First of all, your senior citizen granny or mum or auntie probably doesnt own a computer or, if she does, probably uses it for emailing the kids and for family pictures. She might belong to an online Forum but thats unlikely.
Her thoughts on Podcasting might be:
Microphones! Oh God, Im on stage, How embarrassing. I dont know what to say. Forget about it!
Get yourself something that will record telephone conversations to your hard
drive. Granny is used to the telephone. She can talk quite a while on the
telephone, especially if she is reassured that the cost is minimal because
you are using your computer to call. I use Skype. I can phone anywhere in
Canada or the United Stated to a regular phone. The cost is negligible. The
important part is while you are talking to granny on the telephone nowadays
using Skype with some additional software third-party software, you can record
your conversation to your hard drive. I found the audio quality to be fairly
good; not as good as a commercial recording but fine for the somewhat less
exacting medium of Podcasting.
A Podcast is A method of publishing audio files to the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Thus, you record, edit and then save the file in the Mp3 format for playback on the users listening device.
Call Mum or Grannie up and get her talking about the old days. Dont barrage her with a whole bunch of questions. Have a few really good questions ready to prime the pump and encourage her to ramble on. Dont worry if she doesnt follow your mental script. To quote the sound engineers famous words Well fix it when we mix it!
Get a good piece of sound editing software. I like the free one called Audacity and edit your sound file. You can save the good bits and edit out the boring bits. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
So youve plugged in a few reminders. Granny, remember when we used to go camping and we had a tent and there were mosquitoes and bears.
Shell go on about how the bears stole the blueberry pie and how she hooked your dad in the eyebrow when he was trying to teach her fly fishing The local vet pushed the hook through and snipped it off but wouldnt take pay because he wasnt supposed to treat humans. Thats a good story.
Now you piece those memories together. To older folks the past is sometimes more vivid than the present and the whole interview process should be a pleasant experience.
You can get the good stuff because you know where the buttons are. Youve heard these stories more than once. What you want is a sound file in her voice telling them. Just nail these stories down and your interest in what she is saying is going to put enthusiasm in her voice which is what you want with her natural voice, or his natural voice in the case of Granddad.
Once its edited, if you have the courage, play it back for Grandma. You shouldnt put it out there on the public scene unless shes had a listen. Emphasize the fact that its for family and grandkids first and it would make a very nice Christmas CD.
She may be very pleased with the whole thing and quite proud of herself. Never mind that you spent several hours editing what may end up being a relatively short audio file.
Its probably best to do these thing in 7 or 10 minute bursts of storytelling. When you are recording you can stop periodically and save and then start again. Its easier to edit short files and you can paste them together later.
Now the thing about the telephone is that youre not stuck with editing out plosives, those P and T sound explosions that pop right out and nail you in the ear when microphone recording. Doesnt seem to happened with the telephone.
This Podcast is just a guideline on how to record your family members and put the sound file out either as a personal family CD or as a Podcast. Once youve got the hang of it you can interview Uncle Ted and Aunt Addie, or Cousin Bill. Theres no end to it!
You might even be brave enough to use a computer microphone and recording software. I use Total Recorder or Audacity to record that way. You may have to fiddle with the settings to set it up for Microphone. Total Recorder is nice because you can schedule and record Internet radio broadcasts but thats another story.
I should mention that, although I am a Podcasting Granny, I am also a demi-tech. I used to do software application support and Im a retired Web master. Im used to public speaking and entertaining. Ive been a communicator my whole life. Lets just say that just because I do it it doesnt mean its easy for Granny, so give her a helping hand!
© Sonia Brock 2005