The Internet's First Self Publishing Radio Station
Sell Books with an audio showcase interview
Ron Pramschufer: This is Ron Pramschufer, and welcome to Publishing Basics Radio where weekly we help you navigate the self-publishing mine field. Publishing Basics Radio is sponsored by SelfPublishing.com, the internet’s only self-publishing superstore. Think you’re ready to publish a book? Try SelfPublishing.com. Now, on with the program.
Allan, I see according to your website you’ve been around broadcasting on the internet since 1997. How did you get started in this business?
Allan Hunkin: I’m a professional speaker in the self-help field, and have been for quite some time, and was looking for a way to build my profile and expand it without having to go and sign books in Barnes & Noble stores for the next five years. I really wanted to try and avoid that if I could. And internet broadcasting was just new and I said that’s it, that’s an incredible way to reach people. And I saw it on about a Thursday and by the following Thursday I was doing my first show.
Now, I did not have a background in radio. I just had a background in talking about what I’m passionate about.
Ron Pramschufer: In 1997 I think I had like a 14.4 modem, and I didn’t think you could get a - I didn’t even think audio was around then.
Allan Hunkin: Well, it wasn’t much. I was the first talk show on audionet.com, which became a broadcast dot com, which then became Yahoo! Broadcast. Of course, Mark Kuban sold that for $4.3 billion. But at that time, at the time that I got started I was the first talk show. There was nothing else to listen to, so it was easy to get listeners.
Ron Pramschufer: Yeah, I was gonna say, so how did anybody find out about it?
Allan Hunkin: Well, like I say, I mean that was like the early, early days. You know, I think I started my website originally in 1997 and there wasn’t much out there.
Ron Pramschufer: But internet audio at that time was, of course, as exciting as it is today. It was making a lot of noise. It was getting a lot of attention. It is an incredible technology, and it is a destructive technology. In other words, it applied to many of the things that were going on at the time completely changed the way we listen and what we listen to. I also noticed that you were like the original owner of the domain name called podcast.com.
Allan Hunkin: I am the original owner, yeah, of podcast.com; bought it at two o’clock in the morning -
Ron Pramschufer: How long ago was that?
Allan Hunkin: September ’04.
Ron Pramschufer: ’04. Now, again, podcast, I think I heard that term used for the first time about seven months ago.
Allan Hunkin: Actually, about August. Late August of ’04 was when Adam Curry started talking about iPod and then podcasting, and really, I guess, really I saw podcasting being born on the internet as an idea and as a concept. But I already had it written into my business plan that the next area of growth would be the movement of audio off of the desktop and into portable devices, whether that’s an iPod or an MP3 player or an audio enabled cell phone or a PDA or a laptop, whatever device we use when we’re away from our computers. And so we can now listen while we drive, we can listen while we jog, we can listen while we’re sitting on a park bench enjoying the - getting some fresh air. We can time shift audio, and that has just opened up the value of audio internet just tremendously.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, because that’s what I was gonna ask, ‘cause when did - I mean I’ve been familiar with audio on the internet, but when did audio on the internet like morph into being called podcast?
Allan Hunkin: Just September, October ’04 was when the first mentions of it were, and then we all rushed out and bought domains and started into it; those that saw it kind of coming and knew what it was about. And, you know, now we’re just over a year old and if you type in "podcast" into Google you will see about 60 million listings for the word “podcast.” So that’s one year since the deployment, since the invention of the name we now have kind of 60 million activities in this area, so this is just huge.
Ron Pramschufer: That’s amazing. Now, how about - I was gonna say it’s about a year or a little over a year old or whatever. How many shows, or how many podcasts do you figure there are out there now?
Allan Hunkin: Well, I just returned from the first ever portable media conference in
Ron Pramschufer: Yeah, I’ve heard it compared to back in the early WWW days when there were, you know, 15,000 websites and you look and see how many websites there are right now.
