Thursday, 28 February 2013

"Live your life with passion - and, as long as it lasts, enjoy your freedom": Why Adam Curry is called the 'Podfather'

Do you know who this guy is? Would you know who he was if you saw him in walking on the street, in a supermarket or in a restaurant?

No? Well I would. I'd probably go up to him and tell him what an honour it was to see him in the flesh. That would look rather odd if you didn't know who he was though wouldn't it? Me just going up to this guy and shaking his hand without even knowing who he was.

Ah, but therein lies the answer: I do know who he is. He is the 'Podfather'.

That man there is Adam Curry, the creator of the world's first independent, financially successful podcast which sparked the podcasting trend that we see today. 

He is the creator of the Daily Source Code podcast which first aired in 2004 was the first ever podcast to integrate RSS elements, scripting and audio content such as music, making his podcast much like a radio show.

"There are no Secrets, only Information you don't yet have"
- Adam Curry

Early career and tryst with MTV

After spending eight years in the Netherlands working for both pirate radio stations and mainstream media, Curry moved back to the United States in 1987.

MTV had come calling, and at that time were one of the first TV channels to play music videos on the air. Curry rose to fame with the music channel, hosting two shows named MTV Top 20 Video Countdown and Headbangers Ball. 

While at MTV, he interviewed world-famous music celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney and presented shows for New York-based station WHTZ, hosting the nationwide programme HitLine USA.

While at MTV, he began to experiment with the internet and volunteered to start an online profile for MTV, registering the domain name in 1993.

By 1994, millions of internet users had come into contact with the site, which led to Curry gaining much fame in the online world. The internet as we know it then was still very rudimentary, and this appeared to be the start of something new.

But despite being given permission by MTV brass, it was Curry who was developing this website using his own personal resources when he wasn't working. MTV asked Curry to shut down the website in 1994.

In spite of this, court documents show that MTV asked Curry to promote the site and advertise content of the same on his show, meaning that they were in fact using Curry's personal creation, despite asking him to shut it down, for the benefit of the company.

Curry took MTV to the New York Supreme Court and the matter was settled out of court.

Curry's adventure with podcasting

After leaving MTV spending much of the nineties and the nougties founding companies which aided in promoting the use of the internet, all of which were unfortunately unsuccessful, he struck gold when he founded the company PodShow with business partner Ron Bloom in 2005.

Designed to attract advertisers and promote podcasts, PodShow - later renamed Mevio - was an umbrella for the Podshow Podcast Network, the Podsafe Music Network and the Podcast Delivery Network.

Turns out that Curry's idea to form this company was in hindsight a stroke of genius.

In 2008, three years after its formation, PodShow claimed it had attracted over nine million unique visitors and had raised $15 million in 2008 alone, taking the total amount it raised in those three years since its birth to a very impressive $38 million from investors.

Bloom also predicted the site would be profitable by the end of that year.

But despite fathering the first site which gave birth to modern podcasting, that is still not why Curry is remembered in the pod world.

"Imagine being able to listen to "Science Friday," or last night's game whenever you want, wherever you are. That day is coming, and it's likely to bring a whole host of as-yet-undiscovered radio talent with it."
- Bob Garfield, co-host, On the Media

In 2004, Curry released iPodder, a podcast aggregating software. Inspiration for the programme dawned upon him when he spoke to Dave Winer, one the early developers of the RSS Feed, which made it possible for computers to detect where the next episode of a subscribed podcast would come from.

To create iPodder, Curry taught himself the Apple source code which automatically linked users to the download hub for all their podcasts. In his free time, he took apart the code, made changes to it so that it would be easy for everybody to use and then put it back together.

The incentive to create iPodder began to germinate in Curry's mind after painstakingly searching for sites which contained the podcasts, which took plenty of time (and patience) and downloading them. What iPodder basically did was collect all these podcasts and then give you the option to download them to your computer whenever you felt like.

"Curry sparked the podcasting boom in three significant ways: He persuaded Dave Winer to add the enclosure element to RSS 2.0 in 2001, created a popular podcast and released an Applescript hack as open source that led to the first standalone podcasting client."
- Rogers Cadenhad, RSS Advisory Board

More than half a million people downloaded the software in the first three months after its creation. Even after Apple Inc. have came out with their own podcatching service, the iPodder continues to be one of the most widely used podcatchers in the digital market.

In that span of time, the iPodder had established a directory of more than 2,000 different podcasts, which just goes to show how much of a success it has been.

Free to download and very easy to use, the iPodder metamorphosed into Juice, another podcatching software that is free to use. What makes Curry's invention even more impressive is that it continues to make a log of the podcasts you have subscribed to even when your computer is switched off.

Nowadays, most podcasts come with 'subscribe' options, but that hasn't diminished the presence of the iPodder in the world of podcasting.

"Every new medium needs a celebrity, and Curry is happy to fill that role"
 - Annalee Newitz, Wired Magazine

To prove that the iPodder actually works, Curry created a podcast called The Daily Source Code show. It was in a lot of ways like comedian Jerry Seinfeld's sitcom on NBC - a show about nothing. Speaking about the advancements in podcasting and general topics that concern people throughout the globe and liberally peppered with swear words - a strict no-no in mainstream broadcast media - the show is one of the world's most popular podcasts.

The reason this is is because Curry's podcast was an excellent alternative to what was being heard on radio stations in the United States at that point - content that some termed 'bland'. 

He would also discuss conspiracy theories such as Free Energy Suppression and the 9/11 Truth Movement, something which was rarely breached on mainstream media.

