Introducing "The End of the Road in Michigan" Podcast

M-25 Roadway

I’m experimenting with new content for Thumbwind. Podcasts are growing in popularity, and I’m intrigued by the potential of this format. With 100’s of great stories on our site, I thought there is plenty of excellent content in which to choose from to create a great Michigan Podcast. However, it seemed like a daunting task to record and format each and every post made over the past 10 years.

Using Artificial Intelligence and Neural Voice Technology

As an IT guy for a major company, I get exposure to some of very interesting, cutting edge technology. For example, several years ago I developed and brought to life a Chatbot on Facebook Messenger. It’s a neat application and its used every day from Thumbwind’s Facebook Page. That experience was useful for my day job in leading projects for chatbot development at a commercial level. However, I thought it fell short when trying to extend content choices out to more people on Thumbwind.

Creating Podcasts for Great Stories

The End Of The Road In Michigan

I wanted to create Podcasts without having to buy equipment and set up a studio. Recording the story is only the beginning. Then there is editing. Clipping and merging tracks and ensuring all the mic levels jive with the bumper music. What a pain.

I started looking at the text to speech software. After reviewing the options I opted to utilize a technology based on Amazon Polly. Launched in 2016, Polly is a cloud service that converts text into lifelike speech. While not completely perfect, I found that Amazon’s advances with Neural voice inflection offer a pleasing, conversational tone that is perfect for storytelling. Within a short period of time, I created three podcasts from some of the older stories on this site.

This gave me the chance to update the content and experiment with the lexicon of the text-to-speech service. For example, Polly cannot properly say the word, “Saginaw”, so phonetic adjustments had to be made. The French-based words Au Gres, Pointe Aux Barques, and Charlevoix, were also troublesome. As was the tempo and pacing of the reading. It was a fun learning experience.

Introducing “The End of the Road in Michigan” Podcasts

Soon, I hope to post both text and audio podcasts with new content at the same time. For the historical podcasts, I chose the podcast provider, Spreaker to be the home page for the End of the Road in Michigan stories and utilize its distribution capability to Apple Podcast and Google Podcasts. This will allow Thumbwind to be even more accessible and offer a new medium in which to offer more great stories and updates. I hope you will find this an interesting effort and I invite you to become a podcast subscriber.

The End of the Road in Michigan

Each Saturday, we select one of Thumbwind.com’s amazing short stories from the Great Lakes region and the Tip of Michigan’s Thumb. So sit back, relax and enjoys this week’s tale from the End of the Road in Michigan.


The End of the Road in Michigan News

A weekly update of News and Events in Michigan’s Upper Thumb. Plus special podcast of issues and in-depth coverage of Michigan issues.


A Fortnight in the Wilderness

In 1831, 26-year-old Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont, took the ultimate road trip. The pair of French aristocrats journey from Buffalo New York to the Straights of Detroit with the intent of going to the last overland outpost of civilization; Saginaw. Predating Michigan’s statehood, the lumber industry, and homestead settlement, the story weaves a tale of what early Northwest territory life was like in the early 1800s. We travel with them along with the famous Saginaw trail meeting unique individuals hacking their way into virgin forests and meeting its native inhabitants. It’s also a commentary of the environment and how supposedly civilized society will forever impact nature. This takes place 180 years before today’s concept of climate change. It’s a fascinating short story that is an excerpt from the book A Fortnight in the Wilderness and is now freely available for the first time anywhere as a podcast.


Related Reading for Michigan Podcasts

There is a standard that is almost ignored by the small site and blogging community; Web Accessibility. Having a site deemed Accessible means it follows WCAG standards and allows those with disabilities the ability to utilize websites and services. WCAG compliance and SEO – Do Both Now to Benefit Later

One accessibility software company pointed out that one in five Americans have some kind of disability with a total disposable income exceeding $645 billion dollars annually. What is a chief concern for content providers is that if this huge market can’t access and read your site, what good is it? Get Up to Speed on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Web Accessibility testing tools is currently the hot topic for business and ecommerce sites. If you’re selling a product or service, no matter how small, your website should be set up to accommodate potential customers who have special needs or disabilities. 3 Accessibility Testing Tools Small Websites Should Be Using

End Of the Road In Michigan Podcast
End Of the Road In Michigan Podcast
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