Why Would You Podcast?

by Laurel Sindewald and Anne Giles

If Charles Dickens were alive today, this pioneer of the “serial publication of narrative fiction” would be podcasting and we’d be waiting to listen to each installment of his story like we do for the next Harry Potter book.

Anne recording a podcast episode

The Oxford Dictionary tells us “podcast” is a blend of “iPod” + “broadcast.” It’s a “digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

Why would you podcast?

Because you’ve got a story to tell and you can tell it with your own voice.

BBC’s podcast, The Forum, published an episode just last year titled The Power of the Human Voice, discussing and demonstrating the influence of the human voice in communication and identification. In this episode, The Forum interviews three guests. Peter French, a professor and an internationally recognized expert in voice and acoustic forensics, speaks to the qualities and components of voices that can be isolated to track down and identify criminals. He also agrees with Anna Devin, an opera singer who shares how the human voice provides a spiritual connection, an almost primal, emotional connection in a way that is not yet measurable, and therefore unstudied by science. Diana Deutsch, their third guest, speaks to the importance of intonation in public speakers, and that intonation alone can affect an audience just as much as the content.

As a listener, I was struck by how personal their accounts felt, and marveled that the format of their conversation felt far more interesting, inclusive, and engaging than it would have had I merely read their interview. In interviewing Peter French, Anna Devin, and Diana Deutsch in a podcast, The Forum demonstrated the power of the human voice even as they discussed the topic. Podcasts have taught me that I would rather listen, in many cases, than read.

In fact, many people learn best by listening, and these people will be more likely to remember your message if you deliver your content as recorded audio. Other people struggle to see, with either full or partial blindness, and these members of your audience may appreciate audio content even more.

Podcasts also extend your reach by making your content accessible to people who are too busy to sit down and read. Podcasts and audiobooks are gaining in popularity, because they leave their audience free to drive, exercise, or do chores while listening.

Podcasts, like other forms of content marketing, allow you to build rapport with your target market as a company or professional who provides value, even before people buy in as customers. Unlike other forms of online marketing, podcasts allow you to reach your market even after they leave their online devices behind. Listeners will often download podcast episodes to listen to later, on iPods or other mobile devices.

Who can podcast?

  • Authors of self-published books whose readers want to hear the author’s passion for the subject
  • Busy experts who don’t have enough time to speak with all the people who want to talk with them
  • Motivational and inspirational speakers
  • People who can voice opinions
  • Comedians and funny joke tellers
  • Singers and musicians
  • Poets and short story writers
  • Storytellers, and people who would like to preserve family stories for other family members
  • Political, business, and community leaders

Anyone with a message, in other words, can podcast that message to the world.

So People Can Hear, Too


Anne recording a podcast episodeThat’s me in the photo! I’m recording my very first episode for my own podcast channel!

Honestly, I was reluctant at first. How would I have time to both create episodes for a podcast show and co-launch podcast services in our locale with Laurel Sindewald, Handshake Media’s podcast producer? Sure, I could write the talk – I wrote how to prepare to podcast myself – but who had time to record the talk?!

Laurel said people need to be able to hear what I have to say, not just read it.

Look at her face.

I said okay.

I dragged my feet. The task seemed too huge. Laurel broke it down for me. I said, I don’t know what to say. Laurel said, looky, here’s what makes a good podcast. I read her list casually, then intently. I thought, oh, I could do that. And I’ve got that…

I sequestered myself with our recording device over the weekend. I did nothing. I finally tried early Monday morning but couldn’t remember how the buttons worked. I posted an update in our project management software, Basecamp, whining that it was just too hard for me.

Laurel sent an update back (I have her permission to share): Would you like to try doing your podcast recording together? We could feel our way forward on podcast content one bit at a time, recording together and working together on what you might want to say. Perhaps dialogue is an easy way for you to hit upon your truths.

I got tears in my eyes.

We co-created how we’ll price creating podcast channels and the list of needed items for creating a podcast channel. I provided these to Laurel then she she sent me very own podcast URL:


I felt thrilled!

The photo of me in this post is taken by Laurel as she listened to me record my very first podcast episode.

I think I am not alone in needing help to get started with a podcast. When I’m alone, I don’t talk to myself or to my cats. I contentedly observe silence. But when I’m with others, I readily talk and listen.

