UNCP’s WNCP-TV launches video ‘podcasts’


UNC Pembroke’s WNCP-TV now features video podcasts, according to an announcement by Erin Berry, student promotions director of WNCP News.

Just months after the introduction of Apple’s video version of its popular iPod, WNCP offered its student-run news programs for downloading.

“Full-length episodes of WNCP’s student-produced news have been available for iPod users since February 3,” Berry said. “Our first ‘RSS feed’ was posted shortly after midnight on March 22.”

wncp_podcasting.jpgPodcasting is the process of producing digitized content and posting it to the Web in a “RSS 2.0 envelope” in such a way that makes the content available like a subscription. “RSS” stands for Real Simple Syndication, and this structure uses computer code called XML to map it to a producer’s show so it can be detected by audience software such as iTunes, said George Johnson, WNCP’s engineer and an adjunct instructor in the Department of Mass Communications.

“This is true ‘podcasting,’” Johnson said. “The content flows automatically to a subscriber’s computer when the subscriber’s iTunes software connects to the Internet.”

Viewers using iTunes can use the “Advanced” drop-down menu and choose “Subscribe to Podcast,” then type in the following URL: www.uncp.edu/wncp/news.rss.

Berry said the files are quite large. Episodes of WNCP News average 160 megabytes, so it takes time to download.

The Department of Mass Communications offered live “streaming” and archiving of the weekly student news show (formerly called Carolina News Today) beginning in 1999. The Web site also offered special programs like Impact, the Distinguished Speakers Series interview program; Inside Athletics, the sports talk show and live streams of basketball and volleyball before the station began broadcasting live television from the Jones Athletic Center.

“We’re are streaming video and posting it to the Web in the RealVideo format, and we started putting WNCP News up on the Web in the MPEG-4 format more than a month ago,” Dr. Litty said.

The Web site offered select iPod-ready episodes of Academe Today, Inside Athletics, Picture of Health, and Braves basketball since February. Viewers can visit www.uncp.edu/wncp/program.htm to download. Some programming is also available in RealVideo.

Dr. Litty said she watches WNCP News every week at home on an iPod because she can’t catch it live on Time Warner’s cable channel 6 in Robeson County on Friday mornings. She said the viewing experience with March episodes is a great improvement over first takes.

“Each week George (Johnson) masters new techniques in compressing it and then shows a student how to do it,” she said. “There’s nothing like learning by doing, as we say in this department.”

The Pine Needle, the student-rung campus newspaper, also began podcasting this spring.

“I’m excited about The Pine Needle’s potential for podcasting, too,” Dr. Litty said. “This is the direction in which the whole department is moving. In fact, this is the direction the University is moving. Faculty here will be conducting some significant experiments with podcasting for their classes in the coming months.”

For more information, visit www.uncp.edu/wncp/, or call the Department of Mass Communications at 910.521.5723.