A few years ago, a good friend of mine, Joe Steinkamp, came to me with an idea. What if we put a few people together and record a show talking all about Android. At the time, I thought he was a bit crazy since after all, the number of blind users on an Android device was likely somewhere close to 0. Even if a few of us could successfully fill an hour talking about Google's fledgling operating system, who would actually listen? It was this willingness to think outside of the box that drove the popularity of the SeroTalk Podcast Network.
In addition to Joe, Ricky Enger, Buddy Brannan, Lisa Salinger and Richard Wells all had a hand in creating some of the most listened to podcasts for the blind. The same innovation that propelled Main Menu as a premier technology show in 2001 could be seen in the content and production of a half a dozen podcasts. The SPN team, along with unsung audio heroes Patrick Perdue and Derek Lane, produced programs of a quality rarely seen in a niche market.
Whether it was the 12-year-old kid developing a Braille printer out of legos or James Gashal answering questions on the KNFB Reader app for the iPhone, SPN was one of the most comprehensive places to go for assistive technology news and so much more. In addition to the main hosts, several additional presenters came on board as volunteers, giving their time and effort to help create some memorable podcasts.
At this point, it's safe to say that the future of SPN might look quite different than it does now. The 5 staff members tweeted on Friday that they would be no longer working for the company. While it's certainly possible this was some sort of PR joke, I have a strong feeling there will be changes afoot. Jamie Pauls, the lead host for the SeroTalk weekly podcast, is still with the company, and it's perfectly feasible to think that at least this show would continue to be produced. Serotek has promised more information and a blog post, and we hope to know more about the future of the company soon.
However it happens, it's always sad to see qualified blind people losing jobs in a world where it's already more difficult for someone with a disability to find employment. I have confidence in this group that they'll land on their feet, whether it's doing more podcasts or something completely different.
As a website and content producer myself, it would be very easy for a network like SPN to try to compete with us. And while there was some friendly banter from time to time, it was a joy to work with Joe, Ricky, and the others to promote assistive technology. The end-of-year specials, which were a collaboration between Blind Bargains and SPN, were some of the most memorable for me, bringing a stagnant list of stories to a much more exciting interactive countdown. SeroTalk also did a bang-up job covering the CSUN conference, and would help us out in locating interviews or sharing stories. While it may have seemed to the listener that we were providing competing coverage, we worked together to ensure that as much of the conference would be represented between us.
In closing, I just want to recognize the cohesion of the SPN team and the great lengths they endured to produce quality material. In addition to podcasts, these people held important roles at the company, meaning they needed to juggle both recording and other tasks like technical support and marketing. Despite, most of them working from home, I'm hard-pressed to find a more talented and cohesive group of people. The enthusiasm they showed for the products of Serotek and the podcasts they produced was unmatched and contagious. We look forward to seeing what the future holds, and wish them all the best.Category: Articles
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.