To start a podcast, I needed help with the technology, a listener for my talking, and an audience for my show. Laurel was stellar at all three.

And now what I have to say can be both read and heard.

. . . . .

If you live in the New River Valley of Virginia and my experience appeals to you, get in touch with me, Anne, [email protected], 540-808-6334. We’ll help you start your own podcast channel so you can be heard, too.

. . . . .

I wrote about getting “podcaster’s block” and more of my personal experience on starting a podcast channel in What I Learned About Myself from Creating a Podcast at annegiles.com.

. . . . .

In this episode from my podcast channel, I am reading the preface to Phoenix Rising. My plan is to release the book by chapter in a series of podcast episodes, then compile the entire recording into a single audiobook.

This episode was edited and mastered by Laurel Sindewald and produced by Handshake Media, Incorporated.

Invitation to Take Our Podcast Survey

Handshake Media has been in the publishing business since 2008 – blogs, books, and, most recently, mobile applications. We’re excited to expand to publishing podcasts and would welcome your feedback and guidance as we move forward!

If you would please take this quick survey for us, that would be fantastic!

Sarah Beth Jones

A podcast is a way you can tell your story in your voice to reach your
audience and target market. It’s your show. Listeners can hear you anytime, anywhere, on a mobile device or computer.

Many people want to do podcasts. But they don’t have the equipment,
tech savvy, and editing skills to make it happen quickly, even at all.
We do.

Here’s an example of how your podcast might be featured on our
site. You can also embed the podcast on your website or blog. Thank
you, empowerment coach Sarah Beth Jones, for helping us create our first demo!

Note the quality of Sarah Beth’s recording – with an audience present! We have top equipment and Handshake Media’s Laurel Sindewald is a musician and professional soundtrack editor.

If you care to offer suggestions as comments on this post, those would be welcomed.

Thanks for helping us explore how to best meet your needs with our new podcast production services!

With appreciation,

App Contest Provides Guide to Medication-Assisted Treatment

In her post What the Opioid Epidemic Means in Virginia, Handshake Media’s Executive Director Laurel Sindewald writes, “Latest science informs us that the best approach to treating opioid substance use disorders is medication-assisted therapy. Suboxone and methadone keep people stable enough in recovery to live more normal lives. People with substance use disorders are more than twice as likely to stay in treatment and not relapse if they are receiving medication than if they are not.”Smartphone apps help with recoveryAs we do research to prepare to develop an updated release of our free addictions recovery smartphone app, New2Recovery, I was fascinated to read the clear definitions and terms used in this opioid addictions recovery mobile app development contest from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. Those who suffer from a substance use disorder need help to change their behavior and learn new strategies to maintain health. They can get this help with treatment – with the care of doctors and substance use disorders treatment providers. Treatment can help people stop using substances. It helps them get through withdrawal and cope with cravings. Treatment also helps address other harmful behaviors that are not conducive to recovery.

Just as important, treatment helps people address life issues they might have that can trigger relapse, such as feelings of low self-worth, a bad situation at work or home, a co-occurring mental disorder, or spending time with people who use drugs. In short, treatment helps people move into healthy lifestyles – into a new way of living which is referred to as recovery.

Treatment may include medication. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is treatment that includes the use of medication along with counseling and other types of support. Treatment that includes medication-assisted treatment is an important option for opioid use disorder. Medication-assisted treatment can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving. Research also shows maintenance treatment typically leads to reduction or cessation of illicit opioid use and its adverse consequences, including cellulitis, hepatitis, and HIV infection from use of nonsterile injection equipment, as well as criminal behavior associated with obtaining drugs. These changes can give the person the chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living. People in outpatient MAT could benefit from a mobile app for smartphones that provides features and information that supports their maintenance in recovery.


Insight 1. Patients receiving Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) need information about possible side effects and drug interactions in a format that is easy to understand and access.

Required Features:

The app must provide information on common side effects that patients receiving Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone treatment experience, how to deal with side effects, and when they are expected to subside.

The app must include information on drug interactions with Buprenorphine, Methadone, and Naltrexone.

The app must provide information on the potential adverse effects of combining Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone with Benzodiazepines , Benzodiazepine Analogs or Barbiturates. These side effects include, but are not limited to, decrease in breathing ability and blood pressure as well as death.

