It was 2007 when I first stumbled upon Blog Talk Radio. I was a book reviewer and a book marketing company invited me to take part in a round table discussion about book reviewing. Sure, this was a niche subject with zero sex appeal to anyone other than fellow book reviewers (a rare and slightly odd crowd).

I enjoyed my adventure and in 2008 decided that Blog Talk Radio could be a very useful tool, I could use it to interview authors, musicians, and other assorted miscreants.

My many years of meetings, presentations, and other corporate bull shit meant that I had no fear whatsoever of being on the radio. Sure, the first couple of programs were a little rough around the edges, what works in face to face discussions does not always translate well to radio. A 10 second pause to let an idea sink in is great in real life, but it is a death knell on the radio, we call it ‘dead air’.

Blog Talk Radio at that time was the ‘Wild West’, all it took was a computer, a phone and a whole lot of guts. Best of all it was free! Sure you could pay if you wanted to, and the pay accounts seemed to offer more features, but the reality was that the free user had the same access as the paid user.

A year later, things started to change, the rules were starting to be enforced, as Blog Talk Radio had now become an important tool in my tool box, I had little choice but pay the $29 per month.

For a couple of years, life was great, I had joined the Revenue Sharing program and that more than covered my $29 per month. But that waned, as Blog Talk Radio shifted their focus to more well known hosts. I called it the ‘Tavis Smiley Effect’. For two months it seemed that Blog Talk Radio was a wholly owned subsidiary of Tavis.

It was around this time that I became more involved in the company as a contractor. My mission, show new hosts how to use the BTR platform. It did not take long to determine that new users had few problems with using the platform, the button pressing was easy, 10 mins and you knew what buttons to press. The big problem was in the ‘soft skills’, managing your guest, knowing the subject that you plan on talking about.

During this time I met a number of great folks that worked for BTR. They were a treat to work with, cranky, opinionated, and above all very smart.

The training program came to an end, BTR decided to bring it in-house. I was disappointed, but not surprised. The program was at best a crap shoot. Some trainers were better than others. One nut job included custom jingles and adverts into his custom one-on-one training sessions. But that is a story unto itself.

What bothers me about Blog Talk Radio is two fold. Service and support are dropping, yet prices rise.

I do two or three interviews a month with musicians. These are harmless programs lasting 30-45 minutes. Depending on my interest level I will play 2 or 3 tracks on air. I have hundreds of music tracks uploaded. Being a lazy bastard I get my wife to upload the music to my account, the naming convention is [artist] – [cd name] – [track title].

It is fair to say Jan is not over the moon with this task, even worse, she only likes Country (what ever happened to the ‘and Western), this is a genre of music that you would need to ‘water board’ me to listen to.

Yesterday I asked her to upload 2 tracks for an interview later in the afternoon. “Access Denied”, she gleefully told me. I took over the mission and got the same unhelpful error message. I checked the files, MP3 format…Yes, Under 100 meg… Yes.

I contacted ‘Tech Support’, as luck would have it, it was one of the very few remaining people I know that still works there. Within minutes the problem was solved. Apparently Blog Talk Radio made some ‘Improvements’ last month. You now have to convert Stereo audio files to Mono. Wow, what a leap forward! Clearly Mono is the future.

I am hoping that Blog Talk Radio might also spur on a resurgence of the 8 Track, Cassettes, and the Sony Walkman. Hell Kodak have brought back the Super 8, so why not?

Simon Barrett

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