(Note – this article is a pseudo-excerpt from the book The Spartan RV. Learn more about living life more fully, without STUFF in that book)
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with podcasts, but if you knew how to use them, you could always hear what you wanted to hear on your radio.
I talk about how to do it on my latest video:
Here is the transcript for the video for the “readers” in the group:
Hello, RV52 peeps. Hey, a lot of you are on the road, and I wanted to tell you how to create your own personal radio station for RVers. And, of course, I’m Marlon Winter.
I’m the founder and chief bottle washer for RV52.com, a huge, multi-national, multi-continent conglomerate. Because, well, you can punch my website in from any part of the world.
What are you going to learn in the next few minutes? Well, a little bit about what’s unique about y’all, and radio stations, and the pros and cons of different technology, a little bit about podcasts, which is kind of the foundation of this, how to create your own personal radio station, and all those types of things.
So let’s talk a little bit about RVers. Y’all are, well, mobile. In fact, very mobile. You range far and wide, from Alaska to Florida, or from Vancouver to Ottawa, and all across Canada, the South, the North, everywhere. And you might travel at very odd times, and every time you try to use your radio, and you go any distance at all, it’s a brand new set of channels, different schedules, all that baloney. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly never hear what I want to hear on the radio.
So if I think about FM radio, some pros: they’re easy. They’re very easy. Every radio in your car has access to it. It’s everywhere. Some of the cons: you’re limited to, I don’t know, 50, 100, 150 miles. You will have to show up for their schedules. So they basically have one set of programming, they put it out over the channel, if you want to listen to something, you’ve got to bend to their programs. And I don’t know about you, but I’m never in my car or wherever at the right time for these guys. You may not even find a station you like in your geography. And you know what? It’s really hard to review or re-listen to things you liked. Ads, ads, ads, ads, and more ads. Yuck.
Then you have satellite. Pros is, well, it’s everywhere you are. That’s kind of cool. There’s quite a bit of variety of stations in satellite. Cons: you pay money, and you still get ads. You still have to bend to their schedule, mostly. You can’t review and replay shows you liked. And you need special equipment, like XM, Sirius, and all that. And you still might not find the shows you like. So, you know, there are some pros and cons on satellite.
What if you could make your own radio station? Some pros: available when you want it. Absolutely no geographic range or limits. Limited ads to no ads. You can replay whatever you like. Listen to your programs, not anyone else’s. And it’s on-demand. It’s kind of like the perfect DVR. Some of the cons — and this is kind of what we’re going to talk about here — is, well, you’re the program director, and that means you’ve got to put together the program, and it does require some effort. But I will say, from personal experience, I have way more programming than I’ll ever be able to listen to, and that’s kind of cool.
Let’s talk a little bit about creating your own radio station.
Before we do it, you’re going to have to have a few basics.
One of the first basics is you’ve got to know a little bit about audio. I mean, this is the actual sound that my voice has right now as I’m speaking. It’s audio media for you, songs, speeches, talks, and all of that. What is it? All right.
So let’s start with the basics. On the left-hand side I’ve got the song, or spoken word, or whatever. On the right-hand side, I’ve got an ear. And so the radio station’s going to take this song or spoken word, and they’re going to try to get it to you. So part of what they do — and they may not actually do it, they may just utilize it — but they have a process that converts sound into radio waves, okay? And they send it over radio waves to, well, a radio that’s in your car, or RV, or boat, or whatever. And in your radio, you have a process to convert radio waves back to sound. Those two orange circles are separated by distance. That’s pretty much it. And I hope that you feel this is a reasonable way of thinking about this.
Now, it’s a little bit different with these computers now.
So you’ve kind of got this idea of a radio station, but it’s not really a radio station. It’s a place on the world wide web. And instead of converting it to radio waves that get transmitted, we convert the sound into a computer file. Most of you are familiar with Excel or Word or PDF. Those are computer files. You can attach them to email. You can send them around. But they’re a file. And that’s what you convert the sound into a file. You can transmit it.
And this way, probably not transmitting it over the air, and I’ll explain that in a little bit.
But that gets transmitted and received by a computer or an iPod. And inside the computer and iPod, it has a process to convert that file to a sound. And you convert and transfer these things over the Internet.
