Neal Augenstein

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Broadcasting pro: Change or die

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Change is hard – it’s harder in the world of broadcasting.

With radio and television bosses expecting employees to do more with fewer resources, reluctance to experiment with new technologies and methods of storytelling is no longer an option, says Holland Cooke, whose years of being a radio consultant has morphed to “leveraging talk radio and Internet.”

“Tech is evolving so rapidly now, ‘We’ve never done it that way before’ is pretty much a reason to try it,” says Cooke. “We should do it because we’ve never done it that way before.”

Cooke was the operations manager at WTOP for 7 years, before I joined the station in 1997.

He remembers when a line item for budgets included “batteries for cassette recorders,” and when bulky bag phones were cutting edge technology.

In traditional broadcast industries, many veterans prefer to stick with what they know. Cooke says that practically guarantees those dinosaurs will become extinct.

“I love going to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every year,” says Cooke. “It’s culturally different from the broadcast industry where there’s comfort in the familiar, and best practices that we rely on because they’re time tested old school practices.”

Yet, to be competitive, digital news organizations have to keep changing, even as they’re learning how to incorporate the newest technology.

“At CES, everything that was shiny and new a year earlier is now obsolete – and that’s the point,” says Cooke. “We want to make it smaller, and smarter, and faster, and pleasant surprise, often it’s less expensive.”

No playbook to follow

Cooke says experimenting with consumer-grade phones and tablets and inexpensive applications is far more cost-effective than buying expensive hardware.

“I find some of the tips and hacks on your website real ingenious,  and there’s a community about all this, where we enjoy passing advice back and forth,” says Cooke.

Unlike past years where new technologies went in search of customers, “It’s really the other way around – technology scrambling to keep up with the ways that we need devices to enable us,” says Cooke.

Despite the expectation that journalists be comfortable with creating content on mobile devices, few news organizations teach employees the tips, techniques, and strategies.

“There ought to be more training of the kind that you do,” says Cooke. “You did a lot of on the job training yourself, and I think the experience you have to share is real valuable.”

Cooke encourages the next generation of journalists to maximize and market their familiarity with mobile devices.

“If you want to get hired, present yourself to the digital immigrants – the baby boomers who are radio station managers – as a digital native,” says Cooke.

“College age kids today grew up manipulating this stuff and frankly, folks our age need them to help us translate what we do to that new platform. So I think it’s very opportune to hire young, because there’s a skill set that goes along with that generation.”

How to post a Voddio report to audioBoom

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

It’s official:  audioBoom replaces SoundCloud in my must-have #iphonereporting apps.

Featured image

There was only one #iphonereporting function that was keeping SoundCloud’s mobile app on my phone — the ability to upload and share a fully-produced report that I’d edited in Vericorder’s Voddio app.

After SoundCloud’s decision to make it nearly impossible to create and share mobile content simply, I went looking for a replacement app for the times a reporter has to provide a series of multi-media posts, using only a mobile device.

An example might be twice-hourly reports from a protest, where the reporter’s voice and natural sound can paint a vivid picture.

I’ve been very impressed by audioBoom, which used to be known as Audioboo.

audioBoom does all the things that a reporter with SoundCloud used to be able to do: record a basic voicer in-app, trim front and back, add a photo, and share quickly.

One problem — audioBoom’s app doesn’t have a way to upload audio from other apps.

Yet, it turns out audioBoom has an excellent workaround.

The reporter can post to his or her audioBoom account by emailing the audio file to a specific address, which will post the report to the journalist’s audioBoom account.

It takes a few steps to configure:

Start by sending a blank email to

audioBoom’s Lance Paterson had to help me through the rest of the set-up, because I’d inadvertently set up three accounts (I know, I know….)

After configuring the account once,  and with the Audioboo Submission address in your Contacts, emailing the report to that address will result in it posting to your audioBoom account.

Once it’s posted in the account, sharing by Twitter, Facebook, and email is easy.

