the way back in 2004.
In those days, not many people knew what a podcast was.
I remember talking up my podcast on an Internet radio show I was hosting, and I got an email from someone who said “what’s this pot cast thing you keep talking about, man? Is it some means of getting high?”
I’m very square and have never done such a thing.
Why did you start podcasting?
For 20 years, I’ve been providing audio to blind computer users in some form or other. I go all the way back to when RealAudio was a thing, listening to really grainy mono audio over a 9600 baud modem. Ah, memories.
In 1999, I set up an Internet radio network for blind people. It was exciting because it connected our global community together in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Many blind people love radio, it’s a medium we can easily consume. One of the most frequent questions I got when producing the technology show that I started for blind computer users was “can I download this and take it with me”?
We used to offer downloads on an FTP site, which was very geeky. When podcasts came along, I knew that this was something that blind listeners would appreciate.
Because so many blind people listen to talking books, many are used to listening to audio at high speed, and navigating between sections of audiobooks. Podcasts are just ideal in so many ways.
What’s the name of your show about and what is it about?
My show is called The Blind Side Podcast.
I started this particular podcast because I wanted to offer a constructive solution to a problem.
The problem is that mainstream media seldom covers issues from a disability perspective.
Thankfully, there are many more stories about other minorities than there used to be, but disability often still falls under the radar, probably because there are few journalists, or politicians, or people of influence in general with disabilities.
You get a lot of “inspirational” stories written by sighted people who think blind people are fantastic for doing ordinary things.
But you seldom get serious analysis of how certain events affect disabled people.
My podcast handles that from a blindness perspective.
We deal with issues that have a clear disability focus, such as discrimination against guide dog handlers, computer accessibility issues, news about new iPhone launches as they affect blind people, comparisons of iOS and android from a blindness perspective etc.
But sometimes, we look at mainstream topics, and add some sort of blindness angle. So, it’s a very wide and varied podcast. Sometimes you get technology, sometimes it’s politics, love and relationships, even healthy living and meditation.
What’s your podcasting set-up? Hardware, software, CMS, etc.
First, let me talk about the software that is a little bit different from most podcast setups, since I’m totally blind.
I use screen reading software on my PC called JAWS. It speaks what’s on the screen.
Although that may sound like a tedious process, I’ve been using talking computers for 35 years, so I have my speech cranked up pretty fast.
Also, JAWS features many ways of setting up keystrokes to hear the specific content that you need to in any situation.
So, it’s a lot more efficient than many people think. I also use JAWS in conjunction with hardware called a refreshable Braille display.
That allows me to read in Braille what’s on my computer screen. In the context of the podcast, that’s important, because it allows me to read scripts and listener emails.
Apart from that, my podcast setup is similar to what you’d find in the studios of any audio geek.
My digital audio workstation of choice is Reaper. When I’m recording an interview with someone remotely, I use it to record with me on one channel, and them on the other channel.
I then split those channels into separate tracks, so I can make sure that the volume is equal, and I may apply a little compression or equalisation on my guest.
To finish it all off, I always put my podcast through Auphonic.
I’m a huge fan of the gentle audio compression, equalisation, and normalisation it adds.
It’s also an easy way to set my LUFS levels, which is important for services like Spotify and Alexa, which I can publish to easily through Libsyn.
Another reason I use Auphonic is that its cloud-based service allows me to add chapter markers.
I know there is a lot of debate out there about whether chapter markers are important because it’s another thing that podcast producers have to think about, and for a while I stopped using them.
But my audience is used to navigating audio. When they learned that it’s possible to skip between sections of the podcast using chapters, they loved the feature. So for my particular audience, it’s a big deal.
I use WordPress for my company, Mosen Consulting, and we have a page for the podcast there and publish episodes to WordPress.
I’ve also learned over the years about the value of building a sense of community around your podcast, so we have an email list hosted on Groups.IO which people can join to discuss episodes.
On the hardware side, I have an Allen & Heath Zed22-FX mixer.
Since I also do live streaming Internet radio as well as podcasting, I make use of mix-minus and all those good things.
The mixer itself comes with a basic USB interface, but I also use a Komplete Audio 6.
We have two Heil PR40 microphones in the studio. My studio has a little bit of room bounce, so I appreciate how directional the PR40 is.
Occasionally, I record interviews in the field. Some blind audio geeks I know are fans of the Zoom recorders, which are very popular in the podcasting community in general.
At the moment, I use my iPhone X either with a USB microphone like the Blue Raspberry or the Blue Yeti, or a stereo plug-in microphone such as the Zoom IQ7.
I use them in conjunction with a multitrack editor for iOS called Ferrite. At the moment, I prefer this approach over Zoom recorders, because everything talks.
Every iPhone comes equipped with screen reading software built in, called VoiceOver. If I were to use a Zoom recorder, there are menus that I would have to memorise or get assistance to navigate.
I then take my field recordings back into Reaper, for editing and other post-recording tasks.
How have you promoted your podcast?
If your podcast can get a reputation, and you can score some high profile interviews, and those interviewees promote your interview with them via their social media and other channels, that’s incredibly effective for spreading the word.
I’m also generous with my time when I get asked for interviews by other podcasters.
Obviously, I want to promote my own podcast, but I also want to promote the fact that blind people can use computers, and can do a much wider range of jobs than most people think.
So, if you run a podcast that talks technology, or social issues, and you want to talk about those things from a blindness perspective, hit me up. I’d love to spread the word about the impact that technology is making on the lives of blind people. It’s a wonderful story to tell.
If the issue of disability is prevalent in your life or for someone in your life, this is a must listen show. Do not delay and subscribe to The Blind Side
In podcasting we are getting more and more diverse voices but we still need more. If you are differently abled or would like to speak about a disability or address issues of ableism, start a podcast. We would love to host your media and if you need a bit of help about how to start podcasting? We have a free monthly podcasting quickstart!