Jason Hartman interviews Professor Corey Olsen, President of Mythgard Institute, about how podcasting has allowed him to reach a wider audience than lectures or articles would reach. Prof. Olsen took the podcast route to appeal to his own lecture style involving his voice, and he says it has been a lot of fun being able to reach out to people. Through the podcast experience, Prof. Olsen found there were hundreds of thousands of people out there that are interested in the academic conversation. Jason asks Prof. Olsen about his experiences with software and delivery of the podcast, which is found on iTunes ranked in the Top Ten. For more details, listen at: www.SpeakingofWealth.com. Professor Olsen also began recording class lectures and hosting recorded study groups, as well as producing segments on various works of literature. He said his content has been driven primarily by listener feedback, and as his podcast has grown, he has been able to establish long-term relationships, which has opened the door for an audience excited about taking classes and looking forward to Professor Olsen’s new book. He says it’s all about being genuine about something you love.
In his teaching website, “The Tolkien Professor”, Professor Olsen brings his scholarship on Tolkien to the public, seeking to engage a wide and diverse audience in serious intellectual and literary conversation. His website features a series of detailed lectures on The Hobbit, and recordings of the weekly meetings of the Silmarillion Seminar, which has been working its way through The Silmarillion chapter by chapter, as well as more informal Q&A sessions with listeners. He is currently writing a book titled Exploring The Hobbit, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin in September 2012.
Corey Olsen teaches in the English Department at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, where he began teaching in the Fall of 2004. His undergraduate and graduate teaching subjects include J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthurian literature, Chaucer, and Sir Thomas Malory. He got his BA in English and Astrophysics from Williams College in Massachusetts and his PhD in medieval literature from Columbia University. At Washington College, Professor Olsen has served as the Faculty Coordinator of Academic Integrity, the Faculty Advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and Master of the Revels at Washington College’s hotly contested annual Wheelbarrow Jousting Tournament.
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Jason Hartman: My pleasure to welcome Professor Cory Olsen to the show. He is an English professor who started a podcast about two and a half years ago, has a great story about it, and I think you are going to learn a lot from his experience. I am so thankful to have him with us tonight. Cory, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. How are you?
Cory: I am great. Thanks for having me.
Jason Hartman: Well, my pleasure so you are an English Professor?
Cory: That’s right.
Jason Hartman: And you have a particular specialty it sounds like.
Cory: That’s right. I mean I have sort of a dual specialty in medieval literature and also in fantasy literature especially the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic and you as a professor you were saying before we started taping. You were saying that of course and people know this that professors are under tremendous pressure to publish, and usually they are publishing articles in academic journals that few people read, and or they are publishing textbooks which have a fairly small market as well. Now, have you participated in that world of publishing or was podcasting really the route you wanted to take?
Cory: Well, I basically started off doing that. You know I mean that’s what we are trained to do in graduate school, and I did some of that. I published a couple of articles and you know was sort of working on some things, but really the thing, the thing that kind of got to me is that I became sort of dissatisfied as I was planning out these articles and writing these things basically thinking about who my audience is which is very, very few people, but basically the way that academic publishing has become largely through economic pressures, academic journals and academic books are generally just simply priced out of the range of normal consumers even people who would be interested in reading them so that basically I was finding that the academic conversation was often just a kind of a closed conversation among the small group of scholars, and you know there is definitely a value in that, and I definitely enjoy talking to other scholars, but for myself that’s never what I was most excited about, and what I was really excited about was actually trying to reach a wider audience and reach more people, and for me I decided instead of taking that time to work on the few more articles, or may be work on a scholarly monograph I decided to instead to go the media route, and be a podcaster, so I chose podcasting really not because I knew anything about the genre.
I really didn’t, but basically I was a teacher and you know what I am most comfortable with is teaching in the class, so I wanted to do something where I could be using my own voice, and I could be kind of appealing to my own lecture style. I thought that that would be, you know I thought about starting a blog, but I really kind of wanted to involve my voice, and do more what I normally do in teaching so that’s why I went the podcast route, and it has been a lot of fun, and being able to reach out to people there is a very dynamic audience out there of people who not only just our fans of Tolkien, you know not just people who are kind of Peter Jackson fans, and Orlando Bloom fans and that kind of thing, but people who are really interested in engaging in these works in ways that just delight any English professor. I mean there is such a hunger out there for a real academic conversation that involves a wider audience of people.
