Last week, the folks at Rivet Radio invited me to write a guest column about podcasting for their blog. I was honored, and obliged by writing about one of my favorite online tricks: Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service to aircheck yourself. This technique will work just as well for radio DJs as it will for podcasters, so I wanted to share it with you as well.
Not many people know about Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a service that allows you to hire people to perform small tasks. In this case, you'll be hiring them to listen to some audio from your show and give you feedback. It's similar to the process movie studios use when they perform a test screening for new films. Best of all, it will only cost you a few dollars.
Of course, this isn't the same as airchecking with a seasoned Program Director, but it will give you a good idea of how listeners react. Mechanical Turk doesn't give you the ability to choose the demographics of your respondents (aside from requiring that they live in the United States), but don't worry about it. Some of the feedback you get will be incredibly insightful, and some of it will be terrible, but it's so inexpensive that it won't matter. What you're really looking for is the suggestions and comments that you hear repeatedly. If one person tells you that your joke about the Pumpkin latte was offensive, you can write it off. But if three people react badly, you'd better pay attention. I find Mechanical Turk most useful for obtaining feedback that deep down inside you know is true, but you need to hear it from somebody else before you'll actually do something about it.
Before you start, you'll need to post an audio file of your show online so people can access it through a link. There are several services that will allow you to do this: Soundcloud, Evernote, Dropbox, even YouTube. Upload your audio and copy the link. Then head over to the Mechanical Turk Requester site and follow this video tutorial:
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