OurSQL, Time and Commitment

Producing a podcast takes a lot of time. The first 26 episodes of OurSQL: The MySQL Database Community Podcast were produced solely by me, but the podcasts were not regularly recurring. Those 26 episodes occurred over a period of 2 years and 3 months, which is less than one episode per month. Doing it all myself took a lot of time. I loved podcasting, and still do, but I could not do it all myself.

I thought long and hard during a 22-month hiatus. For almost 2 years, I reconciled my love for podcasting with the insane amount of work that doing a podcast solo took. I realized that what I wanted was:

– a co-host to keep me accountable. Too often I would set out with good intentions of “today I will podcast” that produced nothing because I did not prioritize doing the podcast.

– an audio engineer to do the post-processing. Post-processing was, for me, a very nitpicky process, and I would fiddle with the audio for hours to get the sentences to sound OK. And I did not enjoy the process. Which means I needed money, to hire an audio engineer.

The planets aligned and in November 2010 I caught the attention of some folks at the Oracle Technology Network, after I fiercely shot down some myths about a controversial issue (so much so that twitter blocked me for a while because I tweeted so much, responding to the controversy posted by too many folks). After the controversy died down, Justin Kestelyn called to thank me and said, “If there’s anything we can help you with, let us know.”

And I said, “Well, actually, there is this one thing….”. Justin secured the funding for an audio engineer, and by mid-December, I had found a co-host (the wonderful Sarah Novotny) and an audio engineer (the amazing Rich Goyette). The podcast was up and running again. Since December 16, 2010, we have produced weekly episodes, with a week off here and there, but no more long pauses between podcasts.

Even with all this assistance, it still takes a lot of time to produce a podcast. Usually I spend 3 hours research and writing for each podcast, plus another 1.5 to 2 hours to record the podcast and another 45-60 minutes to listen to the finished podcast, write up and publish the show notes, and promote the new episode on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. That’s 5-6 hours per week. Some episodes are interviews, which usually take a little longer to record, but less time to research. So let’s say, on average, I spend 4 hours per week doing a podcast, consistently, since December 2010.

This year, the podcast hit two milestones, only one of which was planned. In April, we won a MySQL Community Award, and in July, we hit our 100th episode (episode 99) and episode 100, which we celebrated by interviewing Randall Munroe of XKCD.

Winning the Community Award was extremely moving for me. I had been upset with myself for a while, because there were a few personal goals I had not prioritized (and thus had not met), and I felt that reflected that I was bad at making a commitment to meet those goals. When we won the Community Award, I realized that I had not prioritized some personal goals, but I certainly committed my time well and doing a lot that helped others.

Reaching the 100th episode milestone did not seem like a big deal, until we won the community award. Even with all the help I have sought out and been given, each episode represents several hours of my time. Having produced 100 episodes means having put in several hundred hours of my time. That’s a LOT of time. So it is no surprise that I have not been able to meet all of my personal goals. 4 hours a week, consistently, is a huge commitment, and one that I am proud of.

It has been a rocky road for the podcast, but with the help of the Oracle Technology Network, Sarah Novotny, Gerry Narvaja and Rich Goyette, I feel like the podcast is an institution now – if I had to stop podcasting for some reason, it would continue on without me. Feeling that I have left a legacy that helps folks learn about databases is an amazing feeling.

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