Whilst searching for podcast related material for my own project I came across some articles and websites which discuss the importance of the medium and they put forward some very insightful and relevant points that I think are worth bringing attention to. Whilst they emphasize the significance and the value of podcasts they also take things into account that are very beneficial for me to be aware of as it will have positive effects towards planning my project.

Figure 1: Who still listens to podcasts.

Figure 1: Who still listens to podcasts.

Alex Hudson, a writer for the BBC talks about the ‘supposed’ demise of podcasts and provides very good discussion from other individuals about the prominence of this medium and its demand in the digital age. Hudson identifies how popular podcasts became in 2005 as an explosion in their download figures suggested they were going to be “the next big thing” (Hudson 2011) but reveals how their recent decrease in popularity does not actually convey the fact that this medium has become redundant. He credits their vast coverage of topic and outlines how despite on the surface podcasts appear to have fallen in the rise of social media, they are in fact continuing to grow.

“More than eight million adults in the UK – around 16% of the adult population – have downloaded a podcast, with almost half listening to one at least once a week. This figure is echoed in the US. As a comparison, this is still a greater percentage of people than use Twitter.” (Hudson 2011).

What was so revolutionary about podcasting was that for the first time the playing field became level (to a degree) and anybody could upload their own content alongside professionally produced material on iTunes and other hosting facilities. What is evident however is their fall in demand within mainstream media.

Radio futurologist James Cridland argues that much of podcasting is merely repeated content distributed via another medium and that it is not that different to normal radio. Just because they are downloadable does not change their content he states and whilst he does acknowledge that podcasting offers a very good alternative to radio, the hard part he says is finding adequate examples.

Cridland makes a good point here and this borders on the line of issues within participatory culture where the same examples can be said of YouTube video and blogs. However I think he puts blame on the medium and fails to credit its affordences very well. Yes, there are a lot of podcasts that are poor in their distribution of content but this should not subtract from the opportunities that the podcast facilitates.

Heidi Knoblauch provides a very positive look into the importance and power of podcasting arguing that it has the ability to relate complex arguments into digestible bits of information. Furthermore podcasts reform arguments into relatable stories for their audience and rather than churn out statistics they can be transformed into interesting and relatable content. Indeed I think that they allow the fusion of multiple layers of audio to fabricate a intriguing, captivating and informative artefact, in ways that cannot be achieved through other mediums, radio included. Furthermore what they achieve is versatility and they provide audiences with a very wide range of content, far more so than radio and it is extremely accessible too which adds to its appeal.

Knoblauch also goes on to talk about methods of distribution, planning, format, equipment and editing and gives very useful information that I can revisit later once I am nearer to the production process.

 

References

Hudson, A. (2011) ‘Podcasts: Who still listens to them?’ BBC. [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/9545533.stm [Accessed on 07/03/15]

Knoblauch, H. (2014) ‘The Importance of Audio and Podcasts.’ Blog [online] Available at: http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2014/07/02/podcasting/ [Accessed on 07/03/15]

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