"People are still looking for the 'meat and potatoes' of the internet, and this is it. This is just the beginning."
- Adam Curry

Take his episode made in the first week of March 2005, for example. Recorded in the front seat of his car, which he dubs Studio A8, Curry's show was downloaded and listened more than 50,000 times by people all over the world in the 36 hours that followed the show. 

Today, the show has more than 500,000 subscribers.

Curry's vision and innovation has led to making the podcast one of the internet's most known sources of information, an expanse previously untapped that even large corporations throughout the globe are looking into.

What he has basically done is given everybody in the world the ability to have their own voice on the internet, something that wasn't possible in the past.

But what makes it pick your jaw off the floor with a shovel is that anybody can use it, from a corporation - as mentioned above - to a high-school teacher looking to impart knowledge to his pupils, for a very, very small cost.

In addition, Curry introduced PodSafe music to the world, wherein recording artistes and singers agreed to remove their royalty fees in exchange for free exposure on the web. 

And that legacy - which will be discussed in my next post - is why Adam Curry is called the 'Podfather'. 

In the end, he gave us all an offer that we just couldn't refuse.

Until Next Time,



Ariano, T. & Bunting, S., 2006. Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love to Hate (and Hate to Love) About TV. 1st ed. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Atwood, B., 1995. The Next Step. Billboard Magazine, 29 July, p. 70.

Cadenhead, R., 2005. Adam Curry Caught in Sticky Wiki. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 26 February 2013].

Farkas, B. G., 2006. Secrets of Podcasting, Second Edition: Audio Blogging for the Masses. 1st ed. Berkeley: Peachpit Press.

Fleming, C., 2010. The Radio Handbook. 3rd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

Gannes, L., 2008. Mevio Raises Another $15M. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28 February 2013].

Herrington, J. D., 2005. Podcasting Hacks. 1st ed. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media.

Lichtman, I., 1994. The Billboard Bulletin. Billboard Magazine, 18 June, p. 106.

McHaney, R., 2011. The New Digital Shoreline: How Web 2.0 and Millennials Are Revolutionizing Higher Education. 1st ed. Sterling: Stylus Publishing.
Miller, R. L., 2006. Business Law Text and Exercises. 1st ed. Arlington: Cengage Learning.

Morris, T., Tomasi, C. & Terra, E., 2008. Podcasting for Dummies. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing.

Newitz, A., 2005. Adam Curry Wants to Make You an iPod Radio Star. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28 February 2013].

Raysman, R., Pisacreta, E. A., Adler, K. A. & Ostrow, S. H., 1999. Intellectual Property Licensing: Forms and Analysis. 1st ed. New York: Law Journal Press.

United States District Court, S. N. Y., 1994. MTV v Curry. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 27 February 2013].

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A workaround to a Skype interview and its advantages

In the modern digital age that we live in, Skype has helped us communicate with people who are on the other side of the planet through the internet.

Of late, this technique has been used by news channels for conducting interviews. 'The Stream' from English and Arabic news channel Al Jazeera is one such example. 

Conducting interviews with experts on a particular subject solely via Skype, 'The Stream' takes a look at international events and incidents throughout the globe which may range from mainstream current events such as the conflict in Mali to off-beat topics such as 'Voluntourism' which is rapidly growing in New Zealand as people volunteer their services for a charitable organisation while also getting to visit other nations.

But there are some nations in the world which have banned Skype for a multitude of reasons, ranging from security threats in countries such as Ethiopia to a vested interest in promoting one of their own VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services, as is the case in Oman, where I live.

While not technically blocked here, what it requires is for someone to get a license from the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority before using it.

The Russian Federal Security Service did try to block Skype, Gmail and Hotmail in 2011 after they were considered potential threats to national security following the hacking of one of Russia's most popular blogs and an independent newspaper, according to the Associated Press, but the Kremlin rejected their appeal.

The workaround

As part of my assignment, I had considered doing a Skype interview with a friend of mine, but knew that that would most likely be impossible because I live in Oman.

I also knew that any VPN services and IP address concealers would not work as they had been filtered by the government and any attempt to do so is considered illegal by the government.

My solution to the same, therefore was to interview my friend during a Google Hangout session. While Skype has been used to interview people in the past, Google Hangout has come to the fore only recently.

The concept

Once I had chosen to conduct an interview via Google Hangouts, I had to inform the right person and organise a back-up just in case things fell through.

The idea behind this was to show a working, viable alternative to Skype in places where it is banned, thereby still providing an ability to deliver news to the world on a particular topic.

I would also record the same using screen recording software.

The idea

My plan was to interview a Japanese national on the current state of affairs between the United States and Japan.

Since the end of the Second World War, Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which was drafted by occupying forces of the United States of America (Dower, 1999) after the Second World War says that the Japanese people will waive their right to armed conflict accompanied by a lack of recognition to the right of belligerency.

The same is mentioned on the official website of Japan's Ministry of Defense.

"Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

"In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." 

In its stead, there was the institution of the Japanese Self Defense Forces. The article on the Ministry website continues:

"Since Japan is an independent state, it is recognized beyond doubt that the provision in the article does not deny the inherent right of self-defense that Japan is entitled to maintain as a sovereign nation.

"On the basis of such understanding, the government has adopted an exclusively defense-oriented policy as its basic policy of national defense, has maintained the Self-Defense Forces as an armed organization and has taken steps to improve their capabilities and conduct their operations under the Constitution."

Given the alarming number of armed conflicts currently taking place across the globe and the role the United States plays in international relations, I wanted to get the opinion of the current generation on the alliance between the two nations, as a part of which the United States has established several military bases in Okinawa (Chanlett-Avery & Rinehart, 2012).

Moreover, diplomatic relations between Japan and the People's Republic of China are increasingly strained since Japan claimed sovereignty over the disputed Rukyu island chain which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu since the discovery of natural gas around the isles as mentioned in this article in The Economist.

