Our new logo!

HSS LOGO colour testBig thanks to Kate Romain for our new House of Sound and Story logo!

She captured the mood beautifully. What I wanted was a relaxed little cottage where books are read and also connecting with listeners.

I know it’s the age of the internet and there are ways to connect other than radio transmitters. I am very sentimental about radio, because of all the radio studios I’ve worked in over the years doing stories for the airwaves. Hence the transmitter.

Airwaves, fibre optic or through your cell phone, whatever it takes to get the story from my imagination to your ears! (And I still do radio!)


Podcast Listenership Is Up Drastically!

This is music to my ears.  This news comes from a whole bunch of different sources, including the esteemed Edison Podcast Consumer Report, which they’ve done yearly since way before most people didn’t know what podcasting was.  At first, it was only Edison reporting on who was listening, but now it’s the same news from many different sources.  So we know.  Podcasting is a thing.

I started my first podcast back in 2005, way before there was Itunes or even an Iphone.  In those early days, I had to explain constantly what a podcast was.  Trying to download a podcast was really tricky because there wasn’t much development yet on the delivery side of things.  I am so glad that podcasting is now something that isn’t unusual.  And that it’s easy to listen. Even my 85 year old mother knows what a podcast is. Progress.

Today’s bit of reassurance that indeed podcasting is growing comes from a relatively new online magazine called Podcast Business Journal.  When I first found that this publication exists, it was a sign that yes, indeed, podcasting is growing.  We can now say that podcasting is a real business. Unlike in the early days when it was a hobby.  Now it can be a hobby, a business or a combination of the two.

The article is called Podcasting Listening Up Drastically!  Yay!

Radio drama for fun!

For a long time I’ve thought “wouldn’t it be fun to do radio dramas?”

So I’m organizing a meetup. We’ll read through a couple of old time radio scripts, drink coffee or beer and have a good time.

Location: TLC Bistro, 41 Maple Ave, Barrie Ontario
Date and Time: Saturday January 20th, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

No registration fee. This is just for fun. But bring money for snacks or drinks.

You don’t have to be a performer. You can be part of the audience.

If you want to be a participant, contact me and I’ll let you know what scripts we’re using so you can print them out. And practise if you want.

Contact: vlfenner@gmail.com

Music Use and Podcasting


I work with a lot of podcast and video producers who ask me the same question:  “Can I use music in my production?”

Simple answer:  Yes.  More complicated answer:  it depends on the music you want to use.

Generally speaking, you can’t just take a CD from your collection and choose a track.  (I come from a radio background.  We could do it there because radio stations have complex agreements that have been negotiated with the rights holders of most music which is commercially available.  It was heaven.)

Podcasters and video producers do not have those blanket agreements.  So what you’d have to do is go to each publisher and each record label to get the rights for every track you want to use.

How feasible is this?  Short answer – not.   It’s likely going to be expensive and convoluted.  You are going to miss your deadline.

Unless … the music you want to use if from a small independently released CD.  The response time is usually much quicker, and they’re usually much more accommodating.

What I usually do is keep a library of independent music by musicians and publishers I know.  I never have any trouble getting the rights.  I usually offer to pay them a bit and they’re even happier.  (I am also fortunate to have an in-house music department — my partner Edward St. Moritz can usually be persuaded to play some music for me on guitar.  And you can hire him for a reasonable fee if you want – he’d be happy to talk to you.)

Other solutions — there are nice people out there who will let you use their music for free because they’re unselfish people who like to share.  Or don’t have to recoup their artistic investment because they already have a well paying job.  Google “Podsafe Music” to find who they are.  You will often see the words “Creative Commons” after their name. This spells out what you can and can’t use their music for. (Some are specific that you can use their music for commercial purposes, others say non commercial only. And other criteria which they spell out in the license.)

And, you can also google “Public Domain” for music and recordings that are not covered by copyright. That’s a whole other subject.  A good one though. But it’s also a bit complicated.  A subject for another post, it is.

If you want to know more, I found a really good (and every entertaining) article about podcasting and copyright here.   It’s by a legal firm in the States named David Lizerbram and Associates. It refers frequently to banging one’s head against your desk.  Music copyright is like that.

Note to Canadian podcasters:  Do not follow the advice on fair use/fair dealing.  It’s accurate for Americans, but this is Canada.  Fair use is different up here.

I’m off to bang my head against a wall some more now while I pick some new theme music.

Microphones for Video – Your Built in Camera Microphone

soccer-floodlight-768482_960_720Okay – I’ll bet you’re wondering.  If we’re talking about microphones, why do I have a picture of a bunch of dudes playing soccer under a floodlight?

One thing you’ll notice about me is that I love analogies.

Look at the floodlight. Your built in microphone on your camera is like that floodlight.  The light illuminates the field, but no particular element in particular.  You can see the people but they’re small.

Your camera’s built in microphone is equivalent to a floodlight.  It picks up everything.  Just like you can’t see the details of any of the guy’s jackets, your microphone won’t pick up what any of them are saying.

Omni directional microphones are good for ambient sound. Like for example, if you’re at a game and want the roaring of the crowd.  Although, just like you will see things better which are closer to the source of the beam, you will also hear things closer to your microphone too.  That loudmouth guy right in front of you?  You’ll hear him really well.

A lot of people use their built in microphones to record speeches and panel discussions.  That doesn’t work so well, unless you’re really, really close to the person who’s speaking (like, a foot away, which isn’t usually how you want to frame the picture).  The further you are from the person who is speaking, the fuzzier and softer the voice will get.

And, that person sitting right beside you who has a nasty cough?  Forget trying to hear the person on the podium.  All you’ll hear is the cough.  And, if you hand him a cough drop, you’ll get the sound of the candy being unwrapped. Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle.

But don’t get discouraged.  There are lots of different kinds of microphones you CAN use.

Coming up in our next episode — The Unidirectional Microphone.





A Big Thank You!


I met Linda Dessau about five years ago through a mutual friend in Hamilton, Ontario. I was very impressed at the time that she was able to take a relatively new communications tool, blogging, and create a whole methodology to help people and businesses get their message out. A forward thinker, to be sure.

So I was really happy when Linda asked me if she could interview me about podcasting. Her blog post is now out. She did a great job of taking my ideas and condensing them into a format that works with her blog. One of Linda’s strengths is her ability to take many ideas and summarize our conversation in a concise form. Because that’s what blogging requires.

She was really specific about what she wanted to hear from me. I can talk for hours about podcasting … all kinds of podcasting. Interviews, documentaries and the whole range. Linda wanted me to talk about podcasting in the solo voice. I appreciated her sense of focus, and her ability to take a large idea and narrow it down to one specific topic.

That’s why she’s been so successful building her business around blogging for business.

Thanks so much, Linda!