Talkshoe.com is an online web service that enables anyone to easily create, join, or listen to Live Interactive Discussions, Conversations, Podcasts and Audioblogs. The service has been around since 2005 and since then, has continued to make it as easy as possible for users to create their own podcasts. Membership to Talkshoe is free. Besides being free, what else do they have to offer?
The Host Page:
Although there are many other podcasting services around that provide similar functionality as Talkshoe, I have yet to leave the service based on a number of circumstances. For starters, show hosts can schedule episodes at any time they’d like. There are no specific time blocks which limit when you can produce a show. Talkshoe gives hosts the ability to manage an email list that is used to invite people to your show as it is scheduled. You can either maintain your own mailing list or direct Talkshoe members to click on the FOLLOW button that is registered to your show. This will automatically place them on the INVITATION list. Anytime you schedule an episode, an email will be sent out to these people providing the necessary information regarding the next episode.
Each host on Talkshoe receives their own dedicate show page. This page highlights a countdown to when the next episode will air, a media player for specific episodes that can be embedded into blog posts, various subscription options, and a list of scheduled episodes on top of a list of past episodes. This page also gives listeners a chance to review and then comment on your show.
Unfortunately, show hosts can not manage the FOLLOW LIST. If someone on the follow list ends up changing their email account or fails to remove themselves from the list, sending out invitations can result in bounce back messages polluting your inbox. This issue has been brought up to Talkshoe in the past but has yet to be corrected.
Maybe you’re not too keen on the audio quality Talkshoe provides but you are content with their distribution system. The good news is, you can upload MP3’s to Talkshoe which will take the place of your recorded show. This means you can use Talkshoe as a distribution channel while staying in charge of the podcast audio quality.
Talkshoe provides a myriad of ways in which people can interact with shows. The first method is similar to AM Talk Radio where listeners can call into the show via SkypeOut or a landline/cellphone. Talkshoe provides one central number to call but provides each show host with their own unique call ID. The call ID is used to differentiate the large number of shows being hosted on Talkshoe. Users can opt to configure a SIP Client as well such as Project Gizmo or my favorite, X-Lite. This allows me to call into Talkshoe with my PC similar to using SkypeOut, but for free. The last way of interacting with the show is through two different clients that Talkshoe provides.
There is the Talkshoe Pro client which requires installation on an end users system while the web client can be executed through a browser window. The pro client contains features that the web client does not such as color coded conversations, easier show administration, and more. However, the web client is fast to load and provides an IRC like chat interface. Those who are brand new to Talkshoe hate the fact that the chat in the Pro Client scrolls from right to left. However, after getting used to it, people begin to see why it’s setup that way.
The major difference between the web and pro clients is that the pro client has a built in SIP client called ShoePhone. However, anytime I have listened to someone call into a show using this SIP client, they have sounded terrible. It sounds as if the caller is speaking through a fan. Based on what I have heard through the grapevine, Talkshoe is going to be reworking the Shoephone from the ground up. Almost anything you can think of would be better than using the Shoephone, even tin cans and string.
As show host, you contain access to some options that no one else does. Show hosts are not able to join their room until 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Once you are allowed in the room, hosts are then able to click on a START button which will initiate the recording. Keep in mind that Talkshoe does not automatically start a recording, this is a manual process. Show hosts contain the ability to mute a persons audio while also being able to block someone from chatting in the room. Talkshoe does not contain the ability to ban users from entering a specific room. So although you can block their chat, and their voice, they can still sit in the room and listen to the show but I can only imagine how boring that must be.
When hosts are done recording a show, they can press the STOP button which will stop the recording but not terminate the call. This is great because after the recording stops, you can keep the show open for an after show where people can still call in and congregate. Only after you hit the TERMINATE button will the show and the room be terminated. Termination will hang up any caller that may still be on the line. You can still chat in the room however.
While I am a big fan of Talkshoe, not everything is as great as it seems. For instance, Talkshoe has been known to suffer major outages from time to time thanks to power outages and other mishaps at their data centers. This can screw things up if your show happens to be scheduled during the same time Talkshoe goes offline. I must admit though, Talkshoe did a good job of getting things back up to speed in no time flat. Also worthy of note is that Talkshoe supports anonymous callers. A great idea at face value until you realize that there is no call screener. I’ve participated in a number of shows which have had a (podcrasher) or two show up and try to destroy the show. This is why I really don’t accept calls from anonymous users.
Talkshoe like many other web services that have a chat server appears to suffer from the same problems of connections timing out. This leads to increased frustration by everyone as you have to refresh the browser if you’re using the Web Client to reconnect or, you need to close the pro client and reopen it. This issue has seemingly become worst as time moves on.
Last but not least, you will not receive studio quality sound from your podcasts if they are produced on Talkshoe. But, calling into Talkshoe.com via X-Lite has enabled me to have great audio quality, at least thats what the listeners have told me. You can’t control an individuals audio quality so although I might sound great, the callers may sound terrible. However, if the show contains great content, I think there are many people who are willing to forgive the audio quality.
I have been a member of Talkshoe since early 2007 and have never reached a point where I got up and left the service for something else. I have given BlogTalkRadio a look through but I am not pleased with their host page layout. Talkshoe has plenty of things it can do to improve its service as well as the site itself but only time will tell if they put these improvements into place. If you are looking for a service that practically does everything for you minus the talking, give Talkshoe a try.