For this purpose, I arranged to interview a Japanese friend of mine from Hiroshima. This was of further advantage to me due to the dropping of the atom bomb in 1945 over the city, leading to a potential change in attitude of the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki towards the Americans.

Due to the sensitivity of this topic, I will not mention said person's name and other details, suffice to say that the above person knows what he/she is talking about.

I had also arranged for footage from Reuters and two documentary film makers. The Fukushima Film Collective had covered the speeches delivered by atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) on the subject of nuclear warfare, while David Rothauser had covered a memorial service that is conducted for hibakusha every year.

The Process

A day before the interview, I gave my friend a list of questions to provide answers to. 

I conducted the interview on Thursday afternoon at around five o'clock in the evening. The time difference between Oman and Japan is five hours. 

The entire conversation (with plenty of reminiscing) took around an hour, but I only took what was relevant for the interview.

Using screen capture software, I recorded the entire interview, edited it and then exported it in the form of an AVI file which was then worked upon using video editing software.

I had also taken screenshots of both Japanese and foreign newspapers with articles concerning Japanese policy. These along with the aforementioned footage were then overlaid on the interview, exported and then uploaded.

The Tools

As mentioned above, Google Hangouts was used to conduct the interview.

Camtasia Screen Capture software was used to record the screen, while Adobe Premiere Pro was used to edit it.

All screengrabs were edited using MS Paint.

Technical Difficulties

While conducting the interview via Google Hangout, I faced a lot of technical difficulties which are chronicled below:

1.) Noise from the internal microphone

I did not know this at the time, but the internal microphone I used to record the interview had static in the background which was heard during playback.

What I could have done is try to select the microphone on my headset as my default communication device or buy an independent microphone and plug it in.

On reflection, I should have first tried out my mic to see if it was fine and then downloaded software to eliminate that noise.

2.) The repetition of my voice on the speakers of my interviewee

While I had my headphones on, my interviewee was speaking into the internal microphone of his laptop. This meant that I was able to hear myself speaking twice, once when I spoke and the other when he received my questions.

I should have asked my interviewee to arrange for a pair of headphones to nullify that.

This meant that while his speech was recorded only once, mine was recorded twice and made for difficult interpretation while it was being viewed.

3.) Time lag between speech and video output during the interview

The reason for the above was the low bandwidth of a standard internet connection in Oman. This meant that while both mine and my interviewee's speech was mostly clear, the video broke constantly.

The only way to solve this would have been to increase the bandwidth of my connection thereby getting a new internet plan, because my laptop was right next to the wireless router. Using a LAN cable did not improve the situation.

The same is the reason for the low video quality, which at least could have been bettered by purchasing a web cam instead of using the in-built one.

4.) Voice breakage during the interview

Once again, this was a problem that could have been solved using a stronger connection.

During the interview, both our voices broke at times because of the distance between us and the previously mentioned low bandwidth.

It was also very noticeable immediately after one person had finished speaking and another had just begun to speak, usually when I asked my interviewee a question and said interviewee had just begun to answer.

That was also the reason there was a slight misunderstanding in the question-answer sequence wherein I interrupted my interviewee quite a few times.

5.) Slow render time

While using Adobe Premiere Pro, it took about an hour to render the video the first time. This was due to the availability of free RAM on my laptop.

I have eight GB of RAM on my system and in increase in RAM would have surely helped with that. That being said, it would have caused increased heating of the system, because my laptop came with only four GB to start with. I already use a cooling fan to negate the heating effect of the extra four gigabytes of RAM.

However I found out that allowing Premiere Pro to use previews of the edit decreased the render time from an hour and 12 minutes to around six minutes.

6.) Extremely slow YouTube upload speed

The estimated upload time for the uploading of the 13 and a half minute video was around two thousand minutes, or close to 35 hours.

While I do not upload very frequently onto YouTube, that meant it would take a little more than two hours to  upload one minute of the video.

An increase in bandwidth could have helped here.

7.) I should have dressed professionally

While this is not a technical error, it is important to dress professionally, even if this is only an experiment.

Professionalism gives you that extra edge and gets both you and your interviewee in the spirit of the interview, which varies greatly from subject to subject, as mentioned by Joan Curtis (Curtis, 2012)

A lot of these problems could have been solved if I had more time to work on the project. In addition, to reduce the number of glitches you face, experiment with the software with a friend before the actual interview, as I did with the Hangout software a friend in Australia.

The same is recommended in The Everything Job Interview Book: All You Need to Stand Out in Today's Competitive Job Market (Gensing-Pophal, 2011), which says that a large number of companies are now turning to videoconferencing as a mode of interviewing potential candidates.


The following are the merits of interviewing through Google Hangouts:

1.) It's free, which means you don't have to pay for calls unlike on Skype.

2.) Through Google Hangouts, it is possible to chat with multiple people, thereby allowing you to interview multiple people simultaneously, which is once again a Premium feature on Skype.

3.) Google Hangouts, like Skype, are easy to use in today's information age, and most people are comfortable with the utilisation of such digital technology (Lederman, n.d.)

4.) Sarah Blackford says that the presence of Skype (and by extension Hangouts) allows for national and international interviewing for little or no money (Blackford, 2012), as I have shown here.

5.) As demonstrated here, it greatly slashes costs in terms of telephone and - more importantly - travel bills - that are usually necessary during an interview according to Irving Seidman, who promotes the utilisation of Skype - and Google Hangout - interviews (Seidman, 2012).