There are many, so many tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people out there I find who really want to take part in this kind of conversation and have been thirsty for it, and its — it was remarkable and I just, I had no idea what I was doing. I started posting things. I figured out how to do an RSS feed, posted it to iTunes, and it just kind of took off. Yeah so what’s interesting though is since you are a professor, do you have access to podcasting in a different way. iTunes has something called iTunes university or iTunes U.
Jason Hartman: Now are your podcast publishing the iTunes university category or the regular category where all the rest of us are?
Cory: Both actually. I do have access to iTunes U, and that has been a really good thing. The way that works is that goes through individual colleges in universities, so Washington College has sort of what site is in exactly the right word, but they have a thing on our Students U. They have a center on iTunes, and they started carrying my podcast, but I had been doing it on iTunes previously.
It was basically once my podcast had established itself, and had a large number of followers then basically there were people in my college who came to me, and said hey we are wanting to start an iTunes U site. Can we put your podcast on there too? And so they did, but it separately maintained. Its not connected automatically to the RSS feed that I put out, so actually it only has the episodes that the tech people at my college have gone through and uploaded themselves, so its actually kind of a subset of them, but it does go to a different pool of people, people who are really seeking out academic content, and that’s really good. It was — we had a kind of exciting period at the end of 2010 when the podcast got, kind of picked up by you know how iTunes sort of selects podcasts to put on their buttons, and what’s hot and all of that and my podcast got flagged on the iTunes U and it was up in the top 10 charts for the most downloaded lecture series for a while. For about a month and a half actually at the end of 2010 that was kind of fun and exciting time.
Jason Hartman: Well, looking at iTunes you’ve got 196 ratings, and your average rating is five stars so congratulations on that.
Cory: Thank you.
Jason Hartman: You’ve got a whole bunch of reviews here in addition to the ratings, and I guess you’ve got 142 episodes so far.
Jason Hartman: Okay and it looks like just to give the listeners some metrics, it looks like the time for your episodes is really all over the board. I see episodes here that are 14 minutes, 7 seven minutes, and then I see one that’s an hour and four minutes, 49 minutes, 32 minutes, so you are really kind of all over the board time wise it sounds like, right?
Cory: It is yeah. Now, the short ones are more unusual. My average section is probably an hour long sometimes even up to two hours long. I have sort of different subsets that I do sometimes. I have some just straight up lecture series that I have done right where I did a lecture. I started off the very first episodes I did was just doing a lecture series working my way through J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbit not exactly chapter-by-chapter, but like one little chunk of chapters at a time going through the book in eight lectures. And those were sort of shorter because they were sort of prescripted stuff.
I wasn’t — it wasn’t really fully spontaneous so they tend to be shorter. Later on I started adding some other features. I started doing some just one-on-one conversations with students, or other talking experts. I started doing; I started recording live class sessions. There are two of the courses that I thought at Washington College, and it’s just, it’s simply with my class with I just miked myself. During the class I was teaching and got the permission of the dean and the school to post that both iTunes U and to my podcast feed. There is a seminar that I did called the Silmarillion Seminar which was a group of people who were just my podcast listeners.
I just posted on my Facebook page one day and said hey, who would like to participate in a study with me. we will have an online video discussion and we will go through the Silmarillion chapter-by-chapter for like 40 weeks, and I got about 20 people who did that with me, and we would sit down for two hours a night, one night a week, and we did that for I think we have 40 sessions and that was really a wonderful group of people, and that just worked out really great, but those tend to be longer episodes and right now my latest series has been one that we are calling Riddles in the Dark, and its specifically focused on the upcoming movie of the hobbit by Peter Jackson that’s going to be released in December, and we are looking at the story of the hobbit and sort of issues for adaptation in the film and kind of speculating what the Peter Jackson people are going to be doing with these things in the film, and kind of talking about what we see in the books, and we are doing a set of predictions as to what we expect to see in the movies and stuff.