Now, let’s go a little bit further and talk a little bit about these personal media players. So I got this computer or iPod, which contains the process to convert a file to a sound. And it turns out there’s a lot of different processes. There’s two major processes, MP3 and AAC. AAC is Apple, and MP3 is, well, pretty much everybody else.
And most podcasts, which are basically what I’m doing now, talking to you about a subject, and those podcasts are sound converted into an MP3 file, mostly. And then you can have these processes running on a computer, an iPod, a car radio, an iPhone. These are all media devices on the right-hand side. So anything that can decode an MP3 can play these files. And mostly we won’t have to worry too much about car radios. I’m going to show you in a little bit. And when I say “car radio,” most RVs have the same darned stuff in them, as well.
So what is a podcast? In real simple terms, it’s a series of talks. Like, maybe somebody is a political speaker. They’re conservative. They’re a big, heavyset guy out in . . . I think he’s in Florida, and he has a conservative talk show. It’s on the radio. But he can just as well capture his show that he put out over the radio, he can capture that show into a file, and then each show becomes a whole series, and you can store them as MP3 files, and you can make them available for download on the Internet.
And that makes it so that people can see that files, and then they can go grab them, download them, and put them on a device, like an iPod. Ergo, “podcast.” That’s why it’s usually an iPod, and how it got its name.
And why the name “podcast”? Well, a podcast is kind of like “broadcast”, except you don’t need a $500,000 radio station. You don’t need any of that, because the Internet took care of all that. All you need to be able to do is have a website. Those are, you know, $20, $30 a month, tops. You can put podcasts available on that.
So you don’t need much money to broadcast. And it is like broadcasting, except you don’t have radio towers. And instead of broadcasting, you’re sending something to an iPod. You’re not sending it to a radio. And you’re not really sending it. You’re making it available. People come and grab the podcast willingly. And then you smush all this stuff together. Broadcast and sending it to an iPod. You smash that name together and you get “podcast.” All right.
Now, if everybody made these podcasts, and they were all over heck, it wouldn’t be very useful. One of the neat things iTunes did is they made podcasts kind of an industry thing. So if you come into iTunes, it’s a great front end, or store front, for Apple, of course. And inside there, you can get music, movies, and all that, but you can also get podcasts. And they don’t actually store the podcasts at Apple. All it really is is a directory. And so you click on the red arrow on iTunes store.
Most of your iTunes interfaces are going to look like this. And then the blue arrow, you click across the top on podcasts, and you’d see all these choices. And here you can see some new and noteworthy. So I look at things that are getting added and are popular. They keep track of who’s downloading. If things start trending, they pop them to the top as noteworthy. And that’s kind of how they work. So once you find these podcasts, you can organize that content any way you want. So once you do that, and find the podcast you like, you can play it back your way.
And so in my case, I made a podcast playlist — and you’d have to research playlists a little bit in iTunes — but with the playlist, you can say, “I want to use podcasts that have been created after this date, or before this date, or match these terms.” There’s all sorts of ways you can make these playlists. But in my case, I went and grabbed all my podcasts and put them in chronological order. And you can see the kinds of things I listen to. And the very first one on the list, you’ll see, is 50 minutes and 27 seconds. That’s somebody named Amy Porterfield. She talks about online marketing. And so there’s 50 minutes of advertising-free content. And it’s content I want to hear.
My wife thinks it’s totally boring, but hey, that’s for her. This is for me. I love it, and I get the radio station I want, and it gives me a reason to do things when I’m away. And while I’m going on road trips, it just passes the time so fast. I’ve actually gotten where I like traffic.
I call it my four-wheel university.
Apple also has the idea of radio stations, in which case you click on “my station”. And you could have, like, 50 different podcasts. In my case, you’ve got Dan Miller, you’ve got the Smart Passive Income. But you might have 50 of those, and you might pick 12 for one radio station and 15 for another, because they’re topically oriented. You might have your health radio station and all that. And then what’ll happen is when you’re in your car or you’re listening on your headphones — I got my aircraft-style stuff — you can actually pick out the radio station you want to listen to at that moment in time.
And of course you can also, with your iPod, listen to music and all that. But I’m trying to tell you about something different. And a lot of people just don’t think of the spoken word and radio stations as something you might listen to and create your own radio station.
So I’m trying to show you how to break free of the FM radio station. Now, how do you get the music and audio from your personal player into your car, or really, anything else, for that matter.
