Featuring Podcasting Luminaries: Phedippidations with Steve Runner

Steve Runner from Pheddipidations (“Fed-hip-id-ay-shuns”) has been podcasting since July 4, 2005. A true and steady podcasting pioneer, steady, inspiring, determined and an all around lovely man. Check out what’s kept him going and as always SUBSCRIBE!

Fun, Fame or Profit? Why are you podcasting?

I produce Phedippidations both for fun and because I feel that that podcasting can make the world a better place.

I first laced up my shoes in the winter of 1998, and after finishing my first marathon in the Autumn of 1999, I came to believe that the act of running is one of the ways that human beings can achieve and maintain both health and happiness.

I started out as a Blogger, writing essays and articles on the topic of running under the title “Phedippidations”. This a title I created to pay homage to “Pheidippides” the Athenian herald who legend says ran the from the fields of Marathon to Athens, Greece with news that the outnumbered Athenian army had conquered the Persians.

“PHEDIPPIDations” is a series of conversATIONS about running, living your life to the top of your game. It’s about contemplating the philosophical questions that the ancient Greek Philosophers first posed, as it relates to the sport.

Have you found that social media has expanded your listener base/reach?

Social media has not helped to increase my audience very much, if at all. The libsyn statistics are incredibly accurate, and show no correlation between the number of my social media followers and those who download (and listen) to Phedippidations.

I have significantly more runners subscribed to my podcast than those who follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

I feel that social media has its place in helping me to engage with my audience. I use Twitter, Facebook and other services to get immediate feedback from my listeners and to update them on what I’m doing with the show. As my audience is mostly comprised of runners, we share our daily running experiences with each other as a way to inspire and motivate each other to get our miles in!

What is your podcasting workflow?

I almost always get my ideas for show topics while I’m out on a “long run” (when I have plenty of time to think). Typically I’ll begin research for an episode, and creating a script outline roughly eight weeks prior to publication.

I generally produce several different episode formats, for example:

  • My running of a road race, such as a marathon (Every year, for example, I record my own running of the Boston Marathon, and produce an episode with the sounds of my 26.2 mile run from Hopkinton Massachusetts all the way to downtown Boston).
  • A narrative presentation of a “Running Legend” in our sport.
  • Special shows such as episodes 55, 111, 147, 198 and 242 recorded from the Allagash Wilderness in the northern Maine Woods), and episodes dedicated to the “Word Wide Festival of Races” (a global virtual run that I’ve helped to organize annually for the past six years), as well as running meet-ups (which we call “Mojo Loco” events) where fellow runners get together to go for a run, in person!

I still use my old “iRiver 800 series” MP3 player/recorder for the “running” sequence of each episode: where I walk out of my squeaky front door and begin the days “long run”. I use a “Giant Squid” lapel microphone with a small lapel “wind sock” from Radio Shack for this segment.

For narration, I typically record in my studio (two ElectroVoice RE-20 microphones going into a Comp16 PreSonus compressor which feeds into a Eurorack UB1240FX-Pro 8 channel mixer). I feed an analog signal to my H2 Handy Recorder (which I also use for on-location recording) and take the MP3 output files for editing on my Windows based laptop.

When I have all of the raw tracks recorded, I edit them using Audacity. I save the completed audio file in .WAV format and use either The Conversations Networks “Levelator” or iTunes to even out the audio levels.

I edit the MP3 tags using Florian Heidenreich’s MP3Tag application and post to libsyn typically a week in advance (which gives me time to record some video bonus content for those who purchase my “Virtual Running Partner” iPhone and Android App).

Do download numbers matter matter to you? or is audience engagement key?

Not really; although as the number of listeners to Phedippidations has increased I have made more of an effort to improve the quality of my podcast.

A friend (and mentor) by the name of Christopher Penn recently taught me that having a larger, ever-increasing audience is a serious responsibility that I must not take for granted. Listeners to Phedippidations dedicate an hour of their time to listening to me run and talk with them, and I owe them something back.