It’d be great if audioBoom could contact Vericorder to make posting a one-touch snap — hint, hint.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Amazon Fire records audio better than iPhone 5

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm



The new Amazon Fire isn’t ready to replace the Apple iPhone in my #iphonereporting bag of tricks, but audio recorded in the built-in microphone of the Fire surpasses the iPhone 5.

In a basic A-B test, the Fire sounds richer than the iPhone.

The Fire does not have a built-in audio recording app (like VoiceMemo for iPhone) so I used the free Easy Voice Recorder app on the Fire and Voddio on the iPhone.


The Amazon Fire is only available on AT&T, which provided me a device to test.

Earlier, I found the Samsung S5 sounds better than the iPhone, and I’d give the edge to the S5 over Fire, too.

Unfortunately, since I still haven’t found an intuitive Android multi-track editing app for Fire’s operating system it would be difficult to do a fully-produced report in the field.

Let me know what you think.

Tweeting audio for PIOs with AudioBoo

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

AudioBoo is my new choice for instances in the field where it’s necessary to record audio, do a quick trim front and back, add a photo, and share.

SoundCloud used to fill that role, but its recent decision to make its mobile app a “listening and discovery” app removed the ability to record audio in the app.

Now, my only use for SoundCloud is to share fully-produced reports edited on Voddio.

Here’s my earlier post describing why tweeting audio is such a valuable tool for public information officers and public relations professionals.

This is how an AudioBoo post can be embedded into a website.

Let me know if you have any questions.






Who “invented” #iphonereporting?

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Clearly, a lot has happened in the past several years, with journalists and others using smartphones and tablets to help tell their stories.

Today I was curious, and did a little research to see who first coined the word “iphonereporting.”

In my not-terribly-scientific-or-complete search through the Topsy search engine, I searched for variations:

It seems that this was the first variation to appear, in July 2008:

Of course Etan Horowitz is the @CNNMobile editor and blogs at

In January 2009 I joined Twitter, with a bunch of WTOP coworkers.

The first time we used Twitter in news coverage was during President Obama’s inauguration.

By the beginning of February 2010, I had started using my iPhone 3Gs to do all my audio recording, editing, and voicing. When I researched it a few years ago, it seemed like I was the first major market radio reporter to do all of his field producing on an iPhone.

Back then, I wasn’t concentrating on what to call what I was doing. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I would keep doing it.

I recall describing it as “doing all my reporting with my iPhone” and dabbled with the clumsy phrase “iPhone-only reporting.”

Also in February 2010 appears to be the first Twitter post with the hashtag (but capital R).

And, in June of 2010, another variation:

In November 2010, Damon Kiesow (@dkiesow), then of Poynter, was kind enough to write the first article about how I was using my iPhone, but neither of us referred to it as “iphonereporting.”

In February 2011 I launched my first Tumblr blog, and called it iPhoneReporting.

Ironically, according to Topsy, I’d still never tweeted with that hashtag.

And, finally in July 2011, this happened:

Now, of course, the hashtag is very active, and I learn a lot from colleagues and friends, including @MarcSettle, @GlenBMulcahy, @nicholasgarnett,  @CharlesRHodgson, @AmaniChannel, @robbmontgomery and everyone else who is kind enough to share their experiences.

That’s my take on how it happened — who can fill me in on other details?






Talking #iphonereporting with AARP

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2014 at 9:57 am


Had a fabulous #iphonereporting training session with a couple dozen members of AARP‘s social media and TV teams, with lots of how-tos, and discussion about content that can be generated on a mobile device.

Click on this Storify to see what we talked about.

New Samsung S5 sounds better than iPhone

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 5:58 am


When I started #iphonereporting in 2010,  only the iPhone had the hardware and software capable of recording great-quality audio in the device’s built-in microphone, doing precise editing and mixing, and sharing a fully-produced audio wrap.

An Android phone is catching up, quickly.

The built-in microphone of the new Samsung S5 with the phone’s Voice Recorder app sounds every bit as good — perhaps better — than the iPhone 5 recorded into Voice Memos.

Here’s an A-B test:


To my ears, the S5 sounds warmer than the iPhone 5, with better bass response, but plenty of brightness, too

On the downside for the S5, there is noticeable wind distortion several times throughout the recording, although I’m confident slipping a windscreen over the bottom of the phone will eliminate the problem.

While the iPhone 5’s built-in microphone sounds a bit tinnier, it does a better job of capturing the ambient sounds of birds tweeting than the S5.

Both the S5 and iPhone 5 produce .m4a files, and are easily trimmed and emailed or sent as SMS attachments.

 The fatal flaw for #iphonereporting

The audio improvement in Android hardware and software is great news for journalists who encourage newsmakers to turn a smartphone into a microphone during a landline interview — more interviewees can now provide great-sounding audio.

However, I still haven’t discovered a powerful, easy-to-use multitrack audio editing application for Droid — and that’s a major problem.

The goal of #iphonereporting is to be able to record, edit, and transmit finished pieces entirely on the mobile device.

There are several iOS editing apps available, which can do the fine-tuning, snipping, moving, and overlaying needed for professional-sounding content.

Apple hasn’t substantially improved its built-in microphone since I got my first 3GS.

Samsung has done its part to close the hardware gap, let’s see which Android developer wants to become the mobile journalism rock star.

Let me know if you have any questions.

(BTW, AT&T provided the S5 used in this testing)

Here’s a phone, go be a reporter

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

It sounds ridiculous, and it is.

Far too many news organizations — most notably newspapers — have tossed smartphones to trained journalists, and expected them to assume new responsibilities, and immediately deliver the same quality content they did on traditional gear.

I consider that journalistic malpractice.

While news managers have noticed #iphonereporting can deliver professional audio, video, photography, text, and social media far cheaper than on legacy gear, few empower their employees with strategies, tools, and freedom to create.

Consider the award-winning photojournalists and print reporters who have been told they are expected to suddenly execute their perfected craft on a tiny consumer-grade device.

Concerns about quality are well-founded — it is easy to produce junky content on a smartphone.

Yet, with some creative thinking and consideration about what smartphones do and don’t do well, it is possible (and fun) to tell beautifully-produced stories.

Reporting on mobile devices isn’t better or worse than “the way we’ve always done it” — it’s another way to inform and entertain.

The phone is a tool. That’s it.

A photojournalist’s trained eye and years of experience in framing shots and knowledge of lighting, pacing, and visual storytelling is going to produce a more polished nuanced report than a would-be reporter armed only with an iPhone and apps.

A radio reporter who knows how to use natural sound to bring a listener to the scene is going to be better-equipped than a person who is presented with a phone and some apps, and told “go be a reporter.”

To my way of thinking, the most exciting aspect of #iphonereporting is the freedom to tell stories in the manner best-suited for the story.

Sometimes what’s happening is best portrayed by a reporter and newsmaker. Or, just the newsmaker’s voice. Or a montage of photos with natural sound. Or a series of short videos. Or a single photo.

Allowing journalists the freedom to tell stories in unconventional, and still-to-be-discovered ways is the most empowering and smartest thing a news manager can do to help newsrooms transition to #iphonereporting.

Let me know if you have any questions.

#iphonereporting when you lose the Internet

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

Since #iphonereporting involves data transmission,  you need an Internet connection.

As everyone knows, sometimes you can’t connect to the Net because the service is down, or because too many people are using it.

So, I always tell clients to have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

I shared some workarounds with On The Marc Media.

Marc Blank-Settle of the BBC pulled together a Storify on options for mobile journalists when you’re out of touch with the Internet.

Let me know if you have any questions!

#iphonereporting tip for windy days

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

The iPhone is very susceptible to wind, even a moderate breeze.

The problem is, while it’s difficult to hear when you playback your audio on your iPhone, wind gets magnified by a radio or TV station’s audio processing chain, and the listener hears a very distorted sound.

For 3 bucks, buy a regular microphone windscreen from Amazon.

Here’s the workaround:

Rather than standing outside to record your track or natural sound, sit in your car and open all or some of your windows.

Turn your head to the left (or right if you’re in England) and read out your window.

The car will block the wind, but will allow the natural sound in.

Let me know if you have any questions.