An Open Letter to BlogTalkRadio

Hey BlogTalkRadio-

Thank you for your time in stopping by. I know you guys are going through some changes, and that mostly they are good changes. I want to thank you for hiring Kris Smith. He will be a great addition to your team. I know Kris very well. He sorta likes to name drop me. We’ve done a few podcasts together as well. Great guy.

But, BlogTalkRadio, you’ve got your problems. I’m sure you know this, but in case you didn’t, let me break them down.

Multiple Hosts

As you know, because you want to feature our show on the network, we use your service. When I say “we”, I mean “I” because your system only allows for one host. Geoff Livingston is also a host, but you don’t recognize him as a host so he has to call in on a caller line and use up our precious open phone banks. Why, BlogTalkRadio, do you not have the basic concept of multiple hosts built in? I mean, we’re not all in the same room. It’s the internetz.

Your User Interface is teh suck

When I say teh suck, I really do mean it. We’ve done six shows now and I can never find my way around. It’s particularly aggravating to try to download the MP3 so we can have our own professional look for the show on our own professional looking website. This is a core requirement of marketing. I wouldn’t dare send archive listeners to our show page at BTR because, well, because it’s teh suck.

Call Management

Why, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, do you not provide a host a way to perform basic show management functions from a regular phone? Take for instance this past week when my internet connection dropped due to ice, 3 minutes before the show went live. With my cohost in Barcelona and unable to get a reliable internet connection himself, it caused a loss of listeners, a loss of motivation and a loss of our standard 4pm time slot (we had to reschedule for 4:30 so I could drive to a Panera Bread and do the show while everyone looked oddly at me). I found out after the fact that Geoff had dialed in and could hear me cursing in the background, but I had no way of knowing he was on the line (again he was a caller, not a host) nor anyway to unmute his line if I had known he was there.

Call Screening

Although we are geared toward a DC-metro audience, it is not unusual to have callers from around the country and around the world. It’s the tubez. People have Skype and what not. I have a real problem using your switchboard and knowing who is on the line. I know that technically, it would be a challenge, but “real” radio has a way of doing “real” call screening so we know who is on the line and what the heck they want to comment on. Imagine this, a scenario from a few weeks ago: We talk politics for 10 minutes then jump into a different topic – maybe the Yahoo-Microsoft (non) merger. A caller calls in wanting to comment on politics but by this time, we have moved on from the topic. We can take the call and adjust back, possibly interrupting a flow, or ignore the caller and run the risk of pissing them off. You gotta give me a way to handle this more effectively.

Finally, BlogTalkRadio, while I appreciate your efforts, we need real tools. Seriously, it’s only a matter of time before an upstart competitor with more vision, more ability and more marketing prowess comes along and does what you are doing only better. Right now, you have no real competition in this space and so you have the luxury of dicking around doing whatever you do. But when another competitor comes along and gives you a run for your money, they are going to treat hosts as professional radio hosts (yeah, I know we aren’t but we like to pretend). The more professional tools you can give us, the more you ensure that the DoC show won’t jump over to the other guy. I’d like optional video streaming to conjunct with audio streaming. I’d like an improved switchboard with real call screening. I’d like a possible dual channel audio mixer with the possibility of multiple hosts, so maybe one host can do the production for us. Personally, I don’t want to mess with that stuff. I’m competent but I have a show to host.

Please, throw me a bone.

Love always,
Aaron

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

9 thoughts on “An Open Letter to BlogTalkRadio

  1. Aaron, you really hit the nail on the head with your list. I was quite forgiving until I did a show from my hotel room in Las Vegas and got stuck with an $80.00 phone tab. Without piling on, here are a few more for BTR’s consideration:

    1) Audio level adjustment…a basic requirement for anyone that’s spent time in a studio and impossible to do it on BTR today. Different phones seem to have different levels and I’d like to adjust that. Let’s throw in some EQ while we’re at it. Oh, and the volume adjustment for uploaded files is lameo.
    2) Lack of international dial in numbers. The show I paid $80.00 for was an interview with an entrepreneur in Israel. I’d hate to see her phone bill.
    3) No “click to talk” VOIP connection. Isn’t this the future? Why don’t we have it today?
    4) Audio ads (ugh!). They are worse than the British voice of BTR.
    5) As far as the interface is concerned…that’s what happens when you’ve got telecom folks making UI decisions. Teh suck indeed!
    6) The one thing telecom folks should do is understand the need to use a phone for all controls. Where’s the iPhone switchboard? I should be able to do everything from my phone and dump the laptop.
    7) Sorting content is an ugly affair at the moment. Who needs umpteen categories? Give me channels and a better way to search for what I need.
    8) Finally, why can’t I tag my audio stream at certain timecodes to help others find relevant content? Better yet…let’s have transcription and searchable audio streams. That would go a long way in making this kind of content more snacky.

    There’s more of course. But I’ve got to get back to my day job. In the meantime I hope Alan listens and acts on our collective free advice.

  2. Hey Aaron, Is that my name in the first paragraph? It is! Thanks for the kind words.

    Your input as a BlogTalkRadio host is important. The post above and the conversation that we had a few days ago are great examples of how users can help us in creating a better service.

    Earlier this week I brought your feedback to the attention of our team and we discussed offerings in the works and the types of services that we will be releasing in the next few months. Most of what you requested is already being put into place. Some of the requests – control from phone and getting producers in each show need fleshing out. If you’ve got some more thought on how either of these would look from a host point of view ping me.

    If anyone else would like to talk about the BlogTalkRadio user experience, host interface or product offerings, feel free to get in touch with me.

    Cheers,

    Kris
    630.445.1719
    krissmith[at]blogtalkradio.com

  3. I had high hopes for BTR, and it’s nice to know that Kris came on and commented to let us know they care. I’ll be looking out for those improvements.

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