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By Erica Colmenares
This past year at MouseFest, I ventured over to the PodFest 2007. The meet was held in the green, shady area behind the Backlot Express restaurant, in the theme park formerly known as MGM-Studios. I’m a relative newbie to the podcasting world, and I figured this would be a fun way to see some of the faces behind the voices on my favorite podcasts.
The podcasters briefly introduced themselves. Here, Mark Goldhaber of MouseStation expounds.
Since 2004, the world of podcasting has been growing in leaps and bounds. You can find podcasts on virtually any topic in the known universe, which includes, of course, all things Disney. Disney podcasts cover all the theme parks, trivia, news, Disney Cruise Line, Disney history, and more. They come in a variety of formats, from a single voice delivering information, to interviews, to ensemble casts and background music. With a little research, you’ll find a podcast (or two) that fit your taste and interests.
Podcasting for Beginners
If you’re a technophobe, don’t necessarily stop reading. I was not keen to enter the podcasting world, half because I worried it would be hard, and half because it seemed just another slippery slope to spending all my waking hours on Disney. Never you fear – listening to podcasts is a snap! The slippery slope thing – well, podcasts are definitely a time black hole, if you try to keep up with too many. Which I would never do. Nope, not me!
If it makes it any easier for you, think of podcasts as radio shows. Maybe you listen to A Prairie Home Companion? Or Car Talk? You like them, but can’t always be near a radio to listen when they are on? Well, with podcasts, you determine where and when you listen to your favorite shows.
There is some basic equipment you’ll need. A computer with an internet connection is the bare minimum. With internet access, you can visit a podcast’s web page, click on its podcast link, and listen to the podcast. If you want to save podcasts to your computer, you’ll need podcasting software or podcatcher (free from iTunes, Juice, Doppler, and others). You do not need an iPod or other MP3 player, unless you want portability.
After you download a podcatcher to your computer, you’ll need to let it know what podcasts you want to “subscribe” to. A subscription is just your way of telling the software what you like to listen to. The podcatcher will then download new podcast episodes to your computer, as they are released. I use iTunes, and all it takes to subscribe to a given podcast is to find the podcast in their library, then click the “subscribe” button. From then on, each time I open iTunes, the software automatically checks for new episodes, and downloads them to my account. More good basic information on podcasts can be found at noipodrequired.com.
Finding Disney-specific Podcasts
Podcatchers have a search option, so one easy way to find Disney podcasts is just to type “Disney” into the search window, and see what you get. Another nifty way to see your Disney podcast options is to visit the Disney Podcast Directoryhttp://www.disneypodcastdirectory.net/. Mike Hamilton has links to 118 Disney podcasts, listing when the podcasts began. Hamilton’s lists are sorted into three categories: independent podcasts, Walt Disney World Company podcasts, and extinct podcasts. Rumor has it that Mike actually listens to all the podcasts listed in his directory. Talk about a slippery slope!
My Favorite Podcasts
I am a WDW news junky, so my podcast tastes lean towards programs that include weekly updates on the World. Here are my top three.
Len Testa: Talk nerdy to me.
WDW Today’s catch phrase is “Give us five minutes, we’ll give you the World.” Add about fifteen minutes to those five, and you’ll get a more accurate sense of how long these podcasts are. Episodes are uploaded Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The regular hosts are Matt Hochberg of Studio Central.com, Mike Newell of Mouse World Radio, Mike Scopa of Allears.net, and Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to WDW. The hosts pick a different topic for each episode. Recent topics covered include dining changes for Annual Passholders, adolescents alone at WDW, and the on-property vs. off-property debate. Mike, Matt, Mike, and Len interact like friends around a table, with lots of laughter and not-a-few inside jokes. Mongello!
The DIS Unplugged team also interacts like friends hanging out. This Orlando-based crew, Pete Werner, Bob Varley, Corey Martin, Julie Martin, Kevin Klose and John Magi, meet at Pete Werner’s home each week to record two programs, a discussion show and an e-mail show. The discussion show includes lots of, well, discussion and kibitzing about the week’s news, restaurants, hotels, Disney policies, etc. These folks are Disney fans with attitude – they praise Disney one minute, and pick Disney apart the next. They also pick on Bob Varley more than I find entertaining, but that’s just me. Overall, I enjoy the banter and think these folks have a very plugged-in view of what’s going on at the World.