Insight 2. Patients receiving MAT need education and psychoeducational materials for opioid recovery support, e.g., time management, parenting skills, effects of drug use on family, etc.

Required Features:

The app must provide educational tools and materials including broad and general resources, especially resources that encourage users to discuss content with a recovery coach or clinician, including the resources in the Asset File.

Insight 3. Individuals in MAT need support to reduce risk for relapse, e.g., increase participation in healthy activities, and avoid people, places and things that might trigger drug use.

Required Features:

Meeting Location Finder: The app must provide opportunities for users to find mutual aid meetings and peer support groups.

Insight 4. Individuals in MAT need support in relapse prevention such as warning signs, trigger alerts, and motivations for recovery.

Insight 5. Individuals in MAT maintenance are often juggling their work, personal, and treatment schedules.

– Excerpted from SAMHSA’s Opioid Recovery App Challenge, submission deadline 5/28/16

I share this because the writers of the app contest have inadvertently created a lovely, concise, simply-worded description of what addiction is, what medication-assisted therapy is, what challenges people need help with, and straightforward guidelines for recovery.

Anne Giles is President of Handshake Media, Incorporated, publishers of the free addictions recovery smartphone app, New2Recovery.

A New Vision for Handshake Media

On December 5, 2012, my intention as a presenter at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. was to outline best practices in mobile health entrepreneurship.

I thought I knew of what I spoke. I’ve been working online since 1996. My father’s only requirement for my undergraduate education was that I take FORTRAN in 1978, setting me up for decades of skillful if-then thinking. I can’t remember Jay’s last name but when he taught me HTML in 1996, he ignited passion in me for lines of code and what they can display on screens.

Awareness gives me a chance to change

The mHealth Summit presentation was based on extensive trial-and-error learning about mobile application development. With Alex Edelman, then with Jim Schweitzer, and with the help of other developers, we had released our own portfolio of mobile applications and our behavioral health software platform Cognichoice. (Here’s our press release about the mHealth presentation on PRWeb.)

We explored the mobile app development business model (how do we pay for software development costs when users want their apps for free?!) , disclosed transparently how much a mobile app really costs to develop, including sharing the numbers for one of our own apps, and revealed the extensively detailed work that goes into creating a mobile app before the first line of code is written. We did our market research on health apps and found enormous competition.

We believed powerfully in our software and plowed determinedly ahead.

But here’s the rub for health apps. Health apps aren’t asked to just be useful or helpful.

“Does it work?”

“Does it do no harm?”

The medical profession and the health care industry demand definitive answers to those questions before they’ll recommend a product or service to patients or customers. The gold standard for a definitive answer in health care is a randomized control trial, or RCT.

We were able to collaborate with a health care entity to attempt a lesser standard – a pilot study – with our software. The entire process is confidential so I wrote with circumspection about the steps required to do health app research here.

Whether you think your health app is a treatment or not, the health care industry thinks an app is a treatment and it will require you to conduct research to prove that your app works and does no harm. An mHealth developer needs to know that research takes time and costs time which is antithetical to the lean startup model and burns most startups’ thin capital like tissue paper.
– Anne Giles, mHealth Zone Live interview, May 2, 2013

. . . . .

The night before my presentation at the mHealth Summit, the most important thing for me to do was not review my notes, not arrange my business suit on a chair for the next day, not start to unwind to prepare for a good night’s sleep. What was most important for me to do was get glasses of wine. Not a glass. Glasses. No mind that at the convention center bar cabernet sauvignon cost $15 per glass.

Twenty-three days later, on December 28, 2012, I got sober.

. . . . .

Terrified by the stigma surrounding addiction, I didn’t tell anyone, including my business partners. Sick from going without alcohol, I still attempted to lead a crowdfunding campaign to further develop Cognichoice, agreed to between the end of the mHealth Summit and my sobriety date. I wrote of my growing  unease about the process two weeks in.

