Sharing local history through podcasts

A chat at a local coffeehouse last week with one of my volunteers working on ideaLab Heritage has netted an exciting project that can be incorporated into my ideaLab participation with the Journal Register Co.

Since my goal is to get technology in the hands of staff and have them incorporate the latest and greatest tools available in their reporting, this project fits nicely.

Michael McVey, a Saline resident and assistant professor in the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University, and I were chatting and I knew he produced podcasts, so I asked him about them.

Initially, I wondered if there was any value in having one of my reporters read individual stories for a podcast we could make available on our website so people could listen to the news rather than reading it. I thought they could click on the daily headlines and opt to click on a podcast report rather than read the story online. This thought was inspired by my daily workouts at Liberty Athletic Club in Ann Arbor, where I see a handful of people trying to read the newspaper while running the treadmill or exercising on the stationary bikes.

McVey, however, said he didn’t think it would catch on based on his own experience, but maybe we could try something else. That’s when we came up with the idea of historic walking tours of the Saline and Milan communities. The idea is to feature a historic building or deceased mover and shaker every week or two, with two- to three-minute-long stories shared by a member of the local historical society.

We would build on our podcasts over the years and end up with a wonderful archive of each community’s history featured in a drop-down menu on our home page.

If this catches on and enough interest is generated, my staff and I could tackle all eight communities that we cover.

I still have a lot to learn about podcasts, as I know nothing at this point, but McVey said we could incorporate photos and video. He sent me some links to his work, as well as a link to a podcast on podcasting, and we talked a little about equipment, which is really just a good microphone.

We also talked about getting all of the stakeholders involved, from training staff to engaging the historical societies and local libraries.

We hope to start this project in October and Milan has offered a great opportunity. The historical society will be leading a tour of Marble Park Cemetery with a talk on deceased prominent residents at dusk Oct. 20.

My next move is to reach out to both historical societies, check out McVey’s podcast on podcasting and look into buying a microphone. My next meeting with him is Sept. 30, so I’ll update you on my progress at that time.

In the meantime, I welcome your comments and input. Do you have any experience with podcasting?

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3 Comments on “Sharing local history through podcasts”

  1. Sam Piroton Says:

    Hello Michelle,
    here is a link to the mic i use for sound only stuff. It’s really easy to use; SD card memory, you can either insert the card into a reader or plug the recorder on USB port. Very good sound quality. Light.
    http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=757

    Then, i would suggest audacity to produce the podcast.

    Really like your blog! Keep on the good job!

  2. Sam Piroton Says:

    Just a quick add-on, here is a link to a good mp3 player for websites:
    http://www.alsacreations.fr/dewplayer-en.html

  3. David Rhoads Says:

    As President of the Saline Area Historical Society, I am sure the Society will be pleased to support such a historical record.


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