Allan Hunkin: Well, it makes sense see. We’ve gone through these evolutions and the websites have pretty well gone as far as they can go in terms of design, convention, graphics, you know, a lot of these websites now they’ve got dancing girls coming across the screen, you know. So it’s as much as you can do, but I have said for a long time that no web page will ever compete with the power of the spoken word. And for the very reason that we’re listening to this today, you know, there’s a lot more communication going on. There’s the passion that we each have for the subject, there’s the inflection of our voice, there’s the communication at the subliminal levels and the subconscious levels that’s going on that you can’t get from a web page. So we’re now into an era in the internet where we want to use this tool to cause change, behavioral change, and you really can’t get someone to change their behavior based on information that they’re gonna read from a web page. You can inform them, but you really can’t get them to act, not really. Or at least I will say that audio is much more informative, much more convincing, and therefore more likely to cause a behavioral change.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, because I say like with everything else on the internet and all, podcast like all you hear about now. And I wonder at this stage of the game how much is real and how much is hype. You know, I mean you would think that -
Allan Hunkin: Oh, there’s lots of hype. I mean it’s - you know there’s podcasters made up of kind of four or so categories. You’ve got, I call them the casuals and kits, you know, they’re people who are just playing with it. They love the sound of their own voice and so - and they’ve got a radio show and they’re 23 years old and it’s a great way to pick up chicks, you know. You’ve got the hobbyist and the purist, you know, guys who really love this sound, and they’re the guys that still own the reel-to-reels and the LP’s and they’re purists in audio and technology. And then you have companies and corporations who are trying to get the word out about their message. You know Disney just started their own audio showcase podcast. They had scheduled it for a one off based around the 50th anniversary of the Mouseketeers, which they just had as an event, and it was so successful - the podcast - that they decided that they would have a monthly - now here’s why: it’s a 30 - 45 minute podcast, there was 50,000 people downloaded it and Disney says, you know for a few thousand dollars that we spent on that we could never buy 45 minutes of our fan’s, our listener’s, time, the mind time of those people. We could never buy that for, you know, a few thousand dollars; it would cost, you know, hundreds of thousands to get that much time in the minds of audiences that we want to attract and have influence over. So, you know, this is why corporations and organizations are gonna - I can’t imagine why every non-profit organization who has a mission to get a message out there in some area, some segment of society, I can’t imagine why they aren’t podcasting today. There’s just no good reason that I can think of. And then finally the area that I’m in which is professionals in what I call life enhancement where we’re talking about career and health and relationships and entrepreneurism and business and everything to do with enhancing our lives and others lives. And we write about this and we speak about this and it’s just perfect, it’s a perfect venue for podcasting.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. ‘Cause, yeah, just an example as far - you know, this show’s been on the air for about seven months now.
Allan Hunkin: Sure.
Ron Pramschufer: But I’ve had a newsletter, okay, for about three or four years, and what I did just as an experiment - I had an audio column at one point for the first couple of years, and it always seemed that no matter where I would place it in the newsletter it would finish last as far where people actually clicked. And this is a pretty good column. So what I did I went and I took one of my own podcasts and I put it in my own “Ask Ron” column, which is the top column, and sure enough I went from like the No. 1 read article to like No. 3 or 4. But then I took another podcast - I had it transcribed, right, so it was all typed out - I ran that and I jumped back up at No. 1 again. So I’m still, and again, I obviously believe in it because I got a show, but as far as, you know, the number of people that are convinced to click and listen versus click and read, you know, I just don’t know yet.
Allan Hunkin: Well, but don’t forget we’re just still just in the infancies of this and, you know, lots of people don’t have an MP3 player yet that they’re hanging around their neck or putting in their pocket. You know, it’s all new and we know that the enthusiasm is there for time shift audio, and part of that is because terrestrial radio is just so God awful, I mean, 16 commercials every 5 minutes and you know you’re always listening to “some guys like this” [alternating his voice] who’s “yes, sirree, we’re gonna play the tunes till way on into the night,” [alternating his voice again] that you don’t care about - you know, half of the radio stations in North America today are owned by two companies, and they do canned programming, they’ve lost touch with their local audiences, so radio is out of the question. And then because people are so darned busy they need to be able to listen where and when they can. And thirdly, they - like is complicated in the 21st Century and we need to have information; we need to access experts who have a podcast who talk about our health. And it doesn’t matter a diddly until it matters. You know, I tell people, you know, I didn’t care about cancer - I didn’t care about cancer at all, not till the day I got diagnosed with it.
Ron Pramschufer: And then you’re looking up everything in the world.
Allan Hunkin: And then I’m just chasing every bit of information I can to see if I can survive this. So, you know, our needs change and so the cool thing about having a podcast is that you can archive it and you can have it there until your audience, the person in your group of prospects needs to listen. You know, like -
Ron Pramschufer: So it’s On Demand, so to speak? I mean the publishing industry has been talking about print on-demand - everything is on-demand nowadays.
Allan Hunkin: Well, you know -
Ron Pramschufer: That’s it. I mean you’ve got radio on-demand.
