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Dan Voelpel
Business Columnist
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Brace yourself for the great podcast wave

Published: October 16th, 2005 12:01 AM

Want to know why a wave of something called podcasts will take over the Internet?

You need only download from the Internet the opening repartee between self-described TV fan and interviewer Dana Greenlee of University Place and Jennifer Love Hewitt, star of the new CBS TV show “Ghost Whisperer.”

“You were so cute up there” at the screening of the show, Dana begins. “You were giggling the whole time.”

“I know,” Hewitt offered. “I’m terrified to speak in public, which I shouldn’t be, obviously, the business that I’m in. But I am. So the only thing I know how to do is tell a quick joke and laugh and then leave – and feel like I’m going to pee on myself.”

Dana and Rob Greenlee record a podcast in their home studio in University Place.
The late great CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow could never have gotten that kind of disclosure out of his interviews with, say, actresses Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe. (On second thought, Marilyn Monroe might have confessed to something like that.)

“That’s what grass-roots podcasting is all about,” said Rob Greenlee, Dana’s husband. “It’s two people sitting in front of their microphone talking about something they’re passionate about.”

So last month at Studio 33 – where the game show “The Price is Right” is taped – at CBS Television City in Hollywood, professional radio broadcasters from 10 major U.S. markets got time with more than 30 stars, directors and producers of the CBS fall TV lineup.

So did superfan Dana Greenlee.

CBS picked her from several hundred podcasting wannabes who responded to an advertisement on the CBS Web site. Who better to introduce the CBS stars to their fans on the Internet than a fan?

“They gave me no parameters whatsoever,” Dana said. “They just told me, ‘Do what you do.’ It was all hands-off, which was a little disconcerting but a little freeing at the same time.”

To call Dana an amateur, however, isn’t true.

She has a degree in radio and television. She worked for a time in the broadcast business in LA. She runs a fan Web site for the ABC drama “Boston Legal” and has a weekly online interview show following each episode.

Most importantly, Dana and Rob get credit in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia for being the first traditional broadcast radio hosts to begin podcasting to the Internet in September 2004 by posting downloadable audio files of their Web Talk Radio interviews.

Since then, podcasts have stormed the news and entertainment world. Just last week:

 • Yahoo unveiled a portal to podcasts at

 • The Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page story that mega-radio station owner Clear Channel, Walt Disney Co., ABC News and National Public Radio have started to sink money and energy into podcasts – offering listeners subscriptions so they can download programs into their Apple iPods or other portable MP3 devices.

While Big Media struggles to find ways to profit from the podcast business, independents like the Greenlees continue presenting niche content for free.

Consider that CBS flew Dana and Rob – as her producer – to Hollywood for the interviews. The network didn’t pay her for her on-air or editing time. “It’s an avocation,” Dana said.

Instead, the Greenlees make their living in part through Web Talk Radio but mostly by consulting in the high-tech field and operating a network of servers that host online broadcasts and podcasts for others.

If you haven’t heard of podcasts before, don’t feel bad. Dana made it part of her interviewing routine with the TV stars to ask about podcasts.

“The younger actors were all over it,” Dana said.

Rob Morrow of “NUMB3RS” downloads podcasts on philosophy.

Jeff Probst, host of “Survivor,” downloads conversational podcasts on filmmaking.

But Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing didn’t know a thing about podcasts. Winkler – best remembered as The Fonz from the 1974-1983 comedy “Happy Days” – and Channing star in the new comedy “Out of Practice,” about a family of physicians with not much in common except their jobs.

Dana will remember Wink-ler’s “sense of fun.” She’ll remember the stand-up comedy humor of Jon Cryer from “Two and a Half Men.”

Most memorable of all, perhaps, was the screening of “Ghost Whisperer” the night before the interviews. CBS reserved space at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The Greenlees and other guests passed by the grave markers of Hollywood legends such as filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, screen idols Rudolph Valentino and Tyrone Power, gangster Bugsy Siegel and Looney Tunes voice Mel Blanc, whose epitaph reads, “That’s All Folks.”

The opening episode of “Ghost Whisperer” played on the large white wall of a mausoleum. And, thanks to Dana Greenlee’s podcast, we all know what almost happened to Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Dana Greenlee on the NET




What’s a podcast?

podcast (noun) – a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player. Podcast derives from a combination of the words “broadcast” and “iPod.”

Dan Voelpel: 253-597-8785

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