It’s been a lot of fun, so all these different segments that we are doing, and again I would just emphasize these are all things that I would; I completely made this up as I went along. I just said this was not like a well fought out strategy on my part from the beginning. It was really just responding to demand. This you know my podcast totally started with me having a passion for teaching a thing, and putting it out there, finding that there were a lot of people who were enthusiastic about it, and then from there just responding to their demands.
When I put this stuff I started doing lectures which people really liked, and still really enjoy, but they wanted to take part in the conversation. They wanted to be able to speak too, so I started doing more and more multi-directional stuff you know whether it would be interviews or calling sessions or class sessions and things like that, so that just kind of grew very organically as we added new things, and started to do more stuff, and that’s been really a tremendous amount of fun, but I said that’s really all been driven by the sort of requests and demands of listeners, and that’s been really good.
Jason Hartman: Cory one of the things I find about podcasting in my years of doing it and one of the things I just love about it is that it gives you this tremendous networking opportunity with other people who may be guest from your shows that you wouldn’t normally get to network with. You may not have access to them I mean for example just you and I talking right now if I was some guy they just called you out in the blue, and I said hey I hear you have this podcast. You probably wouldn’t take the time to talk to me, or you might be very charitable and do that.
I don’t know you that well this good. It gives you a great access to experts, to education and to just a network of people I cannot tell you how that’s improved my life and my business life, and when you said you did that 40 episode series, and you got all these other people involved right. How many people would you say that you were involved in your podcast?
Cory: That have actually taken part like spoken on my podcast?
Jason Hartman: Yeah or in some way you’ve been involved.
Cory: Yeah in some way I’ve been involved.
Jason Hartman: Even in content development or whatever?
Cory: Yeah. I mean I would say over the years at least 40, 50 people.
Jason Hartman: And that’s only a two and a half years we are talking about?
Cory: Right yes exactly, and that’s you know in some ways really my podcast was sort of the beginning what I was doing one of the main things I am doing now is I am essentially launching an entire online academic program which was really just inspired by my podcast. I mean its — again continuing the same kind of organic growth after I had for a while I have been doing this regular sessions and calling sessions, and escalating to the point of actually doing live online seminar discussions with listeners from around the country, and around the world even we had a couple who are — in Canada one, and in South America and anyway so once we had actually gotten to that point, the next question that everybody kept asking me was can we take classes for credit.
You know could we actually do real classes and I eventually began to say well, why shouldn’t we? So basically that’s what I have done, so I have ended up actually founding a new online institution called the Mythgard Institute which is designed, its — we are running a master’s degree program now designed exactly for the people who were, who are my podcast listeners you know and for that whole group of people who were so interested in doing this kind of thing.
To me when you talk about networking one of the things which was only so valuable for me as you’ve got this incredible opportunity to reach people who are interested to hear what you have to say, people who are interested in your subject in your topic, I think it to me it’s the really exciting thing about the whole internet age you know instead of just having a group of people who are deciding what gets put on TV, or deciding what gets put on the radio and you as a consumer are just sitting there, and you have to kind of take what’s given to you. Now, we have you know people making their own decisions, and driving programming themselves, and so basically —
Jason Hartman: It’s the ultimate democracy. It really is.
Jason Hartman: Its totally democratic nowadays yeah.
Cory: It really is, and that’s you know for me you know in my little world its one of the things that I have been really excited about the democratization of academia itself and of education. I mean its something that I — that something that I am also really excited about to take that same kind of principle and really to open up academia not only the kind, if the way in which my podcast is kind of a move towards opening up scholarship and academic publishing, but also you know through my institute we are also working to open up classes as well, so that’s yeah I mean I personally, I find that very exciting, and I am really interested to see I don’t think that process is complete at all yet. I think that there is still some pretty exciting things to come.
Jason Hartman: Well, lets talk about the — well couple of comments. We’ve got a couple of things here. First of all the democratization of the internee now, or the democratization of media and academic and education in general, and so that is definitely true because its no longer vetted. People don’t need to ask for permission.
If you got something to say you just get to direct to the listener, and they get to decide how valuable what you have to say is, and the other part of it not just the democratization and the access to the listener, but the concept of the long tail, and the long tail for those of you who may not have heard of the long tail concept is really the internet how? I mean look at your podcast. Professor Olsen has this podcast and it is very niche oriented.
