NOCO PODCASTERS have a lot to say.

by J. Ken Conte

Podcasts are the fastest- growing new-content me- dium in the world. There are more than 750,000 podcasts to choose from, and people in 50 percent of all U.S. homes consider themselves podcast fans (according to Nielsen). The most popular podcasts enjoy more than 10 million downloads per episode, which is more than half the viewership of a typical Sunday night NFL game. No wonder advertisers are flocking to them.

Podcasting didn’t really take off until 2015, when comedian Marc Maron hosted then-President Barack Obama on WTF, a weekly show Maron produces in his garage. The ensuing interview, which touched on comedy, fatherhood, overcoming fear, and all sorts of other subjects, was a historic moment for podcast- ers and listeners across the political spectrum. Once the White House em braced the medium as a legitimate way to reach audiences, podcasting instantly came to be seen as main- stream. Sponsors came out of the woodwork.

Podcasting was already more than a decade old by then. Radio Open Source, the longest running podcast, launched in 2003 and continues today. The term podcasting first ap- peared in a February 2004 Guardian article by Ben Hammersly; the “pod” prefix referred to the Apple iPod, which at that time was the world’s most advanced device for mobile digital entertainment (the iPhone was still three years away). The term entered the consumer lexicon in 2005, when Apple began distributing podcasts via iTunes and encouraged podcast production via GarageBand and QuickTime.

A wave of self-produced podcasts quickly emerged. Virtually anybody could start one – all you needed was a decent microphone, an Internet connection and a copy of Podcasting for Dummies. With its low barrier to entry and negligible cost, the plat- form opened the door to imaginative shows for almost every audience niche.

The same traits made podcasting a perfect fit for the enterprising spirits of Northern Colorado. Spirits like me.

HOW I FOUND POD
I started listening to podcasts back in 2005 as a way to kill time while traveling, and got hooked when co- median Ricky Gervais teamed up with the BBC to produce 12 episodes. Gervais’s show quickly became the most downloaded podcast in history up to that point. It was later adapted into an animated series, and the world began to take notice. Podcast popularity continued to grow as radio stations began recording their regular shows and making them available as podcasts to grow their audiences.

Ivan Wayne hosts The More You NoCo. |Photo courtesy of Ivan Wayne

Over the years I listened to hundreds of hours of podcasting, but I couldn’t find a single show that offered long-form interviews with notable people in the motorcycle industry, in which I was intimately involved. So I decided to start one. I had no real knowledge of audio editing or the back end of an RSS feed, but I knew motorcycles and I knew how to talk. I did some research, teamed up with an Internet- savvy friend, and enlisted another friend (and fellow podcast-listening enthusiast) to edit my audio. We called the show 4Ever2Wheels. The first segment went live in January 2014.

More than five years and nearly 140 segments later, 4Ever2Wheels draws a weekly audience of 20,000. The show gained wide acceptance because of the content and the guests – I’ve worked in the motorcycle industry for quite a while, enabling me to line up a lot of well-known personalities and even a few celebrities. But whether I was talking with Keanu Reeves about his Arch Motorcycles venture (Episode #36), NOCO legend Charlie Weisel about his long-distance chopper rides (Episode #139), or anybody else, listeners tuned in because we all shared a bond: the freedom of the road.

Along the way I added a weekly news segment called ShopTalk, co-hosted by Cycle Source Maga- zine owner Chris Callen, to complement the long form interviews. ShopTalk allows for real-time audi- ence interaction because it is video-streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which makes our show more technologically challenging than most podcasts. A couple of years ago I took over all the audio editing and RSS posting duties, and after a bit of a learning curve they have become second nature.

You can hear all the episodes on any podcasting platform by searching 4Ever2Wheels, or visit the show’s websiteat www.4Ever2Wheels.com.

OTHER NOCO PODCASTS
4Ever2Wheels is just one of many homegrown Northern Colorado podcasts. Some cover regional per- sonalities and issues, while others are based in NOCO but address national and even international topics.

One of the best local-focus podcasts is The More You NoCo. Ivan Wayne, a psychology instructor at the University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College, launched the show last August and has already piled up 95 half-hour episodes. Wayne hopes to bring more of a sense of community to Northern Colorado by having conversations with people about what they do and what is important to them. He donates half of each show’s proceeds to a featured nonprofit, as a way to give back to the community and to demonstrate the good that can come from philanthropy, even on a small scale.

The show’s range of topics and person- alities are as wide as the NOCO commu- nity. “I always recommend people find an episode featuring a conversation with a person they don’t know or about a topic not in their wheelhouse,” says Wayne. “The feedback I typically get is that a lis- tener didn’t expect to like it, but they did, because it was two people carrying on an interesting conversation.”

Wayne’s first foray into podcast listen- ing was Talk Is Jericho, hosted by former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, who riffs on wrestling, entertainment, comedy and the paranormal with celebrities. Today, along with his penchant for all things pro wres- tling, Wayne also enjoys Last Podcast on the Left, The Joe Rogan Experience, Ted- Talk Radio Hour and Radio Lab. You can tune in to The More You NoCo through all podcast channels or on the site at www.themoreyounoco.com.