For me, audience engagement is far more important than the number of fellow (and new) runners who listen to Phedippidations. I produce the show as a way of inspiring and motivating others to run by having a conversation and asking them to contemplate why this lifestyle is important. I want to help to create and celebrate a real (not virtual) running community.

Anyone who is listening to Phedippidations is going for a run with me, and as I’m the only one who has the microphone during our time together: I have an obligation to entertain, educate and (at the very least) keep my fellow runners company while we’re out on the road.

I can see that the number of listeners to Phedippidations is increasing, but it’s the engagement with my audience (and encouraging them to engage with each other) that motivates me to go out for a run with them and record a new episode.

What advise would you give a new podcaster so that they keep going!

I agree with all of the usual advice that veteran podcasters give to new podcasters (be consistent, keep the duration short, discard your first few attempts until your satisfied with the quality of your show, etc.) but I would add a few other bits of advice to help encourage new podcasters to keep going:

Podcast Your True Passion

It’s not enough to get behind a microphone (or camera) and speak about things that interest you, or that you enjoy talking about.

You have to speak from deep within your soul! You have to send the inaudible message that this topic matters: it’s more important than life itself! You have to be willing to embarrass yourself, to let your emotions spill out and always speak from a perspective of true belief.

Visualize, in your mind, a single person who you’re trying to reach: and speak to that person as if it is the most important conversation you’ll ever have. When you have that kind of a connection with your audience: you will savor the time you get to speak to them, and podcasting will allow you to keep that conversation going.

Embrace Evolution

One of my favorite people in the world (and someone who has been podcasting for much longer than I have), Adam Tinkoff (aka The Zen Runner), has redefined his podcasting projects on an almost annual basis. From “Tinkoff Radio” to “Burning Twenty” all the way to his latest podcast “The Slow Runners Club”, Adam has always kept his interest in podcasting fresh and alive by changing formats, programs and mission statements.

With Phedippidations I’ve made subtle changes as well, taking my show from it’s stated “Thoughts, Opinions, Observations and Rambling Diatribes composed during Distance Long Runs” to the current iteration of “Inspirations, motivations, contemplations and conversations for and about runners”.

Podcasting can be a journey not just for your listeners, but for yourself: and you have to be willing to change and evolve what you create; just as you will change as you produce your show.

Push The Boundries and Put Yourself Out There

On the surface, Phedippidations is a podcast about running: but at another (less revealed) level: it’s about living a good life. With that in mind, I sometimes will produce an episode that doesn’t seem to have much to do with running at all.

In episode 235 I took a stand against the Nike Corporation by interviewing the controversial theologian, activist, educator and founder of Educating for Justice, Inc, Jim Keady, who has made it his life’s mission to show how Nike enslaves their workers in third world countries, forcing them to work in sweatshops so that Nike can make billions in profits from their unfair labor practices.

That episode angered a lot of my listeners (many of whom are fans of Nike products) but it also made them think.

Sometimes you have to get a little outrageous and step out of format to make a statement worth hearing. When you ignore the artificial boundaries that you’ve created, your interest in what you’re doing behind the microphone (or camera) will be refreshed and renewed.

Put yourself out there, get angry, scream, cry, laugh, beat your fists: but don’t perform such acts for the purpose of being controversial: BE HONEST and your audience will feel the same fire that you feel. This collective passion will make you eager to speak with your listeners again and again.

That is the magic of podcasting.

If you want to be a part of the Phedippidations community you can follow Steve on Twitter, his Facebook Podcast Page, his website, subscribe to his podcast, or get his podcast app!

Wanna be a part of the incredible runner’s community that he has built? Check out the 6th Annual World Wide Festival of Races – A virtual run with fellow runners all over the country that he first started in October of 2005. It’s free, fun and you can run any distance you’re comfortable with! Go to WWFOR.com for more information!

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