In 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose ‘podcast’ as their word of the year. But it seems that, for some people, the definition (and the distinction) of the term ‘podcast’ is still not clear. Podcasts can still get confused with streaming, and downloadable audio or video. According to Ted Dempoulos, in his What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging And Podcasting book:
“Podcasts are more than downloadable audio. The biggest difference between downloadable audio and a Podcast is the subscription component… Podcasts allow you to subscribe, and new shows are automatically downloaded as they are produced. Listeners can subscribe via Podcatcher software, and an RSS reader that supports enclosures, or iTunes. Regular Internet radio does not allow you to subscribe.”
Podcasting can be thought of as an evolution of blogging; it’s audio or video blogging, blogging being the writing of a textual online log or journal. People can choose to subscribe to a blog, getting informed of the latest update through RSS (Real Simple Syndication). RSS allows for the same process with podcasts.
When audio and video podcasting first came along, it created tremendous opportunities for anyone to record their own show and publish to the world for free, thereby promoting new voices and their stories without the need to be on the radio, or necessarily to have expensive recording equipment. It can also overcome the problem of continually growing an audience to be able to sell advertising. Podcasting’s lower running costs (at least for the start-up podcaster) often mean that not attracting advertising revenue isn’t the end of the world. And another plus is that small can be beautiful: podcasting can be niche, operating for a small audience, allowing the podcaster to really dig into the topic of interest to her or him.
The podcast creator can experiment with various content around this topic, probably finding that some content resonates more with their audience than others. The medium has many benefits for the listener too. There’s the immediacy of podcasts, which allows for the audience to react by giving (positive and negative) feedback. This can inform the show’s creator going forward. And a listener has the ability to pause, rewind, fast-forward, or delete the content. And although there’s the continuity of presenter(s) and overall topic, each podcast episode can be stand-alone, so missing an episode isn’t be a problem.
Podcasts have also been really beneficial for traditional media, such as radio shows. Broadcasters can make their radio shows into podcasts (perhaps editing them into a ‘highlights’ package of the best bits) so that they can be downloaded anywhere, multiplying the potential audience many times.
Podcasting has come a long way since the term was invented in a 2004 Guardian article (a mash-up between ‘broadcasting’ and the then-new wonder-gadget the ‘iPod’). Research in the US shows the number of people who have heard of podcasting has reached 64%, up from 37% in 2008. And the medium is still growing. It’s a great time to get into podcasting, as it’s relatively less crowded and competitive than blogging; as of early 2018, there were just over half a million podcasts, but over 440 million blogs. Whether as a brand or as an individual, it’s a good time to produce exciting and compelling content about an industry or interest for a global audience.
Our next blog post will look at how to get started with creating a podcast.