I mean how specific is that? its not just about — its not just about English. Its not about a certain brand or literature per say. Its about Tolkien specifically I mean it is long tail specific so people who have really narrow particular interest, they can go right there by searching at iTunes or on any search engine and find your content. What a wonderful thing we as podcasters are doing for people and I say that other people who aren’t podcasting yet should be in this world and do it for others. And for yourself now, you haven’t really made any attempt to monetize your show so far as I understand.
Cory: I haven’t. and there are two things as so well, of course one thing that I have to say upfront is I can’t because —
Cory: And these are Tolkien’s name which is trademark.
Jason Hartman: Well okay.
Cory: So I actually could not. I would require permission from the Tolkien which I don’t think they would grant me to monetize —
Jason Hartman: Let me just interrupt here though.
Jason Hartman: You can comment on Tolkien’s work. You don’t permission to that. I don’t believe.
Cory: You don’t need permission to talk about it, no but if I were to be using his name which is trademarked in the title of my thing which I were then selling that would be that would, they could have something to say about that. but the thing is that you know in it for me I actually, I have — I am glad to say I have always had really good relations with the Tolkien estate. I and a lot of respect for them. I have tried to tell them, I actually reached out to them before they reached out to me just to tell them, you know they look I would like, you know nobody has greater respect for Tolkien than I do.
You know I want to know that I am not some [chestier 0:17:31] who is going to be trying to make money on you know Tolkien’s legacy. I am just a scholar and a fan, who loves and admires his work, and I am trying to encourage others to love and admire his work, and I think that they have appreciated that, and that is really sort of born fruit. But the other thing that I would say about that apart from sort of the legal concerns with monetizing my particular podcast directly because of those issues you know thus I think if I had to point to like the single smallest business decision I have ever made in life it was doing a free podcast.
I actually contemplated when I first doing it, and before I had photocopies, trademark issues. My very, very first plan was you know may be I could charge for them you know just a tiny little bit, you know charge a tiny nominal price for each of my lectures. This is when where as I said at the beginning I was writing this sort of this formal lecture series which took a lot of time, and it was a lot of work, so I was thinking well, may be I charge a little bit, take kind of compensated myself for my time, and that was my original plan. I decided no, I am just going to give it all away for free, and just kind of hope that something will come of that down the road.
And you know I don’t think I have ever done anything smarter ever that was really I mean like a turning point in my life essentially making that decision because since it was out there and available for everybody it really spread and also has generated really, really goodwill. I mean its — I have found that the kind of not just listenership, but community that I was been able to establish through that has been just priceless, and it has been the foundation of other things that I have been able to go on and do. And again, and I think to me the — I know there were several of my listeners who were kind of worried that when I reached a certain point of popularity I was going to start changing for things that’s as one approach that people often take with these kinds of things like online newspaper subscriptions and what not.
But I never did that, and I never wanted to do that and instead what it has enabled me to do, its enabled me to basically grow from that, and build on that platform which I have maintained you know and so I have been doing other things. The two other things I have been doing which are monetized are the Mythgard Institute as I say this you know I am now teaching courses online.
Jason Hartman: That’s what I was going to actually mention is that you didn’t monetize the podcast?
Jason Hartman: But out of the podcast came the Mythgard Institute and that is monetizing, right?
Cory: Right yes it is. Now, of course its my — one of the core philosophies of the Mythgard Institute is to make great education available to people for very little so I mean my tuition is extremely low by standards of regular colleges and online colleges.
Jason Hartman: Either that or a regular college commission, or tuition is extremely high that’s what I would like to say.
Cory: Judge for yourself, yews exactly. But anyway so yeah I mean its not — its I am you know I am not yet pricing my own island in the Caribbean on the Mythgard Institute, but anyway yes I am charging for classes there, and but of course the other thing that I have done is I have published a book which is been directly the book that I am publishing is called Exploring the Hobbit. Excuse me; the title is now Exploring J.J.R Tolkien’s, The Hobbit. Its published by Houghton Mifflin, a Harcourt company which is actually the company which publishes Tolkien’s works in America and basically I have no questions about the fact that it was my podcast almost entirely which got that book published.
