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LISTEN: Insights sneak into a conversation

Setting up a conversation, recording it, and editing the audio for a podcast has become so simple you can get the job done quickly - even on a smartphone if needed.
But that's just the technology -  the content is where it really starts.

Yesterday I recorded and posted a conversation with 2 of our researchers who received significant new funding in the Genome Canada 2017 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition. The new project "A comprehensive analytical toolkit and high-performance genome browser for rapid, reliable and in-depth characterization of bacterial genomes" is led by Paul Stothard at the University of Alberta, and Gary Van Domselaar at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
As with any good podcast they are the stars of the interview, and my role is to ask the questions the listener might ask and to listen to the guests. The interviewer should focus the interview questions but remain flexible enough to let the conversation go in unexpected directions.

This was the case in my conversation with the 2 researchers. They mentioned that 20 years ago when they were working together the computing power and resources were not available to do what they really envisioned, so I ended up asking them what they saw as the biggest changes in those 20 years.

It was also apparent in our chat that they shared a lot of ideas and somewhat spontaneously they ended up talking about when they first met in their Graduate Student days.

I first learned my broadcasting skills at the CBC when recording were made on magnetic audiotape and editing was done with a razor blade and special splicing tape to join segments together. It could be time consuming to get it right and tended to sharpen your ability to focus an interview, but there were and are still gems hidden in an interview that you don't want to leave on the 'cutting room floor' (literally, discarded tape ended up on the floor, sometimes followed by a frantic search when you realized you had dropped a piece of tape that you should have left in the final mix!).

The main purpose of the interview was to talk about their project and though the side conversation about changes over two decades and their past work was interesting it would have made the conversation much longer and lost the object of the exercise. With no need to dig out the razor and splicing tape, isolating the clips for another post was easy - too bad many podcasters have not figured that out yet.

LISTEN: Insights sneak into a conversation

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