Podcasting: Dog Works Radio Secrets Pt. 1

In this three part series I will discuss some of the secrets (and costs) of producing the Dog Works Radio and Mush! You Huskies radio shows.

A lot of my friends, fans and rabid readers have been asking me about my Internet radio shows and all that is involved in producing them. I will do my best to answer some of the frequently asked questions here. If you have others please comment on this post or send an email to live@dogworksradio.com

The Dog Works Radio show started in January 2009 when I was still living in Denver, Colorado and at that time is was named, The Dog Doctor Radio Show, as I was the primary host.

In February 2010 we parted ways with our producer and ventured out on our own and branded the new show as Dog Works Radio. Why Dog Works Radio, you may ask? Dog Works Training Centers is our parent company owning a couple dog training centers. In our dog training centers we specialize in canine sports and working dogs–hence the name. The show is now hosted weekly by my wife, Michele and I.

In March 2010 we launched Mush! You Huskies by covering the 2010 Iditarod every night. Mush! is the sister show to Dog Works Radio and is on the same channel/web page.

On the Dog Works Radio show we often discuss dog related topics in the news. We have covered service dog procedures extensively as well as the Michael Vick controversy, canine cancer, raw diets and more. We often have pet authors on the show for interviews to discuss their books and other projects. We are always looking for guests.

On Mush! You Huskies we cover the Iditarod daily during the month of March as well as my training and racing stories (as the begin to develop). In the off season we discuss dog sledding history as well as the pioneers that made the sport of mushing what it is.

What makes a show a good show?

Don’t kid yourself thinking your are going to have a million downloads of your first show. It takes time and a lot of effort to build up a following and to have a show that people want to listen to.

Remember that a podcast takes an effort on the part of your listeners. Meaning that it is not like driving in your car and turning on the radio and there you go.

In order for your listenership to hear your show they either have to be sitting at their computer or download it to their mobile device ahead of time and listen to your show at the gym, working out, riding their bike, whatever…

Your content or message must fill the need of some niche. There are 1000s of podcasts about technology, sports, fantasy football, dieting, life coaching, etc. But what will make yours stand out.

First, you must know your stuff. Don’t claim to be an expert in something that you are a novice at.

When we first started our show we decided that we weren’t going to talk about how to train your dog. Anybody can do that. We doubted that anyone would listen to our show about teaching your dog to sit.

But we found out that by covering topics that few people talk about in the world of dog training and canine sports that we soon had a loyal following.

The Numbers

A good podcast will have a 1000 downloads per episode. A great podcast will have 10,000. An over the top show will have a million. This last stat is privy to a very small amount of shows. Shows like The Dan Patrick Show (ESPN) or other big name media-types.

Our two shows have performed consistently in the “good” category for well over a year now.

Do not overlook this and don’t be discouraged when you host your first shows and only 10 or 20 people listen to it. Remember it takes time…

Podcast vs. Radio Show

From the very beginning we wanted to do the most professional radio show that we could. We figured anybody could do a podcast from their mom’s basement in their underwear using their computer’s built in microphone and a pair of iPod ear-buds.

No way were we going that route. We went out and bought professional equipment and set up our studio to make it as much of a real production as possible. There are many ways to short cut the costs and time that you expend on your show, it will be apparent. I have listed the approximately monthly (and upfront costs) throughout the article.

The Hosts

Our two shows are hosted by the husband and wife team of Robert and Michele Forto. Yep, that’s right a tag-team duo. We learned early on that we needed a point/counter-point approach to our show. It is very boring to listen to one guy gab on for an hour about a single topic.

By adding Michele to our broadcasts it opened up a brand new and refreshing air to the shows. While I am often analytical and to the point, Michele is conversational and asks great questions to our guest.

We are currently hosting the two shows 2300 miles apart and while that does pose some technical difficulties from time to time, the wonders of Skype and the Internet have allowed us to do so with relative ease.

The Platform

We use BlogTalk Radio as our platform and are very pleased with it. We are set up as premium hosts ($39.00 a month or $399.00 a year) and this allows us several features that the free option does not include.

There are some big differences between the FREE and PREMIUM versions

On the free version you can only host a show for 30 minutes a day and have only 5 live concurrent callers. While BlogTalk Radio does great at network promotion of your show, with the free version it offers this only at the basic level.

The Premium host features an enhanced switchboard, you can edit, upload and replace episodes, you can host with Skype and have prime time scheduling.

Note: I don’t know how many times my show was bumped when we were hosting it for free.

With the Premium account you will receive enhanced reporting, you can host up to 2 hours a day and have 50 live concurrent callers.

But the most important feature is that your show will have 5,000 impressions a month on the BlogTalk Radio site.

BlogTalk Radio is optimized for easy search engine recognition and ranking. When setting up a show it allows you to use keywords and other tools so that people can “find”  your show.

The BlogTalk Radio platform seamlessly integrates all of the aspects of social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) making it a perfect marriage to host your show.

The website is user friendly and very easy to set up and maintain.

While there are 100s of shows on the BlogTalk Radio network, it takes quite a bit of work to make your show “stand out”. you just figure to spend at least an hour a week updating the comment, sending messages to your friends and fans and scheduling new shows.

We also have added the toll-free call-in option for our guest. Since this is a show that you can literally host from anywhere in the world, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our guests to reach us. BlogTalk Radio will give you a toll-free number and a block of 500 minutes for $25.00. when you run out of minutes you can add more, similar to a pre-paid cell phone account. You can also turn off this feature at any time.

The Switchboard

The switchboard in Blogtalk Radio is very similar to what you would see in a professional radio studio.

It has a caller queue which allows you to screen calls as well as manage the calls coming into the show.

It has a chat room feature so that you can chat with the live listeners. I don’t typically use the chat room feature as most of our shows are downloaded and listened to after the show airs. I typically use my twitter account for this.

The switchboard also has a section for all of your audio files. This is where your commercial spots, intros, sound bytes, etc. are located and you can add them to your show at the click of a mouse.

Tomorrow: Dog Works Radio Secrets Part 2


Robert Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Works Radio | Denver Dog Works | Daily Post


Robert Forto is a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and Dog Works Radio Shows