Category Archives: Audio

Why are podcasts still so hard to make?

Good question.

Last year I began dabbling in podcasting. Earlier this year two friends and I launched Triple Take, a podcast about the books, films and albums that shape us. Along the way, we’ve taught ourselves virtually everything we know about podcasting. It gets easier with practice, but editing each episode takes time.

This week my cohost John sent me a Medium piece, “Why are podcasts still so hard to make?,” with the hope that the app it described would cut down on my audio editing time. It won’t; what we aim for with Triple Take is more sophisticated than that app, Bumpers, can produce.

But if you’re looking for a simple way to produce a one-off audio project or a basic podcast, Bumpers may be your answer. I think of it as Videolicious for audio; you don’t need much understanding of technology or editing, but your musical options are limited.

I tested the app out by talking about one of the highlights of my week: I’ve just scheduled my cat yoga birthday party. (Yes, seriously.) Hear it for yourself below. And hey, subscribe to Triple Take in iTunes or the podcast catcher of your choice. It takes time to make, but it sure is worth it.

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Art shapes us. How has it formed you?

Triple Take BraggIt started with a text. My colleague John Hammontree (pictured above) messaged Edward Bowser and I in January, suggesting we collaborate on a podcast about books, music and movies and how they shape us.

John’s message was probably just that long, with few details. But it struck a nerve, and later that week we sat around a coffee-shop table to hash out what such a project could entail.

We recorded a test episode, which was a great way to confirm our hunch that we’d work well together–and that we needed to improve our audio setup. That took some time (and money) to figure out. Then we needed to book our first guest.

If we’re going to make something of this, let’s swing for the fences, we thought. We hit a grand slam when we interviewed Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, bestselling author, writing instructor and magazine columnist. I’m delighted by the results.

You can read more about the podcast and stream the first episode here, or subscribe (please subscribe!) in iTunes. We intend to release two episodes per month, and we welcome suggestions for future guests.

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Filed under Audio, Journalism

I must be traveling on now ’cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see

We’re one week from the debut of “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music,” and I can hardly wait! I’m also excited to share the book’s most recent press coverage. Alec Harvey, the managing producer of entertainment, dining and travel at Alabama Media Group, asked me to share my favorite songs recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. It was a challenge, and I couldn’t stop at my original list of five (so you get a bonus song!). But here’s the fun thing: You can listen to these and other songs yourself via the Spotify playlist below. I’d like to know, what are your favorite examples of the Muscle Shoals sound?

Carla Jean Whitley knows a lot about Muscle Shoals.

For the past year or so, the managing editor of Birmingham magazine has been researching and writing her first book, “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music.”

The book, a history of the famed recording studio in northwest Alabama, details the many superstars who have recorded there, the songs they sang, and, of course, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a group of studio musicians better known as the Swampers. Read more “‘ Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’ author details her favorite songs recorded there” at

Today’s subject line comes from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird,” which was originally recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Learn more about the studio 

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Filed under Audio, Books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, music, Press

Loving local music

You would think I’d be tired of these songs by now. But you’d be wrong.

I’ve been lucky that my life and career have allowed me a lot of opportunities to support Birmingham, the city I love above all others. This spring, that included judging entries in the Alys Stephens Center’s ASC Commissions Birmingham songwriting contest. Beginning in January, the ASC invited local songwriters to submit videos of their original songs for this contest. Over the course of three weeks in April and May, a panel of judges reviewed the 86 submissions, rating them on qualities such as originality and how much each song reflects the city.

Yes, that means I listened to and rated 86 songs. That task became even more difficult after the judging panel narrowed the list down to 12 finalists. I listened to those 12 songs over and over and over again in an effort to determine which stood out the most.

I was in great company on this panel, which included Chris Confessore, resident conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra; Eric Essix, UAB Department of Music instructor and president of Essix Music Group/Essential Recordings; composer Yotam Haber, director of MATA Festival; Bobby Horton, musical historian and composer; Kimberly Kirklin, director of the ASC’s ArtPlay; Scott Register, host of “Reg’s Coffeehouse” on Birmingham Mountain Radio; and Jessica Simpson, owner of Artistic Endeavors, LLC. It’s a talented group of people with a range of preferences, and so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the finalists reflect a variety of genres.

This weekend, the top three contenders will be announced, and each will receive studio time to record their songs.

Join me and the musicians on June 21 to celebrate LOCAL, a free festival featuring music, food, brews and goods. The event will include merchants such as Oli. O, Green Bottle Candle Co. and Stone Hollow Farmstead Pantry, food and drinks from Steel City Pops, Octane and others and performances by the contest’s 12 finalists. In the meantime, take a sneak peek at the finalists. My votes have already been cast, but I’d love to hear what you think of this talented group.


Filed under Audio, music

Top 10 albums of 2008

Originally posted on worstweblogintheworld.

Cardinals, Cardinology
It’s far from my favorite Ryan Adams, but like I said, this is the year of the fan girl.

Tristan Prettyman, Hello
I can’t help but smile when I’m listening to Tristan. This was a perfect spring CD.

Peter Bradley Adams, Leavetaking
Apparently this was also the year of dark, moody CDs… And Birmingham folks. This list is disproportionately skewed toward the locals.

Matthew Mayfield, The Fire EP
I am really excited to see what’s ahead for MM.

Act of Congress, Declaration
One of my favorite local bands, and even better live.

Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon
This is my favorite in years from Sandra.

Sam Phillips, Don’t Do Anything
Again with the moody CDs… there are a few moments when the light breaks through, but the dark, moody feel makes it for me.

Red Mountain Music, Silent Night
What’s a year without a Red Mountain CD on the top 10?

Tift Merritt, Another Country
This CD can fight its way into the top 10 on the strength of “Broken” alone.

Punch Brothers, Punch
I was prepared to be devastated by Nickel Creek’s “hiatus.” Then I heard Chris with these guys. I think I’ll be OK.

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Filed under Audio, Listing, music

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland

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Filed under Audio, Bits & Pieces, General

Elementary romance feelin’ nervous at the dance

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Filed under Audio, Love letters, Picky Picky Princess

Big town full of little white lies

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Filed under Audio, General, Travel

Oh (West) Virginia…

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create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide

(If the image isn’t showing up – sorry. I don’t know what the deal is. But you should know that I have been in five of those states today – VA, WV, TN, GA and AL. What a day!)

And indeed, there I am.


Filed under Audio, Travel

Sorry I’m not home right now, I’m walking into spiderwebs

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