6.) I interviewed an individual in Japan and carried out a test to see if the Google Hangout software worked by interviewing a friend in Australia, showing the wide variety of people I could interview via this method. The same is mentioned by Chris Grams (Grams, 2012)

The availability of Google Hangouts gave me a lift after I realised that the access of Skype in Oman was not easy. You don't have to agree with me, just ask Skype Product Designer Rodrigo Madanes, who says:

"The most important thing is that even though we felt in the in the '90s that the internet was having a big impact in people's lives, we're seeing in this decade that it is reconstructing a lot of industries and shifting a lot of value around while improving people's lives."
(Jones, 2008) 


The following are the disadvantages I encountered while using Google Hangouts:

1.) Like Skype, Google Hangouts poses the following problems, which have been chronicled by Joan Curtis (Curtis, 2012) :

  • There are distortions in the visual feed that is seen on-screen, which means that slight actions (such as a shrug of the shoulders) could be missed, thereby enabling either side to miss out on vital non-verbal signs of communication.
  • There is a time-lag between the audio and video input and output and this delayed reaction will lead to a potential misunderstanding or miscommunication between the two parties.
  • Poor quality or fuzzy video output is another issue that many people face during an online interview, which can be improved with a better internet connection.
I experienced all of these problems during my interview experiment.

2.) In an online interview, both parties generally tend to look at the other person on the screen, rather than at a the camera. It is important to maintain eye-contact during an interview to show that you are paying attention and not distracted during the interview. I remembered this during my interview, as recommended by Philip C. Kolin (Kolin, 2012).

3.) The above mentioned technical difficulties and glitches

4.) A dependence on technology, which means that a power failure or the crash of an Internet Service Provider at either end could result in the loss of your interview.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The following are concerns of a legal and ethical nature that I had to face while conducting the interview:

1.) Given the sensitive nature of interview, I cannot disclose the name and other details of my interviewee. Clause 14 of the Code of Practice drafted by the Society of Editors (UK) says that journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.

2.) Chris Grams mentions that it is absolutely vital that you take permission - preferably in the form of written consent - before you begin recording your interview (Grams, 2012).

3.) Even if you have recorded your interview, there is an ethical dilemma wherein an interviewee can raise questions about whether the interview will actually be used for its intended purpose. A study by the Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada did some analysis on the subject (Bertrand and Bourdeau, 2012), which was then used in a European Conference on Research Methods in Business Management in Madrid, Spain.

4.) As mentioned above, there could be some nations where Skype and Google (as in Ethiopia) are banned by the ruling government, and your interviewee could be residing in said nation.

5.) Always remember to provide a copy of your final interview (if it's pre-recorded) to the interviewee, as Irving Seidman says that all interviewees have the right to review what they have said (Seidman, 2012) and failure do so could result in facing legal charges.

6.) As in the case of Skype, a Google Hangout interview may be used to contact somebody when he/she is at home, similar to the way my interviewee was. Make sure you don't intrude into their personal life, as they may not like it (Curtis, 2012) and stick to the subject.

7.) Any information that is recorded on Google Hangouts will surely have some copyright claim by Google and if this is to be used commercially, will have to be ratified by all parties concerned first.

8.) Never ever use an interview for anything other than its intended purpose. This will come back to bite you in a bad way.

Future potential:

Personally, I see Google Hangouts as a great way to conduct interviews, not just where Skype is banned, but in other regions as well.

A study conducted by the University of Laval, Quebec interviewed a total of five test subjects, all of whom said they would consider using Skype as a method of interviewing people (Bertrand and Bourdeau, 2012). The same idea can surely be used for Google Hangouts.

Outside the field of journalism, since several international companies throughout the world are turning to Skype when it comes to videoconferencing and interviews (Grensing-Pophal, 2011), Google Hangouts could also be used for conference calls and interviews.

Of course, to do all this, you need a Google account.

Until Next Time,



Aziz, R. A., 2012. Skype is still blocked. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 February 2013].

Bertrand, C. & Bourdeau, L., 2010. Research Interviews by Skype, a new Data Collection Method. In: J. Esteves, ed. Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Research Methods in Business Management. Madrid: Academic Conferences Limited, pp. 70-78.

Blackford, S., 2012. Career Planning for Research Bioscientists. 1st ed. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Chanlett-Avery, E. & Rinehart, I. E., 2012. The U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.

Curtis, J. C., 2012. Hire Smart and Keep 'Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT. 1st ed. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Dower, John W., 1999. Embracing defeat : Japan in the wake of World War II. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co/New Press.

Gensing-Pophal, L., 2011. The Everything Job Interview Book: All You Need to Stand Out in Today's Competitive Job Market. 1st ed. Avon, Minnesota: Adams Media.

Grams, C., 2011. The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World. 1st ed. London: Pearson Publishing.

Isachenkov, V., 2011. Security on NBC News. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 February 2013].

Jones, B. L., 2008. Web 2.0 Heroes: Interviews with 20 Web 2.0 Influencers. 1st ed. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons.

Kolin, P. C., 2013. Successful Writing at Work. 3rd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Lederman, M. T., n.d. Heroes Get Hired: How To Use Your Military Experience to Master the Interview. 1st ed. New York: NBC.

Ministry of Defense, Japan, n.d. Fundamental Concepts of National Defense. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 February 2013].

Seidman, I., 2012. Interviewing As Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences. 1st ed. New York: Teachers College Press.

Society of Editors, 2012. Editors’ Code of Practice. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 February 2013].

Wilson, C., 2012. Ethiopia Criminalizes Skype. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 February 2013].

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Podcasts: How mine was made and what I think of it

I like podcasts. They're fun to listen to, are packed full of facts and analysis, are interesting because they tend to go behind the scenes, can be listened to practically anywhere and don't require your full attention.

But what is a podcast, for those of you who don't know?

