July 10, 2006


Hear it before you see it with podcasts for tourists (KATE SHELLNUTT, July 10, 2006, The Virginian-Pilot)

No suitcases, no road map, no $40 gas tank fill-ups, no hotel reservations. This summer, all it takes to visit Virginia attractions is an iPod and a few free downloads. [...]

Don Pierce, publisher of Civil War Traveler, uses podcasts to supplement a different experience – touring battlefields.

“This is really the first walking tour designed in a digital format, at least that I’ve heard of,” said Pierce, who worked with the National Park Service to produce a podcast for a 1.5-mile tour of Malvern Hill, located at the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

“A historian can be talking in your ear while you walk through the battlefield,” where Civil War soldiers fought in 1862, said Pierce. His site, called www.civilwartraveler.com, also includes maps so listeners at home can see the troops’ positions.

Both Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg developed podcasts, aiming them at history buffs and touring families.

Chad Wollerton, Monticello’s Webmaster, said some people download podcasts to listen to them on the way to Thomas Jefferson’s central Virginia home, while others keep them on their iPods to listen whenever. “They’re so portable; they really go anywhere,” said Wollerton.

The digital audio format allows people to experience information in a different way, he said. Monticello launched its podcast program last August, and about 1,000 podcasts are downloaded from its Web site each month.

Colonial Williamsburg began posting weekly podcasts on its Web site in June 2005. Last month, the site had more than 54,000 podcast downloads. [...]



Colonial Williamsburg:
Williamsburg began posting weekly podcasts on its Web site in June 2005. They include interviews with costumed actors playing famous figures or Colonial citizens.

Malvern Hill Battlefield in Richmond:
A 1.5-mile walking tour of Malvern Hill, at Richmond National Battlefield Park, is designed to put a "historian in your ear."


Monticello in Albemarle County:
Aimed at history buffs and touring families. The Monticello webmaster said many listen to its podcasts while driving to the home.

Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.:
Several Smithsonian museums offer podcasts, including two specializing in Asian art that offer tour narration, interviews, storytelling and music.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 10, 2006 6:45 AM
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