12 August 2009

A Day At The TWiT Cottage

Those of you who follow the podcasts I'm in will be aware by now that I've just spent a couple of weeks visiting friends in the United States. The primary purpose of this trip was to attend my high school 20 years class reunion in Quitman, Arkansas. As a bonus, I was granted permission to visit the centre of the podcasting universe, the studios of This Week in Tech, otherwise known as the TWiT Cottage, and to meet Leo Laporte.

Located in Petaluma, California, I had to negotiate some pretty nasty freeway traffic in San Francisco (thankful for the decision to rent a GPS along with the car). It's about 100km north of the city. You have to look carefully to find the studio, as they like to keep things low key, but once found, it's a fascinating place to visit. For those who don't follow the TWiT Network, it's the home of about a dozen technology related podcasts, both audio & video, and also where Leo broadcasts his weekly Tech Guy radio show.

Being an amatuer podcaster, it was fascinating to sit back and watch the master at work. Leo live streams everything he does, and if you ever watch him at work, you see him from shoulders up. What you don't see below camera level are his hands constantly flying across multiple keyboards getting information off the net, adjusting sound levels, switching cameras, making each show looking effortless. It was great to watch. Just as impressive is his work ethic. In the four hours I was there, Leo recorded four seperate podcasts - one immediately following the next. This day he recorded episodes of TWiT Fit, Roz Rows, Maxwells House and Dr. Kikis Science Hour.

The facility is managed by Dane Golden, who took the time to show me around every nook and cranny of the cottage. The studio is on the ground level along with the main office, and upstairs is an editing suite, a green room and another room for building computers and other infrastructure.

It was a great day and a highlight of my trip. A big thanks to Dane & Leo for allowing me to visit and for being so open and welcoming.

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