A podcast is a piece of audio (or video, more recently) that is published periodically in the form of episodes that you can listen to on a particular website and/or download. It's a portmanteau of the words iPod and broadcast, given that the initial success of the podcast 

The Concept

Last year, when I was working, I found out that making podcasts can be fun too. What you see at the top of this post is one of several podcasts made by me when I was working as an editor for a sport website called

Based in Bangalore, India, this company was looking for ways to expand its reader base and my colleagues and I arrived at the idea of a football podcast, which I had first mentioned to management during my job interview with the company. 

Since the idea of a podcast was quite different from that of print (which was primarily what we dealt with) and videos, it was accepted by everyone rather well. Moreover, it provided us with an opportunity to expand our reader base horizontally (more variety with the same content) that vertically (more content with the same variety).

In fact, so good was its acceptance that a cricket podcast was also conceptualised and created a couple of weeks after the first football podcast was aired.

The Idea

The idea of the podcast came to me around mid-September. 

Christened 'The Footy Mumble' - taking inspiration from The Football Ramble, one of Britain's most successful football podcasts - the Mumble took a pre and post match analysis at the weekend's upcoming games primarily in the English Premier League and at times cast a glance at the Spanish Primera Liga and Europe's cup competitions, the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup. 

The maiden edition of the podcast is right at the top of this post, while another edition can be found about midway through the post.

We would also shed some light over pertinent issues in football, such as the presence of racism in the sport, the introduction of the much talked about goal line technology and how the Union of European Football Associations' (UEFA) Financial Fair Play (FFP), which would give all clubs a level financial playing field given the recent presence of billionaire owners at football clubs, would effect the game all across Europe.

Our targeted audience being mainly Indian football fans, the idea was for our in-house journalists to voice their opinions on the above topics.

With most podcasts on football originating from either Europe or North America, the plan was to bond with the Indian audience and put them in their comfort zone on the basis of the podcast being produced and hosted by Indians in India.

The Process

The first plan of action was to create a script for the podcast. 

That in itself was pretty easy, since the match previews, results and other issues in football made the script flow quite nicely. 

While that was being scripted, those of us who would be on the podcast were to research facts pertinent to the games that would be or had taken place.

Only those of us who actually had watched the games would speak on episodes which featured post-match analysis.

Normally around 30 minutes long, it was to be divided into two halves, with two - sometimes three - journalists coming in for the first half, with 'substitutions' being made at half time where two or three (depending on the above) would come in to replace those who had spoken during the first half.

This was done with the intention of not keeping the 'pod' - as we called it - monotonous.

We also had a host whose job was to poke us with questions both general (what is your opinion on tomorrow's game between Arsenal and Chelsea?) and specific (Wayne Rooney scored two goals last night for Manchester United at Liverpool. Will he define United's season?) while remaining impartial.

The first couple of podcast recordings took well over an hour to record, because people used to fumble their lines while recording was underway. Since most of what was said was opinion and therefore impromptu, many takes were required to get it right. As people grew more familiar with the process, however, podcasts were wrapped up in around forty minutes.

The tools

One of my intentions with the publication of this post is to show that a podcast can be made with very little financial investment. was a start-up entrepreneur-based company, which meant investment came from external sources in cycles. I knew therefore that money towards the podcast would not be of a large amount. But that was not my intention anyway.

We recorded the podcast in a storage room where merchandise was kept, off the main office, which shows that a basic podcast doesn't require a recording studio. Our recording device, Windows Sound Recorder with the three (or four) of us sitting around it, giving our views.

Myself and a fellow colleague were the ones held responsible for the editing of the podcast, which was once again done through very simple software, which in this case was Adobe Audition. It took about half an hour to edit the podcast, after which it was uploaded onto SoundCloud, where there existed an official Sportskeeda account.

That was then embedded into an article, published on the site and then shared via Twitter and Facebook.

The entire process took maybe two and a half hours at most and cost the company absolutely nothing.

What could I have done better?

Since this podcast was very basic, on reflection, I could have done a lot more, which would have unfortunately cost money.

Like the Barclays Premier League podcast, we could have invited fans to phone in and fit that into the recording, giving listeners a chance to hear one of their own, increasing the bond between us and our audience base. But that would require a recorder and a telephone jack, since recording off a mobile phone would also record the cellphone signal sounds as well.

One of the biggest elements of a podcast is music. Unfortunately we never had any and although some of my former colleagues did take efforts and produce a sample opening sequence, it was never followed up.

But a cheaper (and nearly free) alternative which I thought of just now while writing this blog post is giving people the number of our Sportskeeda phone line and then recording that off a mobile phone.

Like James Richardson's European Football round-up for The Guardian, we could have taken a look at newspapers and what they said about transfers and what their columnists said about matches, both those that were being played and those that would be played. That would have been free as well. Sources on Twitter could have been used as well.

Talking about new transfers in and out of clubs is always an ear-grabber, and although we did do that to some extent, we could have done more.

With permission from either British football clubs, the Premier League or the football association, we could have gotten a sound byte from some of the Premier League coaches and players. I would suggest some of the other leagues but few people in India know a foreign language apart from English, which was the language the podcast was in anyway. But that would have come with a commercial fee.

It would have also helped to get a few famous personages from India, either via phone or in the studio. Football Fever, the podcast of international football website, for example, featured in one of their podcasts former Indian League-winning coach Karim Bencherifa, football columnist Neil Humphries, former BBC World and Real Madrid TV presenter Mayur Bhanji and Malaysian sport channel Astro Sport's executive producer Jason Dasey.

Corporate sponsorship towards the podcast might have helped it bring in funds to the company, thereby promoting its overall growth.

