Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Listen to the first LIVE broadcast Genealogy Gems Podcast

It was such a treat for us to take The Genealogy Gems Podcast on the road this last weekend to the Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona.  Recording from my studio is enjoyable and comfy, but can't compare with doing the show in front of a live audience!  What a blast!  And it's available for listening now!

Of course I had some terrific guests lined up for Episode 79 who lit up the stage.  (Above Gena Philibert Ortega of Gena's Genealogy Blog.)  Gena inspired the audience to venture into the world of Genealogy Blogs by explaining what they are, how to find them, and how to subscribe.  She even treated them to a photos posted moments before she took the stage which certainly conveyed the immediacy of blogging.

Then Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers delivered loads of fun and blogger beads...

And Anastasia Tyler of Ancestry.com (fresh from her stint on The Martha Steward Show) talked about the brand new genealogy themed TV show coming to NBC on March 5 as well as what's new at Ancestry...

But my most important guests that night were the folks in the audience...

Stage Manager Lacey Cooke roamed the tables with the microphone and attendees had lots to say!

Be part of the audience yourself by downloading Episode 79 of The Genealogy Gems Podcast or listening right from the media player on the Episode 79 Show Notes web page.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Watch the WDYTYA Preview Video Now

Here it is...the preview of the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are?

Friday, January 22, 2010

...with a little help from my genealogy friends!

Tonight was a first:  the first LIVE episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.  Presented at the Family History Expo Banquet in Mesa, AZ tonight, this episode was a joy to do!  (above: Bruce Buzbee, me, Amy Urman a listener and helper extraordinaire, and Thomas MacEntee.)

My guests were:
These terrific folks were game to go on this new adventure with me and I can't think of better guests.  And I was particularly excited to announce tonight that Rootsmagic is now an official sponsor of the podcast - Thank you Bruce Buzbee for all your support and for joining me on stage!

The audience was enthusiast and didn't seem to need much prompting at all from Stage Manager Lacey Cooke (my daughter and stand in host occasionally on the show, below) and her applause sign!

 Lacey kept it together, juggling multi media, audience questions, and the technical side of things. She's amazing, and I would say that even if I wasn't her mom!

And if you weren't there tonight you missed Thomas MacEntee's show stopping entrance as he distributed his famous "blogger beads" to the audience in Rip Taylor fashion and then joined me on stage to cover the Top 10 Genealogy Blogging Myths. He was FAB!

All in all we family historians got together and just had a darn good time.  Could this be the beginning of something new for Genealogy Gems?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are Begins March 5 on NBC - for real!

While at the Ancestry Blogger Event this last weekend I got an insiders look at the trailer for the new genealogy themed series Who Do You Think You Are?  It was very touching and revealed that stars like Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith were part of the cast.

Ancestry execs were chomping at the bit to get the word out but didn't have the greenlight to make a full announcement.  But the light has turned and it's all systems go. 
NBC just released the following press release finally confirming the premiere of the U.S. version of the hit U.K. series Who Do You Think You Are?  Stay tuned to this blog and The Genealogy Gems Podcast for much more - soon!  But for now, get the word out to your friends, family and neighbors.  After the Leno fiasco, we all need to do all we can to get the word out so that the ratings are great and the show keeps delivering!

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. - January 14, 2010 - NBC unveiled its new post-Winter Olympics primetime program schedule today. The new drama series "Parenthood" will premiere on Tuesday, March 2 (10-11 p.m. ET) and the comedy panel series "The Marriage Ref" from Jerry Seinfeld will premiere Thursday, March 4 (10-11 p.m. ET) after its sneak preview on Sunday, February 28 (10:30-11 p.m. ET) following NBC's coverage of the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

In addition, the new alternative series "Who Do You Think You Are?" from Lisa Kudrow will premiere Friday, March 5 (8-9 p.m. ET) and the new game show "Minute to Win It" joins the lineup on Sunday, March 14 (8-9 p.m. ET). Also, "Friday Night Lights" will begin a new broadcast season on NBC on Fridays (8-9 p.m. ET) starting April 30 after "Who Do You Think You Are?" concludes its run.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" premieres Friday, March 5 (8-9 p.m. ET) and gives viewers an up-close and personal look inside the family history of some of today's most beloved and iconic celebrities. Among the celebrities featured are Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Spike Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith. Ancestry.com is NBC's official partner on the series. From executive producer Kudrow ("Friends," "The Comeback") - in conjunction with her production company Is or Isn't Entertainment and the U.K.'s Wall to Wall productions - "Who Do You Think You Are?" is an adaptation of the hit BBC television documentary series created and executive-produced by Alex Graham.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" is produced by Wall to Wall productions (a Shed Media Company) in association with Is or Isn't Entertainment. Alex Graham and Lucy Carter from Wall to Wall and Lisa Kudrow, Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos from Is or Isn't Entertainment are the executive producers. Bryn Freedman is the co-executive producer.

