The Blog


December 1, 2020

I do some of my best thinking when I’m walking the dog.

As Boomer and I made our way along the trail near our house, I was thinking about how far I have come in learning how to master (too strong a word) some of the tools of podcasting. In the early days of the podcast, I recorded interviews and other audio on my phone in Garage band. It was convenient because the phone was always in my pocket. It recorded the noises I needed it to, plus a bunch of other noises, too. And this is how I did it for over a year.

Then, one day in late summer of last year I got the idea that I wanted to interview Michael Wallis, author of several books, about one of my favorites by him, “The Lion of the West.” I found his website and clicked on the contact link and asked for an interview. Half expecting no response and halfway expecting a polite “no thanks” in a week or so, you could image my surprise when waiting in my in box the next morning was a message from the author himself. Not only did he suggest a date and time for said interview, he left his phone number to give him a call for the conversation.

Excited at the prospect of interviewing a renown writer faded to terror. “How am I going to pull this off?” A telephone interview was way over my level of expertise.

I googled “How to record a telephone interview.” I found no solutions there that I liked. It all involved spending money and a lot more than I was interested in spending. So, I turned to social media, begging for a solution from other podcasters.

A podcasting friend from Pittsburgh, Tim O’Brien, suggested this dohicky called a Zoom P-6. He described what it did and what it could do. His review was so glowing I’m not convinced he doesn’t own stock in the company. Convinced that if I was going to get this interview recorded I would have to step up and buy this piece of equipment.

Its ability to also record remotely turned out to be an added benefit. It really changed the sound of my podcast, giving me better audio quality for those interviews. Tim’s advice was a real gift.

But the real gift came a few months later. This thing came along called a world-wide pandemic. Suddenly travel was not quite as easy and people were not quite as ready to visit face to face. I soon found myself doing interviews by phone with people just across town. The real gift was the ability to continue to do the podcast and the interviews despite the pandemic.

As we neared the front door, the dog and I, I realized what a great turn Tim had done me. By encouraging me to  get over my fears about learning one more gadget and my qualms about the cash, he really saved the podcast. Sure, it could have continued without the recorder, but it would have lost some of its dynamics and “feel.”

I stooped to let Boomer of his leash. I was thankful for a friend who’s advice released me from my own self-imposed low-tech leash.

Tim O’Brien is the host of “Shaping Opinion.” On his podcast they talk about the people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. @ShapingOpinion

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