Most popular publishers like that don’t publish scholarly book. I mean my book is just a discussion, a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the hobbit in detail. Most works of literary criticism are not picked by me to the press is because they are usually not moneymakers but they knew I had a platform. They knew that I had you know I was able to point to the tens of thousands of subscribers that I had and they were excited about that, so and basically the books that I have written and which is going to be released in September is a development of that original lecture series that I started writing.
I started writing that back in what 2007 is when I first started composing it so the podcast didn’t really start up until 2009, but that very first thing I ever wrote is basally the cornerstone of the book that I am now coming out with too, and that’s — and that to me has been such a natural and fun thing. You know my podcast listeners far from feeling like now I am trying to capitalize on them. They are really excited about the book, and we are just having exchanges on Facebook last night about you know them wanting to get signed copies and stuff.
Its been a lot of fun, and so those are for me the two things that have grown out of it, and that’s why again I say as far as podcasting goes, I know that there are some people who want to charge for their podcast and stuff, and you know its possible that you can there are circumstances in which might that work, but I think part of this whole internet spirit you know that we were talking about before part of that democratizing move is inclusiveness’ is you know to welcome people in, and to bring people in, and to establish that kind of a community so that they can see what you are about, and know that they are interested in what you have to say, and then you know they will be interested you know they will order books, and they will signup for classes and things like that because now —
Jason Hartman: You created the community first. You welcomed them in first.
Jason Hartman: And you know frankly I think and this is probably not your world, but I touch into this world a bit. I will call them the typical internet marketer crowd. A lot of them are they won’t podcast because they don’t want to give away their content for free, and I think they are being incredibly stingy by and large, and frankly I think they are actually shooting themselves in the foot. I think they are hurting themselves.
They are really missing out on a huge opportunity because it is such a comfortable way to go when you can establish a long term relationship with people. Give them content, show them who you are, and invite them in, and then the trust is built, the relationship is established, the rapport is there, and they are far more receptive to doing business if you have a business backend, and if you have a monetization strategy for your shows to doing business with you. I mean why wouldn’t they be versus some stranger they are going to find by doing a Google search or the old proverbial going through the yellow pages.
Cory: Its right.
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
Cory: Right the 21st century version. Exactly its also similarly if people are thinking about establishing a podcast or something really simply as a means to an end like in order just to do advertising essentially and as really I think that if you don’t have a podcast, if you don’t have material that you are willing to give away for free just because you are really enthusiastic about it because you are really —
Jason Hartman: Then its not your passion and you don’t love it, and your heart is not in the right place.
Cory: Yeah and people are going to be able to tell that. And I mean people can smell and they are just being sold to, and so I mean I think that’s to me, that’s really the key of the thing. If you have a thing to say, if you have a thing that you really want to talk about that you really want to share with people, and you can do that, and they can tell. You know they can tell that you love this, and they — its something that that they are going to be able to get excited about there.
They are not just being set up for something, but its really something genuine. Its you know one thing that I was trying to make sure that my audience really understood when I opened the Mythgard Institutive last year as in July 2011. and when I opened it, one of the things that I kept saying to people is this does not mean that the talking professor podcast is going to be ending. I am not just going to rolling it over now into this institute which I am going to be charging people for.
You know I’ve been maintaining the podcast, and I continued to release episodes, and my plan in the short term and certainly my plan for the long term is that establishing Mythgard well lonely enabled me to give away more, and to do more stuff. I actually have a producer working with me now and who is actually someone, one of the participants in my online seminar who I stayed on and has become my producer, and she is been great. So, yeah I basically having the institute is only increased my own resources for my podcast enabling to continue it and expand it, so yeah but again its about, its really more than anything just about being genuine about something that you really love.
Jason Hartman: Absolutely. And that absolutely works. Let me take a brief pause. We will be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: Well, tell us a little bit about some of your statistics or ratings or any of the metrics on your show. We talked about a number of episodes. Are you tracking your downloads? I hope you are, and you know your audience sizes.