Missing from the rah-rah about contributions-based crowdfunding is the news that a percentage of the funding received will pay taxes. In my mind, my for-profit startup is a cause, but cause or not, people buy products and services from for-profit companies. If it’s not from investors, what is the term for money given to a for-profit company? A contribution? A donation? I have attorney Ken Maready’s permission to quote his answer: “Whether you call it a contribution or a donation, the IRS is going to call it revenue.”
– Anne Giles, Lessons Learned from Two Weeks of Crowdfunding, January 30, 2013

I was so grateful to the sweet people who contributed! However, I wrote about bitter lessons learned a month after the campaign ended. (My adamant advice to startups about crowdfunding? Don’t.)

. . . . .

By the time I presented at the Virginia Counselors Association Convention on November 8, 2013, our mHealth entrepreneurship could be summarized in one word: failure. The audio recording at the mHealth Summit didn’t work so no one other than the hundred or so in attendance heard it. Our crowdfunding campaign failed (we netted about $3K, $97K short of the standard $100K needed to fund serious app development). Our pilot study failed. (I can’t say more than an insufficient number of participants were enrolled to even test if the app “worked,” i.e. resulted in measurable, positive outcomes.)

For the Virginia Counselors Association Convention, I prepared so thoroughly to lead a round table discussion on mobile health technology for mental illnesses.

One person attended.

Quit, right?! Just quit! Too much uphill battling, too much failure!

. . . . .

I cried most of my first year of sobriety. I finally told my business partners and received their kind and full support. Resigning myself to the shame of alcoholism, I had banned myself from writing about my struggles so, when my mind could work, I pondered mobile health app research and by early December of 2013, I had worked out the beginnings of a way to use the fundamentals of our software platform, Cognichoice, in a simple mobile application to help people like I am, people who struggle with addiction, and need 24-7 help to not drink or use.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of Alex and Jim, in an unprecedented one-month-from-idea-to-product, we were able to release our free addictions recovery mobile application,  New2Recovery, on January 6, 2014. (Here’s the New2Recovery press release on PRWeb.)

I was 1 year and 8 days sober.

Drinking and using is one kind of hell. Abstinence is another. I sobbed most of the way through the development of New2Recovery and remain in awe of Alex’s and Jim’s patience with me and belief in the project. Years 2 and 3 were intermittently anguish-filled and I pretty much withdrew from society and from business, although I did share publicly on April 28, 2014, that I was in recovery from alcohol abuse disorder. I’ve only started recently to feel better for longer periods of time.

For 23 years, I lived in Tampa, Florida, home of an average of 246 days of sunshine per year. That bounty of bright days was like my creativity prior to beginning to drink in 2006. After 6 years of drinking and 3 years of abstinence, for me, feeling better in recovery from alcohol use disorder is like lightning bugs on a summer night. I feel tiny bursts of inspiration.

One of those bursts is to relaunch Handshake Media, Incorporated, founded in 2008, but with very little activity from 2013-2015. For the rebirth of Handshake Media in 2016, I hired Laurel Sindewald as Executive Director on January 1 and we’re exploring possibilities with delightful synergy.

Another of those bright bursts gives me longing to issue an updated release of New2Recovery. We have generous, specific feedback from users about what they’d like. We still haven’t figured out how to make money from mobile apps, but there’s just enough in the business account to cover a few enhancements.

I’m moved to new tears that our original New2Recovery team members – Alex Edelman and Jim Schweitzer – are willing to consider the project again more than 2 years after the original release, and that they will be joined by Laurel Sindewald.

So, no, I’m not quitting – not at sobriety, not at life, not at business. I also have no inspirational, meme-worthy adages to offer. This has been quite a thing.

Awareness gives us a chance to change. We’re becoming aware of opportunities for Handshake Media, Incorporated and its new vision is evolving. Here’s what we’ve got going so far:

For their support and patience, we thank our past and current clients, and friends and fans of Handshake Media’s 8-year effort to become a useful and profitable company, and welcome suggestions and guidance as we begin anew in 2016.

With gratitude,

Anne Giles, M.A., M.S.
Handshake Media, Incorporated
Since 2008

. . . . .

If you’re interested, my presentation for the mHealth Summit 2012 was entitled “The Entrepreneurial Clinician: What Clinicians with Great Ideas for Health Care Mobile Apps Need to Know” and I was one of about half a dozen panelists in a session entitled “What Goes into Making an Extraordinary mHealth App?” Since the audio recording setup didn’t work during my presentation, I came home and recorded my slide presentation in this YouTube video.