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Media Shifts: Building a Podcast

For some years, I've been an advocate of breaking a sweat for an hour every day. Walking, yard work, house cleaning, hand washing the car and motorcycles - everything is game. I don't always pull this off seven days a week, but with the goal of every day, I do accomplish this about 5-6 times a week on average. I've estimated my annual walking miles in my neighborhood at about 700 miles a year.

Whatever I'm doing, is always that much better with headphones on. For years I'd listen to the radio or play tracks I had stored on a music device of some kind. There were some radio shows I enjoyed that had moved to the podcast format. Shows like Car Talk, Harry Shearer's Le Show and Musician's Spotlight had expanded from the FM dial to podcast editions, making it possible to listen to these shows and more, regardless of whether the local public station carried them or not. And I could pull them up on demand - at will! Perfect.

Then I got to thinking one day, surely there must be podcasts with motorcycle-related content. A quick Bing search found several and I began to work my way through them. Some were what I might call "Biker Pedestrian" focused on the chrome and leather lifestyle in a manly gritty sort of way. Not my cup of tea. One was rather hooligan-like with the co-host cracking inside jokes, but it didn't relate much to my enjoyment of riding motorcycles. Another was hosted by a guy who didn't even ride and his co-host, a rubber-side down elderly sage. That wasn't getting my attention either.

One show I did latch on to was The Pace, a casual show put together by two East Coast riders. They rode all kinds of bikes, reviewed new bikes and gear and were a lot more down-to-earth than some of the more one-dimensional hosts I had worked my way through up until now.

In January of 1999, there was no online motorcycle magazine for Pacific Northwest riders. In June of that year the first issue of Sound RIDER! was published to fill the void.

In January of 2015 there was no podcast for Pacific Northwest riders. In February of that year, The Sound RIDER! Show was launched to fill that void.

When strangers ask me what I do, I tell them I am a digital media specialist. I write code, I'm a graphic designer, I'm a skilled photographer and photo editor, I create reams of digital content each month. What most people don't know or find out is that in the 1980s I owned a recording studio. And that means I know my way around all the gear and modern editing techniques to make a pretty decent podcast.

By fall of 2014, I was pretty keen on what made a good podcast, and what made a less-than-entertaining one. I created an outline of what a Sound RIDER! show might go like and in December Derek and I ripped a test show, edited it together, played it for a few others and fine-tuned the concept. In February of 2015 we launched the first official show. The concept focused about 50% of the content to local information and the other 50% to a more global audience. We'd cover the local calendar, but the News Bytes segment was anything goes, from new model announcements to stunning legal incidents from around the world, new gear and more. We'd interview both local celebrities, as well as more internationally-known ones. What that 50/50 split got us was an audience from both the Pacific Northwest and around the continent and the globe.

In terms of timing, we'd discussed making it weekly or monthly. Weekly was taking its toll on others who didn't have enough interesting content to fill an hour of useful information to riders. We opted for once a month which meant we were never short of content and my dining room would be transformed into a recording studio for a single day, rather than basically always. It also meant I wasn't going to spend the better part of several days a month editing one show after another.

Over the years, other shows have come and gone. Sadly, in August of 2017, after 221 episodes, the final episode of The Pace aired, leaving a big void in the more pragmatic channels of moto podcast content.

Both social media and podcast adaptations of Sound RIDER! were key to making the magazine work, as well as the events we were producing as you'll see in the next chapter.

TM/March 2019

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