Cory: Some you know its — yeah some its awkward. Its actually I mean I find that awkward. I really wish. This is what one of my sort of really podcasting pet peeves is the fact that iTunes does not release statistics to podcasters for their regular feeds. I mean I know that they have it because they actually do this for iTunes U. This is one other big difference between iTunes U, and iTunes is that they do release to the schools the detailed statistics for downloads of all of the episode on their site, so I know iTunes has the technology. I don’t know why they don’t send these reports to podcasters. I can’t imagine they would be that my skin off their backs, but whatever anyway so I really wish that they do that. I mean I do have some — I mean I have had about in the neighborhood of 3.5 million downloads now over the two and a half years.
Jason Hartman: I just got to say unbelievable. That’s incredible. You know it really is. okay so listen to these folks. Think about what you are hearing here. This is a professor who would have traditionally may be published a textbook for a very small market or another type of articles in academic journals, and do you know maybe your reach would have been a few hundred, few thousand people —
Cory: Fifty, a hundred?
Jason Hartman: Yeah small market for sure, right?
Jason Hartman: And now in two and a half years with a 142 episodes you have reached three and a half million people that is incredible.
Cory: And around the world I mean that’s of course another thing about you know that thing.
Jason Hartman: Yeah its totally global yeah.
Cory: It is absolutely global. I get — I mean I get email from people around the world. You know who listened to my podcast, and I’ve got a strong following in Europe and Australia and I’ve gotten emails from Kosovo and from China. I got this really delightful email from a 12 year old girl in China who loves talking somehow and listens to my podcast to improve her English. You know it’s just — it’s been incredible, and I always love hearing from people, but yeah.
Jason Hartman: You — I mean think of what you could do. You could start, you could go to the website Meetup.com, and you could have people start Meetup groups globally based on talking and your podcast, and so it could lead to physical meetings and potential monetization there, or greater influence, greater thought leadership. I mean the possibilities folks are endless with these powerful podcast, and even if they are not that big, even if you start a podcast and its not that big coming from a sales and marketing background myself, the traditional person is reaching a 1% at a time.
We’ve all been taught in the business world go to networking events and network. Well, when you do that, you are reaching a 1% at a time. In the world of sales, call on a client, get on the phone, knock on doors, make things happen, you are reaching one prospect at a time, and here you’ve got this wonderful automated basically free technology that is available to you and to the consumer. And I mean looking what, look at what someone like I say an American podcaster for example because most of the podcast I am sure are U.S. based.
I mean they are global of course, but I would say that I bet most of the content by far comes from the U.S. sources okay. Look at what you are doing really for global relationships and its corny as it sounds world peace okay.
Jason Hartman: Because people have a rapport with you. they know you. they know me. I have been in coffee shops. I mean I remember ordering something at Starbucks, and someone hearing my voice and saying, aren’t you Jason Hartman? They have never seen my picture. They only heard my voice. Isn’t that an incredible thing? Look at all the amazing things that come out of it.
Cory: That is a really funny experience when you see somebody do a double take when they hear your voice. Yeah I have seen I’ve had that experience too. Yeah now its very — its that extremely rewarding and the thing is, is that I and this is one of the things that I feel about, this is feel a little bit sort of funny talking about it because is sort of wish that I had a you know a list of like here are the things that you do in order to establish a successful podcast because honestly its like I don’t really know how it happened.
I mean I know my own you know I mean I can speak to my own enthusiasm for the subject and everything, but its as far as actual strategy I had no idea what I was doing. It started —
Jason Hartman: Neither did in the beginning, but you did it.
Cory: Yeah it launched by sort of good fortune. I was — I had started and I was about two weeks into after the release on iTunes originally and I will never forget the morning that it happened. I had been doing about 30 downloads a day you know somewhere between 20 and 30 was a good day for my first two weeks when it was just out there, and when I first opened it up, and I had three episodes up there, and so that was all I had, and then one morning I came downstairs for breakfast, and I just like looked at my site statistics and saw that I already had 1500 downloads by 8:00 a.m., and I was like wow, what on earth happened? Well, what happened was I got put in a new and notable wind in iTunes, and basically from there that was it like from there it was just word-of-mouth.
