Webcast Academy FAQ

This is the old version of the FAQ and is somewhat outdated.

We are working on building the new FAQ here 

Frequently Asked Questions About Webcasting
These questions will help interns who have mastered using the basic webcasting tools including: Skype, VAC audio repeater, a recording program like Audacity and a streaming program like Simplecast or SAMS. If you are a complete beginner please refer to the system requirements and download the necessary open source programs.
The answers to these questions came out of a streamed conversation between Doug, Jeff and Kathy on January 7, 2007. You may want to listen to the recording for a deeper understanding of the issues involved in webcasting.
What is the most important thing to consider when planning a webcast?
  • First you will need to ask yourself several questions:
  1. Is this going to be a one-off show or a series?
  2. If you are planning a series you will need to establish a regular day/time, have you checked the schedule for regular openings?
  3. Is my cast best suited for World Bridges, Education Bridges or WebHeads?
    (stay tuned for WB show guidelines, get a sense for 'Worldbridgeyness' here: http://www.worldbridges.net/About_Worldbridges
  4. Have I identified my audience and defined my purpose?
  5. Will I be doing my cast alone or with a team?
  6. Who is on my team? In other words who are the people you will be working with to produce the show?
  7. Do you have relationships with other interns? Use them! Help each other.
  8. What roles will each team member play? You can be a one-man band, or…divide the responsibilities among your members. You will have greater success in sustaining your show if you share the roles. A person who directs one week may produce the next week. Flexibility and the ability to fill in as needed is critical.

What are some ways to divide the responsibility for webcasting among team members?
  1. Producer – plan topic, guests, line up hosts, schedule and assign roles
  2. Streamer – set up the stream, test and manage the stream 30 minutes prior to the show.
  3. DJ – this individual will record the show, edit if necessary and post. They will ensure quality audio and remind the Director or another team member to record a backup copy.
  4. Chat Concierge – This person will be part of the conversation but in charge of welcoming people as they join the chat room. They will instruct new participants who can’t seem to get the stream. They will also bring up the questions posted in the chat room as they represent the silent participant.
  5. Scribe – You may want to line up web resources prior to the show and be ready to locate and post more as needed. The scribe will find and post the links people need in the chat room. This person typically is very resourceful, a fast searcher and has a well stocked Delicious list on hand.
  6. Hosts – The Producer, Director, DJ, Chat Concierge and Scribe will all be part of the conference. As a team you can decide who will be the primary speaker, announcing the opening and closing etc…
  7. Guests – those who will be part of the audio conference. The Producer should brief the guests prior to the show so they can test Skype and add contacts.
  8. Active Participants – people in the chat room who post comments and questions.
  9. Listeners – stream only people.
  10. Downloaders – the individuals who download the podcast
  11. Peers – fellow webcasters who will be happy to give you feedback or answer questions. Keep an emergency Skype ID in your contact list.

Which channel should I use to stream my webcast?
   Interns should generally use Sandbox A & B, and are welcome to continue using the Sandboxes as ' Academy webcasters' after their session is finished.  Graduates are also welcome to apply for membership as a 'webcast producer' at any of Worldbridges other channels.  Stay tuned for more details about that process.

When I determine the dates, how do I book the time?
Book your show by adding an event to the calendar at Webcastacademy.net
To do so, click 'create content/event'. The default time zone is GMT, so if you are posting times in any other time zone, please make sure to select the appropriate time zone. Please also include a global times. You can do so by clicking the link below and choosing to 'modify calculation'

How do I let people know about the show or shows if it's going to be a series? 
  • Post it on your personal blog.
  • Post it on friends blogs.
  • Post it on your website.
  • Ask your guest(s) and team members to do as above.

Why are there two streams?
  All Worldbridges Channels have an 'A' and 'B' so that when possible we can provide higher quality audio (usually 64kbs) to those with relatively fast connections and more accessible audio (24kbs) for those with slower connections. 

Where does the stream come from?
The audio is streamed using a program called Shoutcast that is installed on each of Worldbridges servers.  There are currently 3 servers that are funded primarily with advertising revenues from Korea-based sites, although figuring out a more sustainable funding model for various Worldbridges communities is a major topic discussed during Worldbridges Town Halls. 

Can I host my own stream?
If your computer is set up as a server and you have enough bandwidth you too can install Shoutcast (or another streaming program) and offer your own channels! The channels are just different ports you set up. It would be great if more people took this next step and set up streams from their own computer/server. As the community grows it will be helpful to have more streaming capable machines that can be used to relay a stream and increase the potential number of listeners. 

Each of the Communities has a link to a Chat Room, are they different chat rooms?
They are all the same chat space, currently a premium version of addonchat.com. Separate rooms are set up so that if more than one show is on aat the same time, listeners to chat in the appropriate room without confusing each other (more than normal ").

