Did you know:
- The popularity of podcasts started growing in 2004?
- There are more than 500,000 active podcasts to date?
- There are over 18.5 million podcast episodes available to download?
- Currently, 50% of US homes are listening to digital audio for entertainment?
- 64% of the US population is familiar with the term “podcasting.”
64 percent of people in the US know what a podcast is. This means that roughly 115 million Americans have never heard the term. This is understandable given that individuals in today’s society have access to a large number of opportunities for entertainment. You can watch TV, listen to music, watch movies, read books, play video games, watch or attend sporting events, and enjoy activities with friends and family, just to name a few. In this article, we will be offering our thoughts and opinions to answer two questions: What is podcasting? What makes them enjoyable and competitive when all of these other options are available?
So here we go: What is a podcast?
To put it simply, a podcast is audio content. They are talk shows with no rules. If you’re digging a little deeper, a podcast is digital media that someone chooses to download to a portable media player (or app).
The Purpose of Podcasts
Podcasts can entertain, inform, give advice, provide unique ideas and perspectives, or provide an emotional outlet. Literally, anything you want.Most if not all available shows are related to entertainment in one way or another. Many times, podcasts are hosted by individuals discussing a topic of interest. This is often done with a guest or co-host. Others are news, commentary on specific topics or storytelling much like radio shows from the past. We are not kidding when we say you can find a podcast for anything. Want to listen to the news? Sure! How about listening to super cool stories from history or folklore? No problem! What about books, music, movies and/or any cultural media? Absolutely! Food and drinks? We’ve got you! The options available are many, and more are being created every day.
Imagine being in the car for a long drive, taking a hot bath, cooking dinner, or hiding from your kids in the bathroom. These are just some of the many great times to listen to a podcast!
For show hosts or creators:
Podcasts allow a platform to say whatever you want or need to tell. Some companies use them to keep their employees informed of news, events, and company policy updates. But, for the most part, most people create their shows to entertain or educate. Both the hosts and listeners benefit in this regard.
Let’s say you watched a movie you enjoyed and just want to tell someone about it? Make a podcast. Want to talk about the imaginary reality that is Fantasy Football? Or discuss the latest fashion trends? Want to go on rant about Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto… you get the idea.
A podcast is anything you want it to be as long as the content is delivered in the form of something you listen to. They are opportunities to explore unfamiliar topics, discover new interests, and maybe even break out of your comfort zone.
Well, isn’t that just digital radio?
Well, yeah…kind of. The difference is flexibility and accessibility. How many talk shows and radio stations wish they could fully speak their mind without consequence. Are they going to lose sponsors? Will their bosses get upset? Will the FCC censor or fine them? Even internet radio stations have rules and regulations for their content to accommodate a wide audience. What if you want to listen to information or commentary from other countries? Podcasts make the search for this content easier than other media sources.
Podcasts give you the flexibility to speak your mind on any subject possible. This means you have the freedom to say what you want. Sure there will be people that won’t like what you have to say. It is the internet after all. That just means they don’t have to listen to your show and can go find one they will like/won’t be offended by. Sponsors and listeners have the option to become familiar with your style, so they know what they are getting themselves into when listening or supporting your show.
So where do I find podcasts to listen to?
You can use any podcast app or website. Some of the most popular are Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Overcast, but there are many, many more. You can follow your favorite shows and explore new ones like them. You can also automatically download new episodes if you so choose.
What if I want to create a podcast?
The main benefit to creating podcasts is that anyone can do it. You don’t need to audition or train at Julliard to host one. If you have the patience to record, edit, and release the audio files, you can go for it. As the late, great philosopher Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” It helps that the cost to create a show is extremely low, especially when compared to movies, TV, or radio. They cost as little or as much as you want to create them, which is great because then you don’t need giant chunks of change to cover production costs. They also allow smaller companies, which may not be able to afford bigger media sources, to advertise within their targeted market.
So, how do I do it? How do I make a podcast?
Well, you need to create an audio file. There are many ways to create a podcast. You can have a smartphone, a webcam with a microphone, or high-end microphones and audio equipment. The gear is only is a part of the final product. I always tell people don’t worry if you don’t have the latest or the greatest. You can still create something unique with the most basic of things. Find your topic. Record what you want to say. It can be scripted or organic. It doesn’t matter! Edit it a little or a lot with free or professional software or applications. From there, all you need to do is decide which platform you want to submit it to and follow their instructions.
A podcast is whatever you want it to be. There are absolutely no rules to dictate what is wrong or right when creating the show you want. So get out there, explore, and, if you want, create one of your own!
Carl & Riley