I had considered getting us a subscription to the news aggregating software Burli, but it turned out to be too expensive at the time. 

The podcast was not shared enough, neither was it advertised the right way or given its own spot on the site. But I cannot blame those who were sharing the podcast as they did their utmost to make sure it got views.


The podcast was a moderate success after its inception. That was expected, since it would grow with time, as do all things. Rome was not built in a day and all that.

But it was put on hiatus around the month of November due to a lack of resources in terms of manpower at the company and I left the company soon afterwards.

Merits and Demerits of the podcast:


1.) Increased the horizontal development on the site, giving visitors more variety and expanding the reader base

2.) Came at little or no cost

3.) Was an excellent way to increase the brand name of the site and bond with visitors since the podcast was produced for and by Indians

4.) Made one of the few Indian sport companies to have a podcast catered to the Indian audience.

5.) Did not require a specific recording studio. All that was needed was a quiet room.

6.) Gave birth to a cricket podcast, christened 'Inside Out'.


1.) The potential of the podcast was blunted by the lack of equipment which could have made it better, but would have come at a cost.

2.) We were unable to get quotes from personages which would have surely added depth and quality to the podcast, neither did we get people to phone in and air their views on our topics, which would have helped increase the site to listener bond.

3.) We only spoke about a limited number of topics, which reduced our potential audience base. More topics, such as transfers or the opinions of internationally recognised columnists would have certainly increased both the quality of the content and - as mentioned above - a bigger audience base. Music would have helped there as well.

4.) A corporate endorsement in the podcast would have surely helped in bringing in funds for the company, which would have made it more worthwhile from a business perspective.

5.) We were unable to share the podcast nor promote it enough, thereby reducing the number of listeners it attracted. Had it been given it's own space on the site as well, listeners might have tuned in.

Legal and Ethical Considerations:

1.) Had we decided to follow up on our transfer stories, sharing of information that we received through direct messages or protected accounts on Twitter from reliable sources would have been a breach of confidentiality, leading to a potential legal wrangle. There are many people on Twitter who work at football clubs and tweet news from there covertly, and the discussion of that news may be construed illegal. According to McNae's Essential Law for Journalists (2009), the elements of a breach of confidence are:

  • The information must have the necessary quality of confidence i.e. shared only with those people who were authorised to access this information in the first place, which is usually a small number.
  • The information must have been imparted in circumstances which show the aforementioned loss of confidence.
  • There must be an unauthorised use of that information which is detrimental to the party which first communicated that information.
But the above laws pertain not just to transfer stories, but any information that was generated from a confidential source would have been a legal no-no.

Although the above information has been taken from a book that explains British law, the same holds good for Indian confidentiality agreement laws as well, since they are nearly the same as laws in the UK. The same was enshrined in the Information Technology Act of 2000 (Legal Service India, 2009) and was further analysed in a report published by the European High Commission  titled the Overview of Data Protection Laws in India.

A paper published by the Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security of the European Union (First Analysis of the Personal Data protection Law in India, 2005) also confirms the same according to Section 72 of the Indian Information Act, 2000. In addition, it says:

"Any person who, in pursuance of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder, has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such electronic record  book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both." (Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security, 2005)

2.) Had we decided to analyse what a columnist had said, we would have had to ensure that our statements towards said person were not seen in a defamatory way whatsoever.

McNae's Essential Laws for Journalists (2009) says that a defamatory statement is one that tends to:
  • Expose the person to ridicule, contempt or hatred
  • Cause the person to be shunned or avoided
  • Lower the person in the estimation of the right-thinking members of society
  • Disparage the person in his trade, office or profession
The words 'tends to' are very important here, the book says, since the test for defamation is if under the given circumstances of the defamation, "reasonable men and women to whom the publication was made would be likely to understand it in defamatory sense".

This is present in Indian law as well, as mentioned by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution (Civil Defamation: 
Undermining Free Expression, 2009) and is punishable under the Section 499, Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code (The Indian Penal Code, 1860: Chapter XXI, on Defamation, 2009).

In relation to the same, law firm Kelly-Warner says that according to Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code:

"Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person" (Defamation Laws In India, 2012).

In the same article, the firm also says that defamation via the internet is punishable for upto three years and a fine according to Article 66A of the Indian Information Technology Act of 2000. 

But social media sites are exempt from the above rule, the site says, as long as said defamation has been caused by third parties and the networking site has only acted as a communicator of the alleged defamation, according to Section 79 of the Indian Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008, which became law in February 2009 (Defamation Laws In India, 2012).

3.) Even if we had mentioned confidential information, we would have had to reveal our sources if asked for the same. 

Although the law guarantees protection of sources, that source then ceases to have the same ability with which to provide us - and the general public - of the information he/she has worked hard to collect.

Clause 14 of the Code of Practice published by the Society of Editors in the UK says that "journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information" (Banks and Hanna, 2009).

In addition, Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1981 (UK), says that:

"No court may require a person to disclose, nor is any person guilty of contempt of court for refusing to disclose the source of information contained in a publication for which he is responsible unless it is established to the satisfaction of the court that disclosure is necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime" (Banks and Hanna, 2009).

In India, Section 15(2) of the Press Council of India Act provides protection to a journalist when it comes to revealing his sources, but these are only applicable to proceedings in front of the Press Council. A Court can ask for these sources if it sees fit. (Press Laws Guide, 2011)

But Robin Ackroyd, a freelance journalist who was in the midst of a seven-year legal battle with the UK's National Health Service to reveal his sources over his reporting on a murder case. He ultimately won his case, saying:

“Journalists protect their sources because they have a professional duty of confidence to them. It is not a standpoint we take because we are being difficult or precious. I do not reveal confidential sources of information as an overriding matter of conscience”. (Hudson & Rowlands, 2007)

Never ever use an interview for anything other than its intended purpose. This will come back to bite you in a bad way.

