Why I love Cap'n Crunch
by VT Cog

I have never forgotten it.

 

A 45 second unprecedented outburst of explosive anger. The front door closed behind him; the autumn wind blowing into the kitchen as we sat and ate our dinner. His hat, overcoat, and galoshes still on as the tyrannical tirade began. No more cereal! No more of this sugar sweetened crap. I just got the dentist's bill. You all have cavities!

I had a casual interest in where this was going. My father often proclaimed diktats that were usually ignored after a week or two once the original source of the furor died down. This one was different; it involved money, and money was an emerging source of interest to me since I was scheming up ways to save for a mini bike.

There’s no question breakfast cereals from the ’60s were sugar sweetened nightmares. Sure, you got carbs and vitamins, and don’t forget niacin - so often touted yet such a mystery. But I'm guessing that seductive mixture of sugar, carbs, and milk caused an explosion in health benefits claims that was unprecedented in history. Parents were wholly unprepared and overwhelmed.

In an age where employment benefits are the holy grail, this is hard to reconcile. In our time, we have seen this inducement evolve from being reduced and more expensive, if available at all, to lavish and unlimited. Just ask our kids about plans they now enjoy. I mean, they can buy a bicycle and claim the expense under a fitness catch all. Safe to say, it wasn’t until I was much older that I fully understood the economic considerations that were in play that day long ago. My father was absolutely right.

Changes around the house lasted a good couple of months. Strangely, my mother substituted “Sugar Crisp” for Cap’n Crunch. I guess the picture of puffed wheat with the seed husk in the middle was reassuring. It was probably just as bad, if not worse, with all that sugary glaze coating those lovely little pillows of wheat.

It all came and went but I learned some important things along the way. By the time I was 14 I discovered that you could put half a box of Cap’n Crunch in a salad bowl, fill it with milk, and 10 minutes later it was still crunchy good. I also learned what the term “forbidden fruit" really meant. I’m guessing my father would agree that maybe it was worth a cavity or two.

So you wanna be a podcaster
by Paul Gatt

It seems like everywhere you look there’s a podcast for anything and everything. 

Podcasting is like listening to hand-picked content on a radio station just for you. It’s the mixed-tape cassette to the vinyl back in the 70s. 

As a radio remote engineer for a talk radio station in a major North American market, I’ve seen the transition of podcasting from a specialized add-on to packaged versions of a radio station's show for use on the station’s website, and finally to a niche genre that anyone can record and everyone can listen to. 

Along the way I've often joked that whenever an on-air host has the misfortune of getting booted from one of the corporate empires,  a call almost certainly follows . It’s always the same question, “How do I do a podcast?”  

In the radio business, the big stations need  50-thousand-watt antenna. That all changes with podcasting. It simply requires a laptop, the proper interface, a microphone headset, some good content and the gift of the gab.

Here are the technical basics. I call it my podcast setup 101. There is no right or wrong way and there are plenty of options depending on your budget and what you want to do but it all starts with a reliable computer.

MIXER

If you’re serious about doing this and have a budget over a thousand dollars, I recommend a Rodecaster Pro mixer (approximately $800).  Add on a mic or multiple mics, headphones, cable and some interfacing cable and the Rodecaster Pro does it all for you.

 

You can record your show directly onto a micro SD card, and simply import the audio to your laptop, then edit using your favourite software. Adobe Editing, or some other paid service will add to the cost but there are also free services available such as Audacity or Twisted Wave.

 

The Rodecaster Pro has a great Bluetooth option for Zoom calls from your phone or tablet or choose a regular phone call. It really is as simple as plug and play. If that’s more than your budget and you don’t need multiple mics, or you want to be solo at the home studio and have guests on Zoom or any other equivalent service, then a Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 mixer interface (approximately $80) will do the trick.  Plug and play to your mic and headset to get the broadcast quality sound you want for the podcast.

MICROPHONE

Depending on your preferences, there are plenty of options. A dynamic mic like the Sennheiser 835 or Shure SM58 (approximately $130) provides good sound. Shure has come out with a nice podcast mic, the MV7 for about $300.

Once you’ve figured out the recording, the audio needs to be edited, packaged (music intros and sponsors added if necessary) and sent to the hosting server so it can stream to the various platforms.  If you can do this yourself, great! If you’re just the content expert, then you’ll need to enlist the help of a producer or techy friend who can help you put out the finished product.

CONTENT

These are the basics of your podcast - it should be fun for you and interesting for others.  Podcasting has come full circle. While it used to be an alternative to radio, now radio stations are filling the airwaves, particularly during evenings and weekends with some intriguing podcasts. Just like the cassette tape and vinyl, there’s room for both.

If you’d like more information and help getting started, send me an email gattbroadcastservices@gmail.com

We can make a difference
by Susan Hudson

The climate is changing, there is no denial.  It's no longer a question but a fact that our world is about to pull the irrevocable clause.  Human activity is at the burning heart of the matter according to a major UN report released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Scientists from around the world critically reviewed clinical studies since 2013 and concluded that it is a fact that human activity is responsible for warming the earth. 

This is a job for Stakers if there ever was one!  We remember a world where love was all you needed but we're older and wiser and still have a lot of living to do. What kind of a world will our grandchildren inherit when they come of age in the year 2040?  We just need to commit to consciously making changes together. 

 

Here are six simple but bold actions you can act on right now:

  1. Waste no food or water – buy only what you need and take time to plan meals so that all the food you buy gets used.  Canadians waste more food than they consume. Skip the bottled water and commit to a household food policy of ‘use it or lose it’;

  2. Unplug – simply unplugging household electric devices that are not being used can add up to the output of 50 power plants in a year.  Fully charged electronics continue to draw from the grid and create what’s referred to as an ‘idle load’.  Easy fix to power down what you’re not using;

  3. Getting around – take a moment to plan whether you can walk or ride a bike to do that errand instead of taking the car.  Replacing our dependence on large vehicles that use up precious fossil fuels should be a no brainer.  True, none of us have taken an unnecessary airplane trip this past year but let’s  work out now how we'll get around with a lighter footprint;

  4. Plant a tree –  Once you start it can become a family project and a great gift idea to pass on. Trees consistently clock in as climate change fighting powerhouses. They clean the air, absorb carbon, protect endangered species and stabilize the soil. There are many online agencies you can pay to do this if you’re not crazy about actually getting your hands dirty;

  5. Buy less stuff – if this past year has taught us anything, it's that we can definitely get by consuming less. We save time, we save money, we reduce trucks on the road, we reduce trips to the mall, we reduce packaging waste among many wins.  Make ‘do I really need that?’ the question that replaces those former impulse buys; 

  6. Talk it up – keep the conversation going.  Let your friends, co-workers, representatives, and family know that this is important to you and important to us all to act now.

 

The time is now. The stakes are just too high to put this off any longer.