Mike BuetowFor years I’ve resisted the calls (and occasional) urge to expand our vehicles for delivering information to voice or video. There are a number of reasons why.

For one, I felt – and still feel – a large percentage of our subscribers actually like the activity of reading. (After all, you are reading this, right?) This has been borne out by the fact that we maintain a subscriber base of more than 60,000 designers and engineers. That’s a lot of eyeballs, and it doesn’t begin to take into account the thousands and thousands more who aren’t subscribers and read the magazine online.

I also recognize that for many in our industry, work is all-consuming. Seriously, when outside the office, how often do you check your email, or log in to see how your factory is running? Frequently, I imagine. The tools that allow us to physically escape the office have the ironic capability to keep us tethered to it. Health experts advise that when you have a chance to disconnect, you should take it and not look back. Easier said than done.

And then there’s my voice. I won’t get into that, except to say I like everyone else’s better. Yes, even yours.

In my years in journalism, one of the aspects I enjoy most is conducting the interview. It’s not as simple as it seems. A question asked wrong, or well-worded but asked in the wrong order, could upset the entire rest of the conversation – or end it altogether. Worded properly and asked at the right moment, however, the subject will expand into areas that even they might not have intended, all for the benefit of the audience.

Even for media, the pressure to develop new methods to reach and interact with audiences is relentless. Spending several days recently driving the freeways of Silicon Valley, I began using the time to listen to podcasts. And the more I did so, the more I began to accept that it’s time for us at UP Media to take the plunge.

And so it is with much excitement, and a little trepidation, that I announce the arrival of PCB Chat, our new podcast. On PCB Chat, I conduct interviews with industry experts and luminaries to discuss issues of the day critical to designers and manufacturers.

My first guest was Mike Konrad of Aqueous Technologies, who shares about his experience with what happens when a contract manufacturer follows its customer’s instructions to the detriment of the product. (As Mike says, “Product failures, blame, drama, and a really big lawsuit.”) As much as I love writing, some stories are simply meant to be heard, not read. Mike’s is one of them.

Next was Joe Fama, one of our occasional columnists and an expert in contract manufacturing business development, especially in Southeast Asia. Joe sees an unmet need for NPI, and an opportunity for domestic US companies to team with their Asia counterparts. So although the respective companies come from totally different cultures and markets, Joe notes a synergy of product phasing from concept through full mass production.

In our talk, Joe offers his take on establishing partnerships between smaller shops in the US and mid- to high-volume companies in lower-cost regions. He expounds on the key aspects for a good partnership, and how even the OEM’s location in the US can play a role in how they view their offshore partner.

By the time you read this, there will be one or two more posted, including one with a really well-known design guru.

We expect to host at least one new podcast a week. Please tune in to to listen in. Or, if you prefer, you can download the recordings to your PC or phone using iTunes or Google Play. Search under PCB Chat.

Happy listening. Just don’t ask me to add video. As much as I dislike my voice, it’s a huge improvement over my looks.

P.S. See you this month at Productronica!

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