That, in short, is the story of my podcast and the legal and ethical ramifications that go with it. I apologise for the legal mumbo-jumbo being so long, but it was necessary in order to give you all the details of my tryst with podcasting.

Until Next Time,



Banks, D. and Hanna, M. (2009) McNae's Essential Law for Journalists. 20th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, p.304-305, 508, 515.

Chawla, M. (n.d.) Overview of Data Protection Laws in India. [e-book] New Delhi: p.1-2. [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

CRID (2005) First Analysis of the Personal Data protection Law in India. [e-book] Namur: University of Namur. p.28, 30, 32, 35. Available through: European Commission's Directorate General for Justice [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

Helpline Law: Legal Solution Worldwide (2008) Chapter XXI: Of Defamation, Secton 29. [online] Available at:,%201860/CHAPTER%20XXI%20OF%20DEFAMATION [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

Hudson, G., & Rowlands, S. (2007). The Broadcast Journalism Handbook. Harlow: Pearson.

Kelly-Warner Law (2012) Defamation Laws in India. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

Legal Service India (2009) Breach of Privacy and Confidentiality under Information Technology Act, 2000. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

Spencer, O. (2009) Civil Defamation: Undermining Free Expression. [e-book] London: Free Word Centre. p.3,5. Available through: Article 19 [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

The Hoot: Watching Media in the Subcontinent (2011) Press Laws Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Feb 2013].

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ten tips to follow for a good interview

Interviews are crucial when it comes to contributing to the crux of any story. It is therefore best to plan your interview well in advance to keep the hurdles you may face during one.

The following list of guidelines can be followed by professionals in the field as well as university students.

While there may be others who tell you that their way is better, here is what I do to prepare for an interview.

1.) Do send in a list of questions to the interviewee:

Sending in a list of questions to your interviewee a day or two before your interview means he has time to prepare for what you will be asking him/her during the interview.

While the element of surprise is always an excellent curve-ball to catch your interviewee off guard, the last thing you want is for him/her to be stuttering or stammering his way through an answer. 

There are many professionals who will also not agree to an interview unless you send them a list of questions in advance. You're going to have to prepare a list of questions anyway, so why not just send your interviewee the same?

Of course, this works only for diary events. Off-diary events, such as a car crash or a bomb blast will obviously not allow for this luxury.

2.) Do your research before the interview:

Whoever you are speaking to has taken time out of their day to give you their focused unwavering attention. It is therefore right that you do your research into what exactly you want to ask them about the subject in question.

If, for example, you are covering a fire and you are speaking to a fire marshal, do your research - if it is available - as to how the fire started, how many people died or were injured etc. If the area wherein the fire has taken place is prone to fires or has seen fires in the past, let your research cover that as well.

You can then ask the fire marshal deeper questions that scratch underneath the surface such as 'what was the extent of the blaze when you arrived at the scene?'.

If of course, there is no data available for the above, ask the fire marshal about the same and incorporate that into your voiceover, letting only the human interest segment of that story come from the marshal himself/herself.

Use the data you get from research to form questions and pose these questions to your interviewee.

3.) Do conduct your interview in a comfortable, quiet location

Noise can be quite off-putting to both the interviewer and the interviewee. Trying to make yourself heard over a rather loud noise is not easy at any time, let alone an interview.

When conducted in a quiet atmosphere, an interview is easy to conduct. There is no shouting at the other over a loud noise, which can directly affect the mood of both parties and therefore the quality of the interview. 'When is this interview going to end so I can get out of here' is not a thought that you want to put into your interviewee's head.

The atmosphere in which an interview is conducted can also affect the confidence of the interviewer which in turn could lead to you botching your own interview, making it look very bad when aired in public. The same can be said about space, as you want both yourself and the interviewee to be comfortable while conducting an interview to ensure you get the best out of the other person.

I made that mistake once, when I interviewed Scott Marshall, the former Arsenal left-back who runs the Arsenal Soccer School in the Sultanate of Oman. The only place comfortable enough in the building was just inside the lobby, which was unfortunately situated right next to a bank of elevators.

While I did get a very good interview, I wish I had chosen a better location so that his speech was punctured by the 'ping' of the elevators every ten seconds. By the time I had realised my mistake, it was too late.

4.) Do pay attention to what your interviewee is saying

'You were sleepy and showed a total lack in interest in what your interviewee was saying. Your apparent boredom means he will not want to be interviewed by you again' is what one of my mentors told me while I was on work experience.

It was one of the best lessons I have ever been taught. You must remember that you are interviewing someone because it is your job and you are paid to be professional, whether you like the subject or not.

Showing interest in the subject matter will make the interviewee want to open up more and maybe reveal information which he/she would not have otherwise imparted to you, and that quite often can be the difference between a good interview and a great one.

On the contrary, a lack of interest in the subject means that the interviewee will not want to impart to you the information he/she has, meaning you will be left with a poor interview. With the interviewee wondering why he ever agreed to be interviewed by you in the first place, it is very likely your audience will be left wanting a great deal more out of it that what you gave them when the interview was aired.

5.) Do remember to show your interviewee the final product

Often, you will come across an interviewee who is sharing with you information he/she believes is private or news that he/she has uncovered while conducting his/her own research.

At these times, they will ask you to show them a copy of your work to make sure no one else takes credit for what they have done. With good reason: they did not put in all this hard work to not see any reward in the end did they?

Sometimes, you will not be allowed to publish an interview before showing them the final product. They may want emendations or removals to what you are about to publish, which if left in there could lead to libellous action against your organisation: a definite no-no.