Allan Hunkin: As a publisher or as an author, people you deal with, as various challenges come up they can, you know, sit down and try and figure it out themselves or they can go onto Google and say okay, well, who has talked about this before and, you know, if you’ve got an author who’s cash is running out and you’ve done a show called “What To Do When Your Cash Runs Out as an Author,” boom, you’ve got a listener instantly.
Ron Pramschufer: And the first time he hears it is the first time he hears it.
Allan Hunkin: Yeah, exactly.
Ron Pramschufer: So it doesn’t matter how old the show was.
Allan Hunkin: No. It’s, you know, I mean how to get out of that mess is, you know, there’s some pretty standard stuff and a few innovative new things, but all in all you’ll get a lot of value out of listening if that’s your need at that time.
Ron Pramschufer: Now what caught my eye originally, or why I called you up to get on the show in the first place was you have a program that you offer authors, okay - and most of my listeners here are authors who are in the publishing industry in some form or another - and it’s a program you call “Audio Showcase.” Want to tell us a little bit about how this works?
Allan Hunkin: Well, I do audio showcases for authors and for any kind of company or organization or individual or person that’s trying to sell something or get a message out about something. They started out as an interview, and I’ve done almost 500 interviews now on my different radio shows since 1997. But then I evolved them into a formal product, which I call an audio showcase podcast, which is an interview, but there’s a lot more communication and cooperation between myself and the guest prior to the interview where we talk about, you know, there’s a formal process of what is it you’re trying to say, who is it you’re trying to reach, what would be the best result that you could have from this podcast, what do you want to attract as a result of having this.
So we’re, you know, if it’s a product they’re trying to sell then we’re gonna talk about that product in a way that makes sense. Now, it still is an interview and we don’t have the questions preplanned and we don’t script it, but we are trying to have an outcome of selling a product or informing somebody. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s an infomercial, ‘cause those are just way more than what I’m talking about, and they cost a lot more too. But this is a low impact, friendly way of putting forth a product or a profile on the front page of your website. Because we go to all this expense to get people to come to our website and it’s hard to get traffic now with, you know, with a couple of kazillion web pages out there it’s hard to get traffic, so whenever anybody arrives at your site, well, you better convert that person into a customer as quickly as you can and convert as many of them as you can.
So this “click to listen” right at the very front of the website - and especially to, for instance, you know, you’ve got the President of the company, “click here to listen to why he’s passionate about his company and the product they’ve just launched.” I mean what better message is there than that?
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. And here as far as an author goes it’s “click to hear,” you know, “what the author has got to say about the book”?
Allan Hunkin: Well, yeah, and especially authors, because the great thing about desktop publishing was that everybody could become an author; the bad thing about desktop publishing is that everybody could become an author. And so now you’ve got a never-ending supply of books in similar subjects than the one that you’ve written, and yours is unique but people only have so much time in the day, they have only so much mind time, they only have so much level of interest in a given subject, and maybe they only have a need right now. So the idea is that, you know, why am I gonna buy your book today versus the other 45 in the similar genre that are available? And to hear the author talk about their book and what’s in it moves that relationship way down the path very quickly.
Ron Pramschufer: So you kind of hear emotion. I mean it gives you a chance to pitch your book one-to-one rather than - or the difference between me talking to you direct and, say, sending you a letter?
Allan Hunkin: Yeah, that’s a very good way to say it. It’s a one-on-one, you know, kind of a person listening in on a one-on-one conversation about how important and how neat this book is.
Ron Pramschufer: Now, you said it wasn’t scripted; now it is edited, though, right?
Allan Hunkin: Yes.
Ron Pramschufer: Like what if, you know, I’m nervous and I’m just like a terrible interview?
Allan Hunkin: Sure. Well, you know, of course, today we record these electronically. They go right into the computer as we’re recording them, and then we - there’s no tape like there used to be where there was studio time and tape and it took so - you had to be so careful, and it was gonna be so hard to edit and that, because it was just very, very time consuming. Well, it’s still quite time consuming, but it’s not as time consuming as it was. And we won’t alter the message, but we’re going to do everything we can to enhance the message. We’re going to take out - we have this little saying: “ums, ahs, clicks, pops, double answers, double questions, and unusual pauses.”
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. In other words, you’re not going to make me sound too bad?
Allan Hunkin: No, no. We’re not going to change what you’re saying, but we aren’t gonna move words around likely, only if it really helps to enhance what you were trying to say, but we’re gonna tighten it up. And usually a good ten percent of an interview, even a good interview where people don’t stammer and stutter through it, a good ten percent can be removed without any effect except making the interview more powerful.
Ron Pramschufer: I’ll be. Now how much does something like this cost? I’m an author calling you up, I got - you know, I just did a book on playing golf, or whatever.
