Tech Savvy: Welcome to the DispatchCast

As a news junkie, I love podcasts. It's a natural extension of my affinity for public radio, which offers a variety of storytelling styles and appeals to my predilection for in-depth and offbeat stories. I can consume news, learn about interestin...


As a news junkie, I love podcasts.

It's a natural extension of my affinity for public radio, which offers a variety of storytelling styles and appeals to my predilection for in-depth and offbeat stories. I can consume news, learn about interesting books, hear the stories of refugee camps or teen bakers or towns with one resident-all while doing the dishes, walking my dog or driving somewhere. Writing is my passion, but listening to fantastically produced audio stories? That's right up there.

When Brainerd Dispatch advisory board members, consisting of community members offering their opinions and suggestions on Dispatch coverage, spoke of the potential for our own podcast, I knew it was a project I wanted to take on. I learned as much as I could about the process, the equipment, pitfalls to avoid and techniques to employ. We were fortunate enough to already have a studio and mixing board in our newsroom, left behind from a previous project by a sister publication. As a staff, we brainstormed ideas and searched for a focus.

Last month, the DispatchCast was born-our own offering in the podcast realm. On the podcast, we'll be able to share the stories that stick with us, probe interesting questions and just examine life in the lakes area-from the best banana/peanut butter/jalapeno burger experience to serving as the public watchdog for government affairs. On our best days we hope to shed some light on the human experience. On our worst days we hope to inform and connect residents with their communities. We also plan to pull back the curtain a bit on the inner workings of the Dispatch-giving an inside look at how the paper is made.

We have a good start so far, in my opinion. In the first episode, we reporters introduced ourselves and shared our hopes for the podcast. We explored the importance of community journalism and explained some of our editorial decisions with Matt Erickson, editor, and Renee Richardson, managing editor. We took a look back at staff writer Zach Kayser's 2015 interview with 95-year-old WWII veteran Ralph Yeager. Former Dispatch publisher Terry McCollough shared a few of his favorite Brainerd history stories he's come across while writing his "This Was Brainerd" history column. And in the episode we just released, staff writer Spenser Bickett visits seventh- and eighth-graders at Forestview Middle School to talk past and future technology with some of our future engineers and leaders.


So, what is a podcast exactly? Although podcasts are a frequent leisure activity of mine, I realize not everyone partakes or is even familiar with the medium. The simplest explanation of a podcast is, it's talk radio offered in a digital format, available when you're ready to listen to it. The name comes from its initial association with Apple's iPod mobile listening device, although it's now a generic term for any audio production offered on a number of digital platforms.

Chances are, you can find a podcast to listen to about almost anything you could imagine-and if you can't, maybe it's time you produce one yourself. I say that with the newfound boldness of someone who's produced a grand total of five episodes at this point, which it turns out has involved a bit of a learning curve.

But back to listening. Some podcasts involve two people chatting, while others undertake complex subject matter unraveling over years. One recent example of a podcast considered groundbreaking by those who follow the burgeoning industry is "S-Town," a podcast produced by the creators of "This American Life" and "Serial." Over the course of nine episodes, you come to know a man named John B. McLemore, a clockmaker from Alabama convinced a murder was committed in his town. If you plan to listen, do yourself a favor and don't Google it first. You're just going to have to trust me on that.

The popularity of podcasts is growing, and the opportunities to stumble upon something that sparks the imagination or teaches you something you never knew before are flourishing. As reported in the Business Insider, almost 20 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-49 listen to podcasts at least once a month. The increase in digital media consumption on mobile, as well as the increasing number of podcasts available, has made it far more attractive to both listeners and advertisers.

Now that I've hopefully got you good and curious, let me tell you how to find DispatchCast. Our podcast lives on a site called Podbean. Find us at, where you can listen either with the Podbean app or directly on the web.

If you use an iPhone, iPad or other Apple device, you can find our podcast in the iTunes store. Just search for "DispatchCast," and you'll see a list of individual "Podcast Episodes" and below that, a listing under "Podcasts." You can either play an episode individually from this list, or you can click on the podcast listing and subscribe to it. This way, whenever we add a new episode, you'll know without having to search for it.

For Android users, it's also available on Google Play Music. It should be the only listing under "Podcasts" you see when you search for it. Just as in the iTunes store, you can also subscribe to the podcast here or listen to individual episodes.

Another popular podcast site is called Stitcher, providing radio shows, live radio and podcasts from more than 65,000 sources, according to the website. The Stitcher app is available on either Android or iOS operating systems, and can also be played directly on the web.


Podcast Addict is the smartphone app I use to listen to podcasts. This app draws on the same feeds as those supplied to iTunes, so DispatchCast is also available here.

Still not sure how to find us? Drop us a line at , and we'll do our best to help. Also send us any story ideas, comments, constructive criticism or whatever you'd like concerning DispatchCast. We're all pretty new to this, so we'd love to do everything we can to improve and offer the best possible podcast we can to our readers (and listeners!).

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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