Okay? Well, what I’m showing here is a 3.5 mm jack, audio jack. And it can go into almost any car radio. See the green arrow there? It’s pointing to where that is. And a lot of times, they’re on there, and they don’t really label them. They’re a little tricky to see. But look around. Most radio stations and automobiles and RVs, the manufacturers, say, in the last six, seven, eight years now have those. And, of course, your iPhone or iPod would have a jack like that. So you just hook them together with a 3.5 mm cable. It’s got a 3.5 mm jack on each side. It’s got audio cable connecting them in between. It looks just like that. It’s very convenient. It’s very simple. And if you have that cable, I keep my cable with me, and I can plug into just about everything, so I can hear my show anywhere I want to go.
Bluetooth. Ugh, it’s really just beyond the scope of this. I’ll tell you what. Bluetooth, in general, is like this. You put your car radio, and we’re going to talk about your car radio or RV radio, in pairing mode to make it discoverable, if it has Bluetooth in it. You go to your iThingy device and tell it to scan for new devices. You click on the car radio, you click the connect button. If you’re lucky, it gives you a number. It says, “Please enter a number.” You enter the number. And if you can, you find an option that basically says, anytime your Bluetooth devices are gathered, just hook them together. Almost like a cable. And that’s really Bluetooth overall.
So let’s put it all together.
- Select the things you want to listen to in iTunes.
- Make a radio station or a playlist.
- Connect to your iPod using the cable, like I said. I think that’s far easier. I mean, you can use BlueTooth and all that, but the cable’s easiest.
- Select the appropriate options on your iPod screen in iTunes. I’ll show you that in a little bit.
- Hit the “Sync” button. Oh, I told you wrong.
- It’s connect your iPod to your computer.
- And then you’re going to select some options on your iPod screen in iTunes, hit the Sync button.
- Everything’s now on your iPod.
- Now you can connect your iPod, your car, RV radio using 3.5 mm jack and cable.
- Set your radio input to “Aux.” Usually they don’t spell it out. It’s auxiliary. But in this case, usually it’s “Aux”. It’s usually a button or a menu. It’s easy to find.
- And then find your podcast app on your iPod or iPhone, navigate to your playlist. It’ll say “Play”. Bang. Done.
She’ll start playing.
And the beauty is, when one podcast is done, it’s going to move to the next.
That was why I had to build a playlist, is because it’s actually dangerous to be driving, and particularly if your podcasts are short, you’re always fiddling with your device. Very unsafe. So once I turn it on and go, bang-o, it just continues to go. And finally, you’ve got to mess with the volume.
So let’s talk a little bit about options. So when I hook up to sync on my phone, it shows up where the green arrow is. I click on “Podcasts”. I click on a little button that says “Sync Podcasts.”
And on the bottom there — I’ve got it all on one screen — I say pick the playlist that brings it all together. That’s how I sync. Simple as pie. And now let’s just talk a little bit, the kind of things you might find.
Because there’s probably stuff you’d like on iTunes. So in the upper left- hand, they have a new and noteworthy section. And this is new stuff.
Again, Apple monitors the downloads and the success, and things that are running. They’re going to poke up here. And then on the lower left, they’ve got… these are top podcasts. These aren’t just new ones. These are ones that are continually good over life. So “This American Life.” You see NPR, “Planet Money.” There’s a lot of very left stuff here, on here.
On the lower right-hand side, they actually keep track of the most popular podcasts, as well, and you can see things that have been very, very, very popular over time. And of course in the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see the different kind of categories you can find. And there are literally thousands and thousands and thousands of these up on iTunes. It would take you a long time to find everything.
And then, in case you’re wondering if the whole world is liberal, it’s not. And just for fun, I just typed in Laura Schleissinger. So she has podcasts.
And this is how you do search. They’ve got a search box. It looks like that. Type in whatever you want to type. And then you can see Dr. Laura’s podcast. And then, of course, something you might not have thought of is you can get audiobooks, and you can get those put on your iPod.
They’re very economical, and you listen to those, as well. And a good book can take you for a good 14-hour trip.
So, at the end of this, let’s hope you can say goodbye to Howard Stern and say hello to “radio you.”
Anyway, thanks a lot. This is RV52, Marlon Winter, coming at you, and I hope you find this helpful. Bye.