What if the WorldBridges Chat is down?
A backup chat linked at the bottom of the chat window just in case. The URL is http://webcastacademy.net/chat2 . If you prefer a different alternative can announce the URL on air. 

What about saving the chat logs?
We are currently working on a way for all chat logs to be automatically posted online. Right now the chat logsare mailed to the Webcast Academy gmail account and saved in archives. There has been some discussion surrounding the content.  Please be sure to inform all participants that voice and data are recorded and may be displayed.
Can a guest ask you to pull a show? Can they ask you to edit it? There isn't an obligation. You are held accountable just as you would be if you ranted and raved in your own public square.

Can I edit the chat log or voice recording? 
  As the show producer you can edit the logs or audio recording as desired. It's  a good idea to remind all participants before the start of the show that the broadcast is live and will be recorded and published.

How do I introduce the show? Is there a standard?
   There's no required procedure, but commonly webcasters include:

Standardized ID
Show name
Channel of the World Bridges Webcasting network,
ID yourself and your location
For example, "Welcome to xyz Show #22 being webcast live January 1, 2007 on the Sandbox Channel of the Worldbridges Network. This is Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, and today..."

What comes after the show intro?
It's always a good idea to listen to a few webcasts before you establish your own style.  Many people like to Introduce themselves, guests and then give a brief overview/outine of the show content.  It will help you to stay on topic and help allow the listeners to anticipate topics of personal interest. 

Where can I find out more about World Bridges in case someone asks how it started etc?
Check WorldBridges town hall and EdTech talk # 40 and About WorldBridges.

What else can be used to identify the show? Is there an audible cue of any kind?
A World Bridges tone would be nice to have.

So once the audio is set how does the conference or Skypecast get set up?
The latest version of Skype allows 10 people in the conference (sometimes-depends alot on your bandwidth). The person who establishes the Skype conference has control and can bring people in, kick people off or ask someone to leave in order to let someone else in.  Skypecasts have been especially unreliable lately, but can be public or hidden and when they work provide space for up to 100 participants.  Participants can be muted by the host to maintain audio quality. More info about skypecasts here

Who should set up the conference call?
  it does not have to be the streamer. As long as a streamer stays on the same call as the host, then discussion audio will be streamed. 

How can I tell if the stream is working?
You can take a look at the listen page http://webcastacademy.net/listen - make sure you are logged in to the site as this page can be unreliable otherwise. You can also access the Shoutcast admin page - more info in this screencast: http://webcastacademy.net/screencasts/streamingpractice/index.html   

What are some of the problems I may encounter using Skype?
Try and get your guests to use skype, microphones and headphones for the best quality. You can also use SKYPE to call to landlines, the sound quality isn't the same, but is usually overcome with the content you are getting from those Web 1.0 people. Sometimes people don't have the bandwidth that skype uses, so the phone is the best bet.

You will have to determine what would best suit the needs of your webcast.  Will you use a Skype conference call or will you set up a skypecast? 
 If you are doing a Skypecast, move to listening only, waiting and on. The people who are on can mute themselves. If you are in a skype conference you can't mute anyone.

How do I decide which to use, Skype Conference or Skypecast? 
A conference call is more stable, easier to monitor and allows up to ten participants in the call.  The audio quality is also superior to the Skypecast.
If audio is bad you can ask them to mute or hang up.The conference call has no delay but the stream has a delay. If you use.30 second stream.
Have guests introduce themselves in the chat room first and then turn on their mic.

Radio shows always do a station ID every so often, should I? 
It's probably a good idea, but not required.  You can also direct people the website, chat room, and  any desktop sharing or other collaboration tools being used. 

How am I supposed to run the show and chat at the same time?

You would be surprised how natural this becomes.  On the other hand it can be very useful to have a team member in charge of meeting and greeting, hence the name Chat Room Concierge (thank you Doug Symington) Acknowledging guests will encourage them to participate and to continue to tune in to the show. There is a lagtime in the chat room. Help make the chatters aware of the 30 second delay.

Is there a live stream recording backup?
The stream does automatically back itself up while running but only if the stream begins by xx:59  and only if the show doesn't break transmission.  You are responsible for recording your own stream and it's a good idea to have another team member recording as backup, just in case you encounter a glitch.  

Is anyone on call in case of emergency?
Make sure you are on the Webcast Academy Skype list and then later the skype group chat for any other community you webcast from.

Is there an official checklist for mac and pc users to use prior to the cast?
Not exactly, but thanks to the Class of 2.2 we're making progress.  Although it might be useful to have a basic list, each webcaster develops their own routine.  If anyone would like to post their routine they are welcome to share.

What is the procedure for posting a show?
   See the /info page for details for you webcasting community (i.e. http://webcastacademy.net/info )

Can I just have a stand up night when it’s just me?
 Sure, as long as it's OK with your home community.  It's fine here at the academy. You can be a DJ and play podsafe music or play clips from other 'open content', or simply ramble as long as you'd like.