Now that I’m a full-time editor again I haven’t interviewed anyone in about a year, so I haven’t kept up with new apps and tools for interviewing and transcribing. Actually, that first part isn’t 100% true. I just interviewed my friends Chris and Courtney about their upcoming wedding. For that in-person interview I used Dictamus on my iPhone, which automatically sends the file to Dropbox. Once it’s in Dropbox, Wappwolf automatically converts it to MP3. It’s awesome!
I also just recommended theinterviewr.com to someone because of its clean interface. It’s a website that lets you schedule interviews, place calls, and store your audio. According to a recent blog post, they’re going to add low-cost transcription services, too. (EDIT: Looks like they added it, it starts at $1/minute for a 10-day turnaround, which is average for online transcription, but you can definitely find someone on craigslist for cheaper). That could potentially make it an all-in-one solution to interviewing and transcribing.
Since I haven’t been doing many phone interviews, I haven’t used the site, but I tried scheduling a call in advance to test it out anyway. You just fill out a screen on the site that asks for the interview day and time, and your number and the number of your interview subject. I don’t think the program automatically called me, like I expected it to. Or, if it did, maybe I didn’t pick up. I do that — or don’t do that — a lot. Later that night I tried simply adding in the info and placing the call, which worked perfectly. The call quality both on the call and on the recording was clear, not amazing, but definitely better than Skype. There was little delay. And when I ended my call the audio was there, ready to download or play in the browser immediately.
The interface is simple: a calendar for scheduling, a simple address book for keeping call contacts, and, on the interview screen, a place to keep notes both before and during the call. The log is actually really clean and nice:
There are just two major problems.
— No volume meter. I talked about why I need a volume meter before. Basically, when you aren’t using a physical tape recorder, when you can’t see the button pressed and the tape spinning, that digital meter becomes the most comforting thing in the world. You want visual confirmation that your recorder is, in fact, recording.
— No way to record without placing the call yourself. Most writers and journalists place their own calls, of course, so this isn’t an issue. But many entertainment journalists have to rely on publicists connecting the calls, so they usually call you. This won’t work for those calls.
And there’s one minor problem: cost. TheInterviewr charges .20 cents per interview, .10 per interview if you buy a $12 one-year membership. They start you off with a $5 credit, though, so it’s easy enough to try.
One possible worth-it situation is if you are interviewing someone overseas. Though I haven’t tried it, you could, hypothetically, get a cheaper call by routing it through TheInterviewr’s service, so their US-based number calls you, while they connect you to the overseas number. Again, haven’t tried it, but it could work. According to their FAQ, international numbers are fine, and their calls come from a 206 number.
Update: The Interviewr’s Roger sent me a few clarifications. Here’s his email:
I happened across the post you made on the site, and just thought I’d point out a couple things..
1) cost.. The price is per call, which when you look at most phone system, those are per-minute usually. And our per-call price is the same international. Obviously, we can’t operate a call system like this for free, so we have to charge somewhere. What we do charge is actually well-below industry standard though, where some places would charge 12-20 dollars a month, not 12 a year. And the feedback has been positive from our other users.
2) If you are a subscriber, then you can actually have calls come from any number you want it.
3) We are releasing a browser phone shortly, but will give you volume control via your computer, but not getting into too many details til it’s available. :)
4) Transcriptions, yes, they may be cheaper on Craigslist, but we actually have a team of professionally trained transcriptionists working with us, and our main transcriptionist actually teaches at a transcription school locally. As for the prices, they are actually based on industry standard, and has actually been well received as well as we have already done over two dozen transcriptions since it launched.. FYI, it actually launched a couple weeks early for our 12 dollar a year subscribers, as they also get access to features early.
We’re actually not that new-ish, we’ve been in business for over a year, and have dozens of interviews being conducted every day, sometimes more.
Other factors with us, is we provide top-notch support and answer most tickets within minutes usually to help resolve any issues.
Anyhow, this ended up being longer than planned, I just wanted to point out a few things :)