This week's episode was a fun one - Alex and Rachel got a chance to sit down and chat with longtime streamer and Switchboard user, Stephen Heywood, who happens to run The Tech Buzz, which we'll learn more about during our chat.
Some History About Stephen
About 15 years ago, Stephen started doing a Life Cast about technology. He initially used the UStream.TV platform to do this. This was inspired by someone he knew who did a similar thing, but instead of offering something interesting that would engage people, he just sat there and did... nothing. Stephen realized he could do the same, but instead, talk to people and offer a fun, learning experience.
The Streaming Experience
He has been with Switchboard from the get go. In fact, he was a Joicaster user! The reason he signed up initially was because he found himself confronted with local bandwidth issues while streaming to multiple platforms. Don't forget, there was no Zoom back then!
Stephen tells us about his passion for helping people, which was his motivation for doing this in the first place. He felt he had a talent and skills to share with others. For example, one of his shows called Broadcast Now teaches people how to broadcast. He created it as a way to give back to the community that has followed and supported him over the years.
Stephen takes us through his very impressive studio setup, including his audio mixer, tricaster interface, multiple laptops, soundproofing, cameras (he has 12), and more. As for his audience, Stephen streams to Facebook and YouTube mostly, although he doesn't consider himself a "YouTuber". He posts videos when he wants to rather than on a specific schedule. And he's managed to gain a loyal audience from this approach. But, he notes, you have to be consistent. If you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain day/time, make sure you show up. People won't forgive you if you don't.
Suggestions for Newcomers
- Don't just go out and buy. Start with the equipment you have. Learn how it really works. Even if it's your smart phone.
- Just do it. Start building content. Get a gofundme going if need be. Incorporate your audience. Your audience will back you if you're doing something they will enjoy.
- Don't delete what you create when you first get started - this will keep you grounded, humble, and you can look back and have a laugh.
- Watch your show and learn from yourself. DON'T aiming for perfection.
- Consider what you're doing differently that'll make other people want to watch or listen. Focus on the value you're bringing to the community.
Lastly, Stephen says he can count on one hand the number of times the platform have given him any issues (like maintenance, etc). To him, reliability is key which is why he has stuck with Switchboard for so long. As a content creator, he suggests taking a look at Switchboard. Additionally, he notes that if you're looking to get into this professionally, make a plan. Spend some time. Practice the way you would a musical instrument...develop that muscle memory. It'll pay off in the long term.
To learn more about Stephen or his shows, check him out at TheTechBuzz.net
In The News
What We Lose When We Livestream Church
Exciting news is always abound, or so it seems, in the livestreaming world. This week we chatted about two particularly interesting articles - one of which is an opinion piece from The New York Times entitled What We Lose When We Livestream Church. Initially, when you start to read this, it's easy to come to the conclusion that livestreaming church services just isn't the same as the in-person experience. Truth is, this IS the viewpoint of the author, BUT there are valid points on both sides of the coin which makes it an enjoyable read for those that might disagree with their view.
The writer calls out the fact that smaller churches can't "compete" with larger ones as far as livestreams go, making it an unfair playing field. Their productions just won't be as good because they just don't have the $$ to put behind equipment like fancy cameras or HD quality, etc. There's truth to that, in large part because the digital experience matters. Another interesting point is that donations from livestreams tend to fall short. The author calls out that this alone might cause some churches to just pull the plug because the losses are too big.
All of that said, the writer clearly feels strongly about the in-person experience of seeing, feeling, BEING there for church. But, not everyone sees it the same. So there is the reality that churches need to continue to adapt to accommodate everyone they can. Livestreams are the only way to do that.
Kalam Labs Raises $450K For Educational Gaming Platform
The next article we discussed was about Kalam Labs, which raised 450k to support their educational gaming platform. These games are geared toward children ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, and enable them to learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through fun, virtual content led by an instructor.
One unique fact is that Kalam Labs is run by 21 year old founders who have been working on the platform for about 2 years. Alex and Rachel discuss the reality that, while screen time is not always the preferred way of learning, it is THE WAY of the world right now. So there is absolutely validity to this platform, and the interactivity and gamification factors involved make it a unique and exciting opportunity for little ones to take part in.
To listen to this episode and more, please visit The Dot Live Experience Podcast here.