The new post-Olympics program schedule grid follows (all times ET); new series are in upper case.


8-9 p.m. - "Chuck"

9-10 p.m. - "Trauma" (beginning March 8)

10-11 p.m. -"Law & Order" (returns March 1 with two-hour episode, 9-11 p.m. (ET); resumes in regular time slot March 8)


8-10 p.m. - "The Biggest Loser"

10-11 p.m. - "PARENTHOOD" (premieres March 2)

8-9 p.m. - "Mercy"

9-10 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (encores beginning March 3)

10-11 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (originals beginning March 3)


8-8:30 p.m. - "Community"

8:30-9 p.m. - "Parks and Recreation"

9-9:30 p.m. - "The Office"

9:30-10 p.m. - "30 Rock"

10-11 p.m. - "THE MARRIAGE REF" (premieres March 4; sneak preview February 28)


8-9 p.m. - "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" (premieres March 5; "Friday Night Lights" returns on April 30)

9-11 p.m. - "Dateline NBC" (begins March 5)

SATURDAYS (all beginning March 6)

8-9 p.m. - "The Biggest Loser" (encore episode)

9-10 p.m. - "Law & Order" (encore episode)

10-11 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (encore episode)

SUNDAYS (all beginning March 14)

7-8 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"

8-9 p.m. - "MINUTE TO WIN IT" (premieres March 14)

9-11 p.m. - "The Celebrity Apprentice" (season premiere March 14)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Behind the Scenes at Ancestry.com - Your Questions, Their Answers

Have you ever had a question about Ancestry.com?  (is the sky blue?)  Like you, questions and comments have crossed my mind as I search for the records of my ancestors as well as prepare episodes of the Genealogy Gems Podcast.  This weekend I had the chance to get some answers.

One of the perks of being a genealogy media producer is being invited to events like the Blogger's Day 2010 at Ancestry.com (though considering the wide range of online gen media - audio, video and the written word -  I think Genealogy Media Day would be more a more accurate name.)

This year I had the pleasure of going behind the scenes of the behemoth of genealogy records with:
Diane Haddad, The Genealogy Insider
Kimberly Powell, Genealogy.About.com
Craig Manson, GeneaBlogie
Thomas MacEntee, Geneabloggers
Dick Eastman, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Leland Meitzler - GenealogyBlog
Pat Richley-Erickson  - DearMYRTLE
The Ancestry Insider

I really wanted to pack all my listeners and readers in my rolling suitcase, but it would put me over the airline weight limit.  So instead, before heading for the airport I posted a question on Facebook:  If you could ask the folks at Ancestry one question, what would it be?

Facebook friend Polly Kimmett of the Pollyblog asked a question that preys on the minds of many users: "Are they still outsourcing their indexing?"

Sheri Beffort Fenley of the Educated Genealogist blog chimed in on that topic with:  "It burns my butt that they are doing this when there are so many people here in the U.S. that are out of work."

Heading into this Ancestry sponsored event I definitely shared these same concerns. 

Andrew Wait, Senior Vice President at Ancestry addressed the issue early on in our tour of corporate headquarters.  (off subject note: I Googled his name to verify the spelling for this posting and immediately found his compensation letter signed by CEO Tim Sullivan.  Must be tough to have that out there - one of the perils of going public.  But don't worry, he's doing just fine!!)  I must say that Andrew made a solid case for the indexing outsourcing. Here's the background:

  • The inside term used is "Professional Indexing"
  • They use 3 firms - 2 in China, 1 in Uganda (a few eyebrows went up around the conference table)
  • Per Wait: "They are FAST!"  And that speed is coupled with high quality output. 
  • Wait also made the case that quality and security is encouraged because the outsourcing firm has to fix problems without additional compensation.
  • The strongest argument made is one that should speak to the heart of all genealogists - the increased accuracy they receive from these firms.  In the case of China, their native language is character based, and characters are really at the heart of indexing.  Interpreting the variations of letters over the centuries is key to accuracy.  "Their brains work that way because their language is character based," said Wait.

The bottom line is that in head to head comparisons, Chinese indexers are more accurate (and also faster) than their U.S. counterparts. And of course accuracy is key to effective research (as we have all experienced) 

It's definitely a financial decision as well, no doubt about it.  Outsourcing is cheaper.  But without the accuracy, I really couldn't see the execs we heard from going ahead with this strategy.  I'm sure Director of Member Services (aka the call center) Tom Foster would have something to say about that when complaint calls would begin to surge!

So like everything in life there are tradeoffs.  To keep new records and indexes coming Ancestry has to make it work economically while providing the greatest accuracy possible with humans at the keyboard.

Over the new several blog posts I will continue reporting on the questions, the answers, the surprises, and the fun from my weekend with Ancestry.