Podcasting is a fertile new landscape in radio and audio media, which is why we’ve covered it here at Radio Survivor. Starting with this post we’re stepping up our coverage. I’ll be writing about podcasting every Wednesday for our new Podcast Survivor feature. Lucky for me, this first week the web has already been pretty full of writing and reflecting about podcasting.
App developer and blogger Allen Pike published a piece on Monday charting the Fall and Rise of Podcasting. He observes that the fall coincided with the end of Odeo in 2007. Odeo was a web podcasting platform that just happened to be the first product created by the team that went on to make a little thing called Twitter.
Pike says the subsequent rise was sparked as tech podcasters “like Dan Benjamin, John Gruber, and Merlin Mann were bailing in,” while at the same time “the startup echo-chamber was bailing out of the podcast world.” The rise was aided, he argues, by the influx of advertising money from forward-looking companies like web host Squarespace and domain registrar Hover.
Yet, despite their growing popularity, it’s still hard to find new podcasts. That’s according to a Mashable piece written by Scott Pham, digital content editor for public station KBIA, posted Tuesday. In exploring the problem of discovering fresh shows Pham highlights a new podcast recommendation site called Podcast Thing, curated by Cards Against Humanity creator Max Temkin and artist Veronica Corzo-Duchardt. Although I must note that their recommendations don’t stray too far from well-known ’casts produced by prominent podcast networks or those that tend to top the iTunes and Stitcher charts.
Both Pham and Pike cite a promised new podcast app for iOS called Overcast from Instapaper creator and podcaster Marco Arment. At the same time Arment himself takes slight issue with Pike, saying, “podcasting never really ‘fell.’ The mid–2000s hype around it certainly did, but it was mostly limited to a handful of west-coast startups and investors in the first place…. the medium has mostly grown slowly and steadily.” I agree quite heartily with this point.
With the proliferation of well-produced podcasts and revived popular attention to the form, there is still a marked lack of coverage and analysis of podcasting, as a medium and, crucially, as a business. Even though I think radio is woefully under-covered these days, there are nevertheless a handful of industry publications and websites dedicated to it. By comparison, there’s just a little bit of coverage of podcasting personalities and a weekly podcast about podcasting, but otherwise next to no regular reporting on the business of podcasting.
That’s why I am grateful to Pham for referencing an interview with This American Life producer Ira Glass conducted by Michael Wolf of NextMarket Insights. It turns out that Wolf has shared the audio from a series of interviews with influential people in the podcast world that he did for a piece in Forbes back in April.
I don’t know how I missed this story when it first published, but I’m glad I found it and Wolf’s own podcast. This article is the best report on the business and organizational side of podcasting I’ve encountered. More importantly, I was excited to learn that because his interview recordings have been so popular, Wolf has continued to interview podcast folks for what he calls the Podcast Project.
To get the overview listen to Wolf’s “Podumentary” that he produced as a companion to the Forbes article. Just after reviewing the “Podumentary” I then listened to the interviews with Glass, SoundCloud content manager Jim Colgan and Dan Benjamin from the 5by5 podcast network, only stopping so I could finish working on this post. (Believe me, I’ll be diving back in as soon as I can.)
This sort of reporting and documenting is critical if podcasting is going to mature as a medium. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, podcasters gotta eat, and that only becomes more likely when podcasting is taken as seriously as Pandora, Spotify and old fashioned radio. I hope to contribute to this effort.
We cover podcasting news and analysis every Wednesday in our Podcast Survivor feature.
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