A local podcast on broader subject mat- ter is the Scuba Steve Football podcast(www.scubastevefootball.podbean.com).It’s hosted by Steve Clinton, a data specialist who began crunching numbers for the Northwestern University football team while he was an undergraduate there. He later worked for the University of Toledo’s football program before head- ing west to Fort Collins.

“I’ve always enjoyed breaking down sports,” Clinton says, “and with the knowledge I have working as a quality- control assistant for two college football teams, my training as a data scientist andstudying player film, I know I’ve got one ofthe most informed predictive models out there.”

He started listening to podcasts while preparing for fantasy football drafts, then realized he had a lot of insight to offer – and could get his voice heard every week during the season, breaking down games and using his training to help educate football fans. About one year and 38 episodes in, Clinton has a dedicated following of listeners, some of whom have invested in his predictive analytics processto help refine it. With football seasonabout to get started, give Scuba Steve Football a listen so you can sound smarter than your friends. You can search Scuba Steve Football on any podcasting app or stream the show directly from www.ScubaSteveFootball.com. A fairly recent addition to the local lineup, Filmmakers and Photographers Drinking Coffee, offers insight into NO-CO’s burgeoning film and video industry.At less than a year old and with only 10episodes, the show is still finding its legs.But its hosts (including Advanced Media Services owner Chris Bell and InformaEngage creative director Matt Rickman)all have impressive resumes, and they’ve scored some noteworthy guests. There’s also usually some informative gear talk about the latest AV tech (both pro andconsumer). Find Filmakers and Photographers at www.fpdcts.com.

Yoga Pod is hosted by (left to right) Maj-lis Delgado, Ken Conte, and Jana Stratton. Photo by Jessy Bugg.

TUNE IN AND TURN ON
One of the most eclectic NOCO podcasts going is the University of Northern Colorado’s Bear in Mind, featuring interviews with UNC students, faculty, alumni and stakeholders. The subjects are so diverse that no two episodes are really alike. One week’s segment might focus on business, the next week could look at regional agriculture, a week later you’ll hear about public health and the week after that could tackle immigration law, the hemp industry, bitcoin, solar power, bluegrass music or almost anything else. The series dates back to 2017 and features 70+ episodes. You can find them all at www.unco.edu/bear-in-mind

Another wide-ranging collection of homegrown content resides at NoCo FM,

an online streaming station with a diverse range of locally produced podcasts. Its offerings include shows about psychol- ogy and self-improvement (The Spark with Stephanie James), parenting (Boys Built Better), feminism (Feminist Hotdog), socialentrepreneurship (Connecting a Better World) and LGBTQIA+ (NoCo Gaydio).The network streams 24/7; check it out at www.noco.fm.

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Several local media outlets have taken up podcasting. For example, 1310 KFKA has a mix of straight-to-pod productions and regular on-air programming that’s repurposed for downloadable, single- serving consumption. The content is heavy on sports, but you’ll find shows on local brewing, the restaurant scene, NOCO se- nior living and more. The station’s popular health-and-cooking show, Fork It Over, ceased production this spring after nearly two years, but its 41 episodes are still available for download. Find it all at the station’s website, www.1310kfka.com.

The Greeley Tribune launched its true- crime podcast, The 970, four months ago (www.greeleytribune.com/the-970), and the 23 episodes of the Coloradoan’s discontinued The Way It Was series are still available online. You can find it at www. coloradoan.com/series/thewayitwas/. Colorado State’s student-run station, KCSU, has a wide range of sporadically updated programs. The longest-running series, Killer Vibes (now in its 6th season), focuses on murders, haunted houses, unsolved mysteries and so forth (www.kcsufm.com/category/podcast/killervibes).

Finally, one more personal shout-out: I began going to Yoga Pod Fort Collins a little over a year ago, and owner Maj-Lis Delgado and manager Jan Stratton asked me how they could get more men into the studio. I suggested a podcast, and in a few weeks we had it up and running. Yoga Pod is now up to almost 40 episodes, with segments covering everything from science to spirituality, creativity and more. You can hear Yoga Pod at www.yogapod.com/ fortcollins/podcast/.

Have something you’re burning to share with the world’s podcast listeners? Here’s a basic kit to help you get started:

 

1. Digital microphone. The simplest, most cost- effective beginning solution is a Blue Yeti. It plugs directly into your laptop or tablet and enables you to record multiple people at once. You’ll sacrifice some audio quality and pick up some background noise, but this is a good place to start. An even cheaper option is the iRig, a two-pack set-up that facilitates fairly high-quality recording capability directly to your device.

2. Laptop or tablet. Any laptop with plenty of storage (at least 128 GB) and the ability to record and edit audio files will do. Apple laptops and the iPad Pro can be outfitted with enough storage, plus they have Garage Band, which makes recording a podcast easy.

3. Digital voice recorder. The Zoom H4N has been a staple for podcasting. It allows you to back up every conversation, which might seem like overkill, until the first time you realize you didn’t hit record or one of your mics isn’t plugged in. It’s reassuring (and smart) to get every interview two times over.

4. Hosting site. Look into Libsyn, Podbean, Buzzsprout or Podserve. They all have their pros and cons, but all distribute to platforms and provide invaluable analytics. Hosting fees start at around $9.99 per month.