By Holland Cooke
For radio, “the camera” is iPhone; and nobody knows that better than WTOP, Washington reporter Neal Augenstein, a true digital newsgathering pioneer. His first iPhone is in the Newseum!
I left WTOP in 1991 and Neal got there in 1997, so he was amused to hear that, when I did the expense budget there way-back-when, we had a line item for batteries for cassette recorders. And our newsroom’s one portable phone was the size and shape of a lunchbox. And despite how expensive it was to make a call on that contraption, I couldn’t resist, in 1985, when – as I accompanied one of our reporters — I called my parents just to tell ‘em I was calling from the White House lawn.
Fast-forward to present day…
Take me literally when I call iPhone radio’s “camera.”
Beyond improving/refining/optimizing audio gathering, a smartphone camera can capture the photos and video that stations need to compete for ad dollars that are shifting from legacy media to digital. And Neal’s blog iPhoneReporting.com is loaded with tips, tricks, app reviews, and ingenious hacks that enable radio people to (forgive me) “do more with less.”
Career Tip #1: Devour what’s there, since there’s mounting evidence of the value of radio reverting to local content, which got clobbered during draconian post-consolidation bloodlettings, and as sound-alike syndicated programming seems to have run its course.
Applause to enterprising Augenstein who has become SUCH a Mr. yes-you-CAN-do-that-with-iPhone, that he is training other news organizations. He’s also coaching non-profits and educational groups on how to create the audio they need for their websites and social media. “Hands-on instruction and feedback will empower your employees,” he offers..
Your station should offer the same, gratis. This is something smart stations elsewhere will consider community outreach. To your market, your station is the Hollywood of podcasting. Help local companies and do-gooders do good audio, and good things happen to you..
NOT a misprint: Help Wanted, Radio News
Career Tip #2: This past weekend, I spoke at a convention of college radio broadcasters, and I urged them “exploit your digital acumen as you seek broadcasting employment.” Young “digital natives” know this stuff better than the “digital immigrants” (Baby Boomers) who own and run radio stations.
Again in January, I’ll witness the uncanny cultural contrast between the broadcasting industry and the technology industry.
• The massive, mind-boggling Consumer Electronics Show fills the Las Vegas Convention Center’s 35-football-field-size Exhibit Hall with stuff that’s there to obsolete whatever was shiny-and-new there the year before.
• Broadcasting, on the other hand, takes comfort in Best Practices which might no longer be the best bet. Don’t get me wrong! I’m a dang consultant! I make a living preaching-out the fundamentals.
• And this iPhone reporting connects the dots, enabling stations to deliver fundamental value, easier and better.
Heck, the podcast itself was a hack! Apple intended iPod to be a music player, remember? It was USERS who said, “Why just music?” Apple eventually obsoleted its groundbreaking iPod with iPhone. Apple wasn’t trying to lead users there. It was following user demand for anything/anytime/anywhere.
Hearing is believing.
Try it. At iPhoneReporting.com, look for Neal’s short video “How to turn your iPhone into a microphone.”
Hear how that tip worked, when you hear my interview there: “Broadcasting Pro: Change or Die.”
And hear me implementing Neal’s technique when I cover the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in January, for “America in the Morning” and “The Jim Bohannon Show” and my client stations and at www.HollandCooke.com
* Tito’s, up, dry, SLIGHTLY dirty, bleu cheese olives
Holland Cooke is a media consultant, working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers conventions for Talkers. Look for his reports from CES in January. And follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke