StephenK's blog

Good News

It is my pleasure to announce that the LISNews Netcast Network is finally offering pieces for licensing via Public Radio Exchange. This is a very unique opportunity for the crew. Public Radio Exchange ("PRX") is the main means by which we can offer content to National Public Radio affiliates for licensing. Others, such as a couple Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programs and Audible, are also set up to license through that system. What does this mean to the average LISNews user? Probably not a whole lot. You can go about your merry way and not worry about this, if you so choose. If you want to get LIS-related content out on NPR affiliates and others, this opens up a new avenue for you. If you want early paid access to some of the content we record, this opens up a new avenue for you. If you think that the Great Western Dragon/Faceless Historian should really be on the radio instead of restricted to just podcasts, this opens up a new avenue for you. Most content through the PRX is not available for free. This heavily relates to insuring that rights holders for music are in fact compensated for their toils as there is a deal worked out to bypass much of the bureaucratic nastiness found in music use outside PRX. In part it also ensures that content creators get fair compensation within the confines of the present copyright regime in the United States. This is the sort of deal that helps generate a revenue stream to allow parts of the network to cover equipment and telecommunications costs, for example. What can you do to make this happen? On the network's end, we've been increasing our visibility as of late. While that is a good thing itself, it is not a complete action. If you want us on the radio airwaves, you have to contact your local NPR stations to tell them. The program directors at the stations are the folks you want to talk to. Unless they feel there is any demand for programming in this area, all the efforts at raising visibility frankly are worth nothing. Most stations using PRX are found in the United States. Stations outside the United States can license content but have to set up as an outside licensor. That matter is for PRX to resolve, not us. You can find the LISNews Netcast Network profile online at: Creative Commons License

Good News by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

Talking Audio


In light of a glitch that happened late Sunday with TWiT 187, it is perhaps appropriate to talk about digital audio structuring.

There are three main sampling rates used with digital audio. Those rates are:

  • 11.025 kHz -- Wireline Telephone Quality
  • 22.050 kHz -- AM Radio Quality
  • 44.100 kHz -- Compact Disc Audio Quality
A typical sample rate that programs from Erie Looking Productions stick with is 44.1 kHz if file size caps permit. For the longest time such was not possible as the Drupal implementation LISNews ran on had a ten megabyte cap. At this point, the current Drupal implementation lets us get away with files up to twenty megabytes in size. Our sample rate and bit rate change every week as we try to optimize content to sound good within the cap we have to work with.

Something we try to avoid is using the 11.025 kHz sample. In most respects such sounds awful. It can be useful, though, if you have a sizable audience operating with lower than average bandwidth. Last night the folks at the TWiT Cottage mistakenly released in the main MP3 feed their low-resolution file encoded at the 11.025 kHz sample rate with a bit rate of only sixteen kilobits per second. Such works great if you have to be in the American Pacific on a slow link and still want content and have a high tolerance for distortion and digital artifacts.

At this point, there is no plan to release programs from Erie Looking Productions in such a low-bandwidth version. It does not seem that such will serve the audience well. If there is demand, such as getting a version of the program available under the ten megabyte cap iPhones cope with for over-the-air podcast downloads, then reconsideration may be possible.

Creative Commons License
Talking Audio by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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Made my first Kindle-based offering

Well, I wrote a new blog post over at the Erie Looking Productions blog talking about current operations. Such was also put on the Kindle platform at the price point of 99 cents. Hopefully such renders okay.

A separate item is not quite available yet.

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As Requested

In response to a request for some text from the podcast to be posted, this unedited originally prepared speaking text is posted for consideration. Please be advised that ad libs from the audio version are not reflected in the text blow.

Commentary – SMK

Where do I begin? First and foremost I want to thank Rod Wagner and Mike Foley for agreeing to appear on the program. I definitely wanted to hear both sides to a very unique case. Many lessons can be taken from this matter.

What lessons can be learned from this? That question deceptively sounds simple. There are many things to learn from this case.

This episode shows a clear and present danger to libraries. Libraries need not worry about community censors or evil “corporate” shills. The clear and present danger to libraries is the failure to communicate in an effective manner so that people outside the profession can understand.

As the auditor noted in his interview, he could care less about games in libraries. He cares when video appears on YouTube that appears to show state employees shovel-leaning on the state's time. While librarians may feel that nothing wrong was done by the librarians testing recently received equipment, public perception was not anticipated adequately. Without any disclaimer that the video was a promotional piece or what it was about, what could a reasonable taxpayer lacking any sort of context think?

The explanation we were given from the Nebraska Library Commission should have been out in the open before the auditor became involved. As for marketing an effort and explaining why tax dollars are going towards it, this could not in good conscience be called a good faith effort. This sort of corner cutting presents a tremendous danger in all libraries especially including ones that rely on voter-approved tax levies. In such libraries, any online expression like this would be institutional suicide during campaign season. While it might seem like an “inside baseball” matter of esoterica to staff involved, the use of social media tools normally results in it being public knowledge instead.

Librarians are masters of information, not the universe. Librarians cannot do it all. This incident highlights the importance of having a publicist or other public relations professional on-staff. They may not be librarians but their purpose is to help you navigate the world outside the library's walls. Most learn fairly quickly so they can integrate themselves into your organization and be able to represent you to the world outside.

Such a person should be an essential position in any library budget and they most certainly should not have the title of “librarian” regardless of any feelings of hyper-egalitarianism that may be possibly present. Media organizations understand what a publicist does but are utterly baffled when it comes to some of the more exotic librarian job titles that exist today. Hire a publicist, not an External Relations Librarian or worse.

Today's turbulent economic times are not going to be easy for libraries as they might have been previously. Taxpayers, the people who pay the bills that keep most libraries running, are scrutinizing expenditures in their own lives and by entities that act on their behalf. Whether librarians like it or not, the paradigm of acting like cloistered monks who are trusted without fail is no longer viable.

Get out there. Tell people what you are doing loud and clear with a minimum of jargon. Do not be discouraged if nobody seems to listen. Keep your clippings file up to date so, at a minimum, you can at least point out if questioned that you did attempt to keep the public informed. Interacting with the community around you in an appropriate way bringing credit to your institutions is the right way to go.

Please take a look at the YouTube channel of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. A local public relations professional in the Las Vegas Valley created it for the SNWA. Such is a good example of acting online appropriately.

Above all else, please do not listen to this episode passively but rather actively.

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Hate Speech?

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, a scholar focusing heavily on freedom of speech matters, posted an interesting matter to his group blog. The post is entitled "Hate Speech". I commend the post for the review and consideration of those interested.

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Quick Word

This will head out over e-mail and RSS. In the midst of shifting things over to the LISNews Netcast Network model, some things are slightly messy. Some things are also beyond my ability or access permissions to fix. Please bear with us in this faster than planned transition.

What is the LISNews Netcast Network? See:

Workshop thoughts

While cruising the 'net to find feeds to plug into LISFeeds, I came across something notable. If you knew about the US Department of Agriculture's Graduate School, you might know they have unique courses available. Not all relate to agricultural topics like alpaca husbandry. Some classes available include ones on Counter and Anti-Terrorism, Conversational Turkish I-III, Evolution, and more. One particular course caught my eye. The course description states:
Podcasting-offering audio content for download via the Internet-is a great way to offer non-visual material to a worldwide audience. This course presents the basic skills, equipment and knowledge you need to start creating your own Internet-based "radio show." As with many digitally-based media, access to the technology is inexpensive, but the difference between a tossed-together podcast and a polished show is like night and day. This class will help you get started toward an appealing, well-produced podcast.
This may sound similar to the matter discussed in the press release Boot Camp on Online Production for Librarians Announced. The costs are a little different. The USDA event takes place in DC and costs $215 per attendee. The event being put on by Erie Looking Productions in the Las Vegas Valley would cost $249 dollars. There are reasons for the cost difference. First and foremost, the USDA presenters get salaries from USDA. The presenters here don't so a small fraction goes towards covering that. Secondly, the $100 up-front deposit goes towards the purchase of food and the securing of space for the event as well as ensuring we have a working projector. If there was more than four dollars in the bank, putting deposits towards all that would not otherwise be necessary. Unfortunately, this is just economic reality for us right now. We are planning on ensuring attendees are fed a fabulous lunch, too. I bring all this up as the deadline to register for the event is coming up on February 9th. I do not handle the registrations directly. This was a deliberate step taken so that I could worry about putting together a ton of fabulous content rather than where money is going. The person handling the business side is Pam Munson. To get more details about the event and/or register, the easiest way to reach her is via e-mail with ELPEVENT on the subject line so that her spam filter doesn't kill your message. The key thing is to fire questions off to her and not me as she handles the business side while I am finalizing curriculum. I cannot offer CEU's like the USDA Graduate School. I have to have an established track record of offering programs first. Since this creates a lovely chicken and the egg situation, this results in folks having to take a chance. For hands-on instruction in working with tools that aren't taught in library school, the odds of a good time are better with us than in playing video slots. As we continue into Superbowl weekend, I put this before you. If you want to take a fun trip to Vegas that can count for business purposes, this is a great opportunity at a meteorologically pleasant time of year. The weather is beautiful in February and not nearly as oppressive as in the summer when that future ALA annual conference was planned for here. Valentine's weekend room rates are high but the weekend between Valentine's and the big NASCAR race on the north side of town results in pretty cheap hotel rates compared to summertime. What will you choose?


Things are a little crazy on this end in the Las Vegas metro. Around 7 PM Pacific tonight I'll potentially end up "going dark" online. With luck this shouldn't last more than 24 hours. Considering the way things go, it may well be anybody's guess. If you're wondering what might happen with LISTen please don't worry, I've already got that covered.

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Reflections upon an LJ story

It could be reasonably asked why this is in text when it could have been on the podcast. There are reasons for such. Unfortunately I cannot let loose with spoilers at this time.

Norman Oder reports at LJ online about Karen Calhoun speaking at ALA. I wish I could have been there. I do not relish the thought of asking on AUTOCAT how acrimonious the session was or was not.

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Financial thoughts

"God watches out for fools and little children," an old proverb states. Times are interesting for LISTen: The Podcast. The production engineer has been at risk since last Saturday of being unemployed. As of last Saturday he has been a "grey market" employee with no known direction as to his continued employment. Every day has been such that one of the first questions asked was: "Were your termination papers sent into processing today?" Jobs results yesterday put Nevada at 9.1% unemployment which for the measurement period year-on-year is 3.9% higher. The national average is 7.2%. The only places worse off than Nevada in terms of unemployment are South Carolina, Michigan, Rhode Island, and California. See: I've been working on the podcast full-time since the end of July 2008. We've had a variety of interesting guests. Landing guests is not a simple matter and takes time. A single day's turnaround is highly unusual. Taking up a whole week is more average. Spending a month pursuing an interview, such as the recent one with Felicia Day, happens from time to time. While it seems that only mediocrity is expected of the crew here, I try to exceed that expectation. My work has been subsidized at some cost to the production engineer, my father. LISTen apparently serves an audience. LISTen's audience is hard to quantify for an agency like PodTrac or Blubrry so that we could start pursuing advertising revenue. If anything, average American librarian behavior prevents that. Today on LISNews we saw that Reed Business Information has been consolidating operations fairly harshly. Layoffs are common in today's news. If anything, the crew here in Las Vegas has nowhere to go but up. Here are our minimum operating budget needs:
Item Monthly Annually Notes
Production Staff Compensation $3,485.00 $41,820.00 Includes compensation for both presenter and engineer
Broadband $75.00 $900.00 Monopoly provider locally
Other Telecommunications $40.00 $480.00 Cover cost of fallback systems
Outside Freelancer Compensation Pool $50.00 $600.00 Unused balance to carry-over month to month
Equipment Repair/Purchase/Evaluation Pool $75.00 $900.00 Unused balance to carry-over month to month
Shortwave Broadcast $75.00 $900.00 To be negotiated with WBCQ
Facilities Cost/Contingencies $1,200.00 $14,400.00 Contingency in case need arises to relocate production operations

Sub-total $5,000.00 $60,000.00
Tax Burden $1,500.00 $18,000.00 Currently estimated at 30% due to uncertainty in possible tax law changes

Total $6,500.00 $78,000.00
Now it may be best to explain further some of the line items. For the staff compensation line, you need to split that a minimum of two ways. If split evenly, that would result in USD$20,910 per year. That is hardly living high on the hog and would only be considered well-to-do in one place in the US: American Samoa. Such would only be a little over twice the average annual income there. If individuals who happened to not be family were engaged for engineering tasks, the overall staff compensation line would easiily balloon to a minimum of USD$80,000 per year with a more likely point of USD$100,000 with compensation being divided in an asymmetric fashion. This is the cheapest this line item would get, in case anybody was wondering. There is no broadband competition really in the Las Vegas Valley so that cost is fixed. Other telecommunications refers to the backup cell we use when broadband malfunctions. There is a need to commission freelancers in other realms to report on stories that we lack the ability to cover and, unfortunately, people will not do such original reporting for free. Equipment repair refers to the reality that things do break and while we can undertake repairs, we do not have funds to pay for replacement parts now. Shortwave broadcast is for a small low-tech expansion of program coverage that we want to start. The facilities cost/contingencies line refers to the possible need to outright lease space so that we have greater ease in recording compared to our cramped, ad hoc facility that doubles as a dwelling space. For us to qualify as a media entity, we cannot take money directly. If somebody wanted to contribute to costs so that we have a firm foundation and not have to worry about people's day jobs disappearing, send the money to Blake. Blake is effectively the fiscal agent for this. Consulting the details at might be worthwhile, I presume, for reaching Blake. This would allow for an appropriate paperwork chain that would indicate that the funds went for media purposes with all the intervening W-9 and 1099-MISC forms required. Don't ask me why, I don't write tax laws or the definitions of "media organization" in statutes. Not-for-profit entities always ask for money. I get letters from my religiously-affiliated undergraduate institution asking for money to keep going. A post like this is much like a Salvation Army bell-ringer or an American Red Cross funds appeal. To say a post like this is something different is intellectual dishonesty. We've tried to wage commerce instead of war by offering materials for sale that nobody has bought. We've tried to secure advertising but found that librarians are too flighty of a demographic for that to happen. We've sought sponsorship in the Las Vegas Valley and after five inquiries we've come up with nothing as they did not want to touch the demographic of librarians. All other avenues are exhausted and this is what we are left with relative to stabilizing the money side of production for the podcast.
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Why the MLS matters

In the news today, education professor Bill Ayers was turned away at the Canadian border. Professor Ayers noted that such seemed to be a violation of his academic freedom. While never tried and convicted in the United States for any Weather Underground related events, Canadian law cares not. Canada's counterpart to our USA PATRIOT Act can be somewhat more draconian and goes places that would scare Americans.

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And another thing...

I posted at the Erie Looking Productions site a quick post about why we cannot review Windows 7. This doesn't come from any animosity towards Microsoft. This comes instead from lacking the funds to procure sufficiently capable hardware to handle such. As things stand now, our test box is a Pentium 3 that would likely not handle the strain. The post there links to the overall operating budget to keep LISTen afloat. This is the same clickable button shown on the budget page:
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Something disturbing

It disturbs me that the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI return my calls/inquiries/e-mails quicker than the ALA's press office. I think I am still waiting for a reply on a question related to ALA Annual 2008.

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Good news

It is my pleasure to announce that the production audio engineer for LISTen, Michael J. Kellat, was re-elected tonight to the board of directors of the Guitar Society of Las Vegas for a one-year term. The next board of directors meeting will determine whether he remains an Events Director for the society.

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As to the Consumer Electronics Show & LISTen...

This is the post I never wanted to write. I have to be upfront though. I failed.

The Consumer Electronics Show is starting Wednesday. The crew is located in the Las Vegas Valley. For the various locations in Paradise Township that CES will be occurring at, we're just a thirty minute drive away.

The only thing stopping us from getting in is the lack of a media badge. Supposedly this is the easiest event to get a badge for. LISTen could not be badged for this one.

Thinking About Radio

Some thoughts were left at the Erie Looking Productions blog. Comments aren't possible there yet. I'm still working on integrating It was messy but I integrated Disqus with Nanoblogger so it is not like there is a switch that can be simply flipped on or off relative to allowing comments. [Updated at 1626 PST on 3 January 2009]
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Weather for the podcast team

My local weather conditions outside: Snow?  In Las Vegas? 5 Clicking on the picture will whisk you away to Flickr to see the full-size version.

Something uplifting

I like to read works by Mona Charen. Even though she writes theses days for National Review she still writes pieces that reach out to everybody. Her piece entitled Stampede Psychology is a very good read. With all the fear-mongering there is out there, it is an uplifting piece that asks you to count your many blessings.
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Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances

Let's talk about the editorial process in creating the podcast. This often may seem mysterious. Sometimes it may seem quite simple to where even a five year-old could manage it. In this brief note I turn my attention to a strange case. The podcast is released on a weekly schedule. Occasionally we interrupt that schedule for special releases but those are fairly infrequent. When the podcast goes up at 0500 UTC Monday, I am already having to plan out the next episode. Trying to stick to "current awareness" means we cannot normally stack up interviews weeks in advance. The podcast resembles an indy weekly newspaper in terms of operating method. There are times when stories blow up. We end up watching those. Sometimes those matters are like firecrackers where they shine brightly initially but burn out fairly quickly. Sometimes those matters endure. For the first case, we try to look for a librarianship angle that was not explored in mainstream reporting. For the second, we try to arrange an interview. This week started with my preparing to work the phones. Depending upon the situation, this can be quite normal. Interviews do not get arranged by themselves. With the crisis in the Parliament of Canada and the agitation for a coalition uniting the left to take power, there would conceivably be some sort of impact on Canadian libraries through a change at the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. As the Queen's viceroy in Canada, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, was out of the country it seemed as if escalation would just continue. One of the bones of contention in the crisis was the lack of an immediate economic stimulus package by the Harper ministry. Considering the integration of the economies of the United States and Canada, it is understandable that the Harper ministry did not put such forward. Since the first rebate checks were issued early in 2008, the economic stimulus measures put forward in the dying days of the Bush administration have had little effect. With the Canadian budget originally proposed to be put before Parliament after the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, a conscious decision seems to have been made to wait and see. With the return of Governor General Michaëlle Jean to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had an audience. A prorogation was secured which concluded the current parliamentary session and otherwise stopped the transaction of parliamentary business. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the second session of this current Parliament will kick off on January 24, 2009. Until at least then, James Moore will remain Minister of Canadian Heritage. The need to immediately seek comment from all the political parties concerned is lessened. Daily program releases rarely give time to assess what is happening. Weekly program releases require care to ensure that programs are still current and responsive. With some of the strange occurrences at this most stressful time of the year, being able to commission stringers abroad can make these sorts of cases easier to handle and have reports on even as events change rapidly. Until such commissioning is possible, things remain tricky. Creative Commons License
Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

LISTen Plan for 2009

With the collapse of Pownce through acquisition of its assets by SixApart, it is fairly reasonable to ask what is looming of a new media outlet. There are some areas through which the podcast operation wishes to expand in 2009. While these may sound like huge leaps, they are instead fairly timid when assessed against the broader realm of new media outside librarianship. First and foremost, I want to expand coverage. Only a very brief glance at the world can happen from my perch in Las Vegas. In a time when technology means so much to so many, having boots on the ground can sometimes be far more effective. A goal in 2009 is to commission freelance works from English-speaking nations other than the United States so as to promote the sharing of perspectives. Secondly, I want to expand reach. Not that many years ago there was a notion of a “digital divide”. In terms of podcasting, there still is perhaps not enough market penetration to call it a mass medium. For around a thousand dollars time can be brokered on a shortwave radio station to provide further access to program content for an entire year. With decent shortwave radios these days running between USD$50 to USD$100, this would be an option with far less overhead than that incurred in downloading a podcast. This goal in 2009 would be to secure access to a weekly time slot on a suitable shortwave broadcast station to ensure that both sides of the digital divide are potentially served. While these goals are interesting in and of themselves, there is one aspect missing. That missing link is funding. One of the biggest costs in a media outfit is manpower hours. To produce some of the content heard lately requires full-time work. Navigating the realm of public relations officers is not something that moves quickly and can sometimes involve days of work. While there are things like Google News already out there, that only serves to point at stories already told. Technology has not gotten to the point where we can completely separate human involvement from storytelling. North of Las Vegas one finds Creech Air Force Base where the operators of the Predator drones work every day. While the drones are great for demolishing targets, they aren't so great for talking to people in investigation. If they were, the United States would not have a need for agencies like the CIA and others. This is not a request for dollars. No, that was sent out to fifty very particular prospects. No, that letter with enclosed budget figures was not over my signature but someone else's. All this post happens to be is my taking a moment to communicate. Communication is a key thing that under-girds librarianship. Interlibrary loan could not operate without it. During a media realignment such as what we currently experience and considering the role of planetary economic woes as an accelerant, now is a fabulous time to build up something while cultivating as strong a base as possible. If that means we have to schedule a LISTen meet-up in Las Vegas, then that can definitely be considered and potentially forged into a plan for a cooler part of 2009. While Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis said on Twitter that the challenge in 2009 was to survive, I want to strive to do more than just survive.

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LISTen Plan for 2009 by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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