Even if they do not ask for it, it is always courtesy to provide them with the interview. It makes the interviewee feel valued and is very likely to be approachable the next time you want help from him/her. I was once asked to show my final production to a PhD research fellow who I had interviewed in the context of football academies in Britain.

For legal reasons, I will not mention his name, but since he was revealing to me information he had acquired through his own research, he had asked me for a copy of my work.

6.) Don't forget to check if you have all your equipment before setting out

Picture this if you will. You arrive at your designated location ahead of time and are waiting impatiently for your interviewee. Nervous, yet excited, you tap your fingers in a restless tone against the hand-rest of the plush leather sofa on which you sit.

Your interviewee gets here. You greet them, usher them into a seat, take out your camera and begin to record. But wait, what's that flashing? You've never seen that before, except when...'ve forgotten to insert your memory card into your camera.

Forgetting to bring your equipment means both you and your interviewee have lost precious time. If a story is due today and that slot was the only opportunity you had for an interview, forgetting to bring your equipment probably means it will crash and burn, something that is a professional no-no.

I know so because I once had such an experience. I was to interview a representative of the Football Association but had forgotten my tapes at home. Luckily for me, though, I was able to reschedule for later that day, but my relief at being able to do so was mingled with a sense of me wanting to kick myself for being so stupid in the first place.

Also check if all your equipment actually works before you leave. Make sure your camera batteries are charged, your headphones work, so on and so forth.

7.) Don't forget to take permission from the parent/guardian of a minor if you want to interview them

Up and coming starlets are present in several fields in today's world, be they a rising singer, an athlete who has made waves or a student who has received a full scholarship to a prestigious university because they got a centum in school.

Either way, interviewing a person under the age of 16 is both unethical and illegal and is punishable by law in most nations, unless you have the express consent of the person's parent or guardian such as a school principal, coach, manager etc.

According to the Code of Practice published by the Society of Editors in the UK, Article six states that:

i.) Young people must be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion

ii) A child under sixteen must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child's welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents

iii) Pupils must not be approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school authorities

iv) Minors must not be paid for material involving children's welfare, nor parents or their guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest

v.) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's life.

The above law is subject to public interest, which in this case, as mentioned by the Society of Editors means:

"In cases involving children under 16, editors must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to override the normally paramount interest of the child."

As long as you explain to whoever is concerned why you want to interview the child and get them to sign a consent form - like I did when I filmed some kids who were being put through their paces at a youth football academy - you should be fine.

8.) Do show empathy to your interviewee if you are talking about a sensitive subject

Often during your journalistic career, you will be asked to interview the family of a victim of an accident or someone who has lost a loved one to illness.

In this case, you must empathise with the person, and show that you feel their pain. You must understand that whoever you are speaking to is hurting and may not want to be prodded about their feelings right now. Break whatever subject it is you have come to interview the person about extremely gently and if they do not wish to talk about a particular subject, veer away from that topic and come back to it later. If you do go overboard in pressing them, it is almost certain that they will refuse to speak to you further and will not want to proceed with the interview.

Phrases like 'I understand this must be hard for you to deal with' and 'clearly this is a bad time for you' always help, but it is important that you are sincere in your commiserations with the interviewee as they will not like it if (most likely when) they find out you are being insincere in your solace. Nobody like being duped, especially in situations like this and they will tell you to leave in very clear terms.

Similar situations will demand similar attitudes when talking with the interviewee.

There have been reports in the past of journalists who have sent flowers to the family of the bereaved as a symbol of commiseration, with the sole intention of getting an interview. This is a very immoral act and must never be attempted.

9.) Be impartial

Remember that you are a messenger. As a professional journalist, you are not entitled to have an opinion when you are in the field.

You are merely a middle-man between the subject and the audience and it is important that you maintain your neutrality. If you are interviewing an individual who has committed adultery, for example, you cannot say 'did you sleep with X?'. That will probably infuriate your interviewee and he/she will probably leave and end the interview abruptly.

What you could say instead is 'people are saying that you slept with X. What do you have to say about this?'.

If you are interviewing, let us assume, the defence minister of a nation over the sale of missiles to another nation, 'Did you sell missiles to Y?' is not how you would phrase it especially if your claims are unfounded. What you could ask him/her instead is 'The people want to know if you sold missiles to Y. What do you have to say to them?'.

Always remember that whoever you are interviewing is not obliged to speak to you and they are doing you a favour by doing so. Their feelings are paramount and must be regarded.

10.) This last one's a two pointer
a.) Don't ask your interviewee questions that have very short answers.

Not only do short answers make an interview extremely short, they also make all parties - the audience, the interviewee and the journalist - feel awkward during the interview because of it's short length.

If you are at a fair, for example, 'did you enjoy the fair?' is not the way you would pose a question. Instead, ask you interviewee questions like 'how was the fair?', 'what did you like about the fair?' etc.

Questions that provide yes or no answers are also a no-no, unless of course that is the intention.

b.) Check whether you have successfully recorded your interview

After you finish your interview, make sure you have successfully recorded all of it. Just ask your interviewee whether they could hang around for a couple of minutes while you check whether you have gotten all of your interview.

You might have plugged in the earphones or microphone into the wrong jack, might have accidentally muted your volume button, or done any of a myriad number of other mistakes that could have led to you not getting your interview. These things can also happen while you transport your equipment despite you not having done anything wrong.

It takes an extra couple of minutes, but it one of the most important steps in an interview.

These are ten very vital points that have helped me throughout my journalistic career. I hope they help you as well.

And last but not the least, and I cannot stress this enough, never ever forget to thank your interviewee once you have finished your interview!

Until Next Time,