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Herald Offers Podcast Online 3.29.2006

By Nick Colin

RIO GRANDE — A podcast is a Web feed of audio or video files placed on the Internet for anyone to download, subscribe to, or play directly from one’s computer, according to Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
There are only a handful of newspapers that use the relatively new podcast technology on their Web sites; mainly big-time daily publications like the San Francisco Chronicle and the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Herald recently jumped on this “wave of the future” and plans to ride it into new markets with the hope of picking up as many web surfers as possible along the way.
Cape May-Lower Township reporter Jack Fichter, who worked in radio in Florida for 17-years, discovered podcasts on The Naples News and Ventura County Star and thought it could be dupli-cated at the Herald.
Fichter went to Publisher Art Hall, pitched the idea, and the project was a go.
“He’s open to any new technology and things like that, so he was really into the idea,” explained Fichter.
Assistant Development Director Dennis Hall, who has a broadcasting back-ground from his time in the Armed Services, jumped on board as producer and co-editor.
The equipment: two studio microphones, Mackie 12-channel mixer, digital Edirol recorder and microphone, a hybrid telephone, round table, and sound proof material, were ordered and received in about three days.
For the next month, Fichter and Circulation and Facility Manager Gene Van Wicklen transformed a small one-time camera room, on the ground floor of the Herald Building, into a studio.
Van Wicklen installed all the foam rubber sound-proofing.
Meanwhile, Fichter and Informational Systems Administrator Robert Kosinski were faced with the daunting task of setting up equipment and learning how to use it.
Once Fichter and Kosinski figured out the studio equipment, they had to establish their audience and what county events and people they would be interested in.
“While many listeners will be located outside the county, perhaps as far away as Canada, we’ll choose our topics to be of interest to both visitors and local residents,” explained Fichter.
There also had to be theme music, which Fichter eventually found through Sound Dogs Services.
For the 12-minute debut broadcast, Atlantic County Community College Dean Richard Perniciaro from the department of Administration, Planning and Research discussed changing economic and demographic faces of the county. Perniciaro was followed up by an interview with Cape May Deputy Mayor Niels Favre, who talked about the city’s recent award for excellent beaches.
Fichter handled the interviews and narration for the inaugural podcasts.
Once the interviews were complete, then came the tedious process of editing and mixing the material, which took about three hours. 
The first podcast aired March 8 and garnered positive feedback from listeners.
Fichter, Kosinksi, and Hall plan to run a new podcast every week and want to involve as many Herald employes as possible in the process.
“We’d like other reporters to go out with the interview equipment and for others to play a part,” explained Fichter.
Since the first podcast, Fichter and Kosinksi said that they’re getting through the process quicker.
Fichter is currently attempting to set up an interview with veteran actor Mickey Rooney, perhaps best known for his role in the films “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”
 “Because of the advent of the Internet, community newspapers have been saying for quite a while that the day was coming when newspapers would no longer be confined to the printed page. Thanks to our energetic and talented team, we have made a first step into a multi-media future,” explained Publisher Art Hall.
The Herald intends on riding the “wave of the future” into other mediums like vodcasts, which are online video feeds, and wherever else new technology can be applied. The podcast is available on the Herald’s Web site:  CapeMayCountyHerald.com
Contact Colin at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 35 or ncolin@cmcherald.com 

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