Allan Hunkin: Right. We only do one or two of them a week. The process by the time we run it through several different processes that we have, whether it’s editing or whether it’s enhancing the audio file to make it sound better or whatever it is, you know, we can only do about two of them a week. So we charge $1,050 for the interview, the audio showcase portion, and then another $350 if the person wants it listed in all of the podcasting directories, on Google, and you know, they want us to do some marketing for them.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. And then the product in the end, what do I get from you? I mean do you actually give me the audio file?
Allan Hunkin: Oh, sure. We provide- we encode it in two formats, so we encode it in Windows Media format and MP3 format. One of them is designed for streaming; the other is designed for download. We burn a CD and send it to the person with all the raw file, the finished file, and the two encoded files. We host that file on our streaming media server so that there’s a lot better reception capability on the part of the listener. So the link goes on the author’s web page, but the file is actually hosted on our servers.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. Now are there any residual charges?
Allan Hunkin: No, that’s it.
Ron Pramschufer: So we do this, I’ve got this interview, and I’ve got all these different formats, it’s mine to use how I see fit?
Allan Hunkin: And it’s up, you know, it’s up as long as you want it to be up there. There’s no ongoing charges at all.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. Now, can I use - like the link that I would use, is it something I could, say, put it in the footer of my email, you know, where I put my name and address and everything at the bottom of the email?
Allan Hunkin: You should absolutely put it in the signature file of your email, and “click here to listen to my interview with Allan Hunkin about my book.” It - most definitely that - the whole idea of this is to get the message out to your prospective customers, buyers, that kind of thing, and to get a pass along started. You know, you send it out to 100 people and only a certain number of those people will be interested, but - they go, oh, man, my friend Susie she’s really going through that right now, she would really appreciate listening to that interview. And then when Susie gets it, of course, she’s got a bunch of people she’ll pass it on to, so that’s what you want to get started.
Ron Pramschufer: Oh, wait, now just out of curiosity if I do, like, say, five interviews on five different parts of my book will that make me a podcaster then?
Allan Hunkin: That could be the evolution. The idea of the audio showcase is for people who don’t want to become a podcaster or an internet broadcaster, they just they want to highlight their product or service and get the message out about that, but the idea being if you - you know, if it seems like a good venue for you then you could have evolved that into becoming a podcaster. There’s nothing that builds community, Ron. You know, like, as you know your database is the most valuable thing that you have, but you can’t send people the same stuff all the time, you know, “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.” What you can do is you can do a podcast, an interview with people in similar areas, you could zero in on a part or a chapter of your book and do a podcast about that and just talk about that and expand on that more than you could when you were writing the book, and that you can send out to someone legitimately and say, you know, this is fresh, this is new, and it’s not just the same old stuff.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. Now, where do I go about seeing - or I guess, more correctly, where do I go about listening to examples of what we’ve been talking about?
Allan Hunkin: A good example would be on the web page that I’ve created around the audio showcase podcast. And that’s at allanhunkin.com/audioshowcase.htm. So it’s a-l-l-a-n-h-u-n-k-i-n, my last name, .com, front slash, audioshowcase.htm.
Ron Pramschufer: All right. Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s been very nice talking to you today, Allan. I just read a press release just an hour and a half ago, videocast, man, is that next?
Allan Hunkin: Yes, certainly videocasting is - there’s lots of enthusiasm and excitement about it. It is, of course, as anybody who has handled a camcorder knows, and has tried to do editing and that kind of thing - when I’m editing an audio showcase I’m looking at about 4 - 6 to 1. In other words, if it’s an hour long podcast it’s gonna take me six hours to edit that, probably. When we start talking about video we’re starting to talk about 20 to 1, so it gets to be a whole lot more time consuming and a whole lot more expensive, so, yeah, for some venues, for some subjects it’s gonna be great, but it’s - I don’t think it’s - the other thing is too that what an author wants is a person to listen to the sound of their voice. The person is already using their eyes when their reading the web page or reading the book, but what the author wants is people to develop a relationship with their personality, and you can only do that with the spoken word. The actual pictures get in the way in some ways.
Ron Pramschufer: That’s funny that makes sense. I never thought of it that way. So once again thanks for coming on the show, Allan.
Allan Hunkin: My pleasure, Ron. What you do is just great. I really appreciate you and all of the fine work that you do for authors in helping them to, you know, make their individual book projects a real success. So thanks again for inviting me.
Ron Pramschufer: Take care now. For Publishing Basics Radio and SelfPublishing.com this is Ron Pramschufer. See you next week.
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