I never promoted my podcast. It was — it has spread worldwide simply by word-of-mouth. And again to me it’s like it’s the magic of the internet and I think that’s just the way it is.
Jason Hartman: Have you ever done video podcasting or is all of your content audio?
Cory: I have done for my podcast itself I have only done audio stuff. And mostly for me that has just been because well, basically two factors on the one hand video production is so much more time intensive than audio production is, and also I sort of felt that the net gain would be relatively small that is —
Jason Hartman: Its marginal yeah the initial marginal return.
Cory: Especially for me because I know its just you know me talking or me sitting and talking with the person, so I do, — I spend a lot of more effort to do a video version of it like so you can watch me sitting there, talking to a person like it just you know I think that there are a lot of really excellent video podcasts, but for me that wasn’t really something that I was interested in. now, when I’m with the Mythgard Institute, we do have a YouTube channel with some sort of announcement stuff that I have done in some sample classes because we record all of our classes and so there is a bit of a video element there, but with my podcast, no I’ve never really done video.
Jason Hartman: Well, fantastic well what else would you like the listeners to know, what else can they learn from what you have done maybe this is a good question. Just talk for just a quick moment about equipment?
Jason Hartman: How were you recording? What you doing any tools you use or applications or do you use WordPress and FeedBurner all of that kind of stuff?
Cory: Basically I just started using I mean I started and I don’t do much more than this now. I just bought myself a headset, a USB headset for MIO laptop. I have a MacBook laptop. We just recorded using my headset in garage band.
Jason Hartman: Which headset did you use?
Cory: It was it’s a Sennheiser, but its really I mean under a 100 bucks. I mean its not a fancy thing.
Jason Hartman: That $45 Plantronics one is pretty great.
Cory: Yeah I mean I’ve got some Plantronics stuff that’s another company that I really like. Yeah I mean they — that’s — its very simple. I’ve got a little more sophisticated equipment as time has goes on. I have a field recorder that I really like. It’s a zoom H4n.
Jason Hartman: I have that one.
Cory: Fantastic field recorder, I love this thing. I’ve used it to record class; I’ve used it for interviews. I did — it did this magical thing once where I was recording a conversation in a bar on disco night, so they were dancing. It was like booming dance music. We could barely hear each other, but somehow the H4 magically like cancels out that, I didn’t mean like you can still hear that the music is happening, but you could actually hear us talking more clearly on the recording then we could hear lie.
Jason Hartman: That’s as always better than the human ear that’s amazing.
Cory: It was. Its just incredible. So anyway, so I mean I love that thing, but that something that I brought may be two years in, but yes I mean it required no, you know you don’t need, you certainly don’t need startup capital to begin a podcast just you know buy yourself a $50 headset and you can use some pretty basic recording apps. I have also used Audacity which is freeware, and that’s a fine recording program. I mean that’s something that I and my producer have used a lot.
Jason Hartman: When you are using your MacBook and your Sennheiser headset what are you recording with then?
Cory: Usually GarageBand actually.
Jason Hartman: So are you using Skype and then GarageBand?
Cory: Yes I do. Well, for it depends on the thing that I am doing. If I am doing a one-on-one conversation I usually do, do that over Skype and then actually the recording program I use when I am recording Skype is Audio Hijack that’s my favorite.
Jason Hartman: So that’s just a piece of software you download on to your Mac, right?
Cory: Yeah exactly and it just — its not free, but its cheap. And its just basically records all the sounds on your computer so you can — it does great recording since Skype I found so that’s what I use for you know at those.
That was may be my very for other than the headset, may be very first investment when I decided to do the Collin shows and stuff I went out and downloaded it like $20 license for Audio Hijack Pro, and was able to record my Skype conversations that way. I use a related program actually the same company that makes Audio Hijack Pro, its called ScreenFlow to capture both video and audio when I am doing my Mythgard classes that’s how I generate the recordings for the Mythgard classes that I post for my students because if my students can’t catch the classes live, I have video and audio recordings of the classes for them, so I use a this sort of big brother of Audio Hijack Pro which is called ScreenFlow for the Mac, but Camtasia is the name of the nearest PC software I think to ScreenFlow as far as being able to capture video on screen and also audio, but anyway I mean its really — they are really pretty simple stuff. I mean I have never used the soundboard. I don’t have anything like that. its —
Jason Hartman: When I first started I had the mixer and all that expensive stuff, and I tell you nowadays I just use a call recorder, and it works great and a good microphone. I do have a good microphone.