The WDW Radio Show
Lou Mongello hosted the PodFest meet at MouseFest.
Lou Mongello’s very popular weekly WDW Radio Show has something for everyone. Lou, who authored The Walt Disney World Trivia Book and co-hosted MouseTunes with Nathan Rose prior to this podcast, usually begins his podcasts with news and rumors, then goes on to special segments, including some impressive interviews with Disney experts and legends (this guy has connections!), in-depth looks at overlooked areas of the parks, and historical looks at extinct attractions in his Wayback Machine. Lou has an extensive collection of park audio files, which are interspersed throughout the show. Lou also answers listener e-mail. Makes for a fun listen. And that’s not just my opinion: WDW Radio News was named the best travel podcast in the third annual podcast awards. Lou and former co-host Nathan Rose won the same award the prior year for their MouseTunes podcast.
Oops, Make it Four: Inside the Magic
Ricky Brigante: Casey Kasem, eat your heart out.
An “also ran” for me is Inside the Magic. I am in awe of Ricky Brigante’s voice. He was one of the twelve Disney Dream Job winners back in 2007, and got to work for a day as a butler at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Ricky’s based in Orlando, and often has the most current news about small changes to the Florida parks. Some of his binaural audio from the parks really makes you feel like you’re on property. Ricky has also started a new Orlando-focused magazine, Orlando Attractions, that’s worth a look.
Other Magically Speaking Opinions
Like I said, I’m into Disney World news. Other Disney fans are interested in other aspects of the World of Disney. So I asked a couple Magically Speaking contributors for their podcast opinions.
Linda S. and her husband are podcast junkies. Here’s what she had to say:
Between the two of us, Mike and I have listened to just about all the ones out there for Disney. We actually like the official Disney podcasts the best. However, they only put them out when they have something new to feature at the parks. There are tons of “official” Disney podcasts and even more “unofficial” Disney podcasts. Some, as you’ve heard, are awesome, some we can’t stand after a few episode because of the monotony, some others are mainly there to promote their book, and others are just plain mean, so those below are our favorites. They come out regularly, are full of information, and are nice to listen to.By order of preference, our top three Disney podcasts are: WDW Radio Show,Mouse Station, and Disney Podcast Network.
Teresa shared her son’s opinion on podcast offerings:
My son is an electrician who works on various construction sites, and he likes to download Disney podcasts to listen to while he’s driving back and forth to work. His two favorites, and his comments about them, are below.
Walt Disney Radio Show with Lou Mongello
“I like the rumors about what might be coming up, as well as the trivia and history. This podcast focuses on the parks. I enjoy having the updates and the news – it makes me look forward to my next trip and what new things I’ll see.
Magical Definition Podcast with Nathan Rose
“This one covers all aspects of Disney, not just the parks. The host is a photographer and often gives photo tips, and I’ve found that quite helpful.”
He adds, “Listening to the music and the sounds of the parks makes me feel like I’m close to Disney World even when I’m way up north in Canada.”
Kate, our co-editor, offers this suggestions as well:
It’s not really podcasting, but I always like to listen to various Disneyland-focused “stations” on Live365.com (especially while I’m at work!). It’s not podcasting, because you don’t download the audio. You can select from different “stations” and they stream all day. (Just search for “Disneyland” or “Disney” and there are tons of stations to check out!) My favorite Disneyland station is E-Ticket Radio, for Disneyland attraction and lovely, ambient Disneyland sounds (like the Main Street or Frontierland background songs). I also like Extinct Attractions Radio and, in the fall, The Haunted Mansion (which also features tracks from the HM in Disneyland Paris).
And that, for me, is what it really comes down to. Sure, it’s great to go to a MouseFest meet and see these Disney personalities up close and personal. But the next best thing to being there is being transported from the northern snow to sunny Florida through entertaining Disney podcasts.