Cory: Right. Yes and that is —
Jason Hartman: Its really inexpensive to do this, very portable too. Anywhere in the world I can go I can record a podcast. Its awesome.
Cory: Absolutely. Yeah I know its — and this is that’s the other thing I love about the H4 is that you can hook mikes up to it, and you can connect it to your computer, your laptop through a USB connection. Its really small and portable, so yeah that’s exactly its whenever I go anywhere I can have my whole podcasting kit and my carry on and that’s really easy, so yeah there are certainly — there is very little reason for anybody to be scared away from it for tech reasons. Its just not very complicated.
Jason Hartman: Its not complicated and its not expensive so absolutely true. Well, they just wrap up by telling us what’s next for you. what are your plans for your shows?
Cory: Well, the main thing we are doing right now is sort of the new series that we are doing as I mentioned before the Riddles in the Dark series we are looking to kind of expand this as of course we move towards I know in my world this is been moving large for years, and we’ve been talking about this, and watching it developed ever since about 2009 actually. The new Peter Jackson blockbuster treatment of the Hobbit that’s going to come the first half this fall, and the second half next fall, so in the Tolkien world that is like the big thing that’s coming, and everybody is excited about it. so we are doing a lot more kind of talking with that, and I am very interested to see if there are ways that I can actually work with Peter Jackson’s people.
I would love to get in touch with them that’s one thing, that I am that I have been kind of working on, but anyway I am you know so we are excited to kind of continue that. We’ve started this whole prediction game where we have partners from other podcasts and some bloggers and some other professionals I have got a representative of Houghton Mifflin, a Harcourt, Tolkien’s publisher and my publisher also of course.
And I have some you know some other scholars and people coming into this and we have these big predictions grid where we are sort of guessing what’s going to be happening in the film and stuff, so that’s sort of lot of fun, so that’s one of the main things that we are kind of thinking about, but of course for me the other, the big thing for me is the development of the Mythgard Institute and we are doing online classes.
We are starting to kind of branch out. We began with really just sort of pure niche classes which we still are going to continue. You know we Mythgard is always going to retain a focus on Tolkien studies and fantasy literature and stuff, but we are also branching out into wider fields, my goal is to — my goal there really is nothing short of providing a really dynamic educational alternative to high priced freaking motor education where people can pay a great deal less for really high quality interactive live teaching.
Jason Hartman: Hearing this from a professor is blasphemy you know.
Cory: Yeah I know.
Jason Hartman: They talk about the military industrial complex. How about talking about the college and tuition complex? I mean it is unbelievable. Lets call it the university student loan complex? How is that?
Cory: Yes well, see here is the issue there of course is that the professors themselves though they are in many ways kind of ideologically invested in it, its not like they are profiting financially really from this tuition thing.
Jason Hartman: Not directly, I agree.
Cory: And so in fact its one of the things I mean as a business model, its one of the things that has been kind of a core business principle for the Mythgard Institute is that I think by actually leveraging online technology I can provide an education which is of a really high quality with as I say live interactive small classes with really good professors which will cost people way, way less, and yet actually enable me to pay professors better than they get paid at other schools because when you — its amazing how the budget is altered when you remove the multi-million dollar buildings from the equation. It really changes the scene a little bit.
Jason Hartman: Fair enough, absolutely. Well, hey its been great talking with you. I know it is late in the evening in Delaware. We appreciate you staying up late to talk to us, and just keep up the good work. Do give out your websites though before you go.
Cory: Sure. The main website for my podcast is www.talkingprofessor.com just one word talkingprofessor, and the — my institute’s website is www.mythgard.org, and you can also find this sort of parent university that is we are building in partnership with the Mythgard Institute is signumuniversity.org.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Well Professor Cory Olsen and podcaster Professor Cory Olsen thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.
Cory: Thank you for having me. This was fun.
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The Speaking of Wealth Show Team
Transcribed by: Renee’