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Podcast Survivor: The week’s podcasting news

This week I round up the latest podcasting news: Podcast Awards founder defends his methodology; Welcome to Night Vale live performance reviewed; Why no viral podcasts?.

Why doesn’t audio go viral?

Last week public radio journalist Stan Alcorn published a thorough and well-researched article titled “Is Thing On” exploring the question of why internet audio doesn’t seem to go viral and magnetically attract ears the same ways that videos and animated GIFs draw eyeballs. It’s a highly recommended piece for anybody thinking about internet audio and radio.

Alcorn acknowledges “The Podcast Problem,” noting that there’s still not a platform that makes it easier to share episodes. He suggests Soundcloud is viable candidate, even if it’s still more about music than spoken word.

Podcast Awards will remain “People’s Choice”

In the last couple of weeks there’s been some animated discussion on social networks about the results of this year’s Podcast Awards. As I noted in my report, 15 podcasts out of 22 categories were repeat winners, while 9 of those 15 won the same category last year. Some of the online discussion has been around suggestions that the awards move away from a strict “people’s choice” model based on listener votes so as to broaden the base of nominees or winners. One proposal is that the awards might rely on a panel of veteran or “expert” podcasters, like the Grammy’s or Oscar’s.

Last Friday Podcast Awards founder Todd Cochrane posted a response saying that the contest will remain “People’s Choice,” determined by listener votes. He also gave a detailed explanation of the awards’ selection methodology. He wrote, “We have a process that while not perfect is what I came up with to make sure that personal bias / favoritism / cronyism would not interlude (sic).”

He has 48 volunteers assist with sorting through nominees to judge their qualifications with regard to contest rules, and also grade the show by criteria such as relevance of content and quality of sound. The highest weight goes to the number of nominations a podcast received. Then the public votes on the winners from amongst the nominees. As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a popular vote methodology, and the Podcast Awards methodology seems to measure up to Cochrane’s objectives.

Welcome to Night Vale’s Live Show Is Way Better than Hearing about Stamps.com

Portland Mercury writer Joe Streckert reviews the live performance of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast this past Saturday and determines that fundraising through a tour is better than making listeners sit through Stamps.com and Audible ads. He observes that “The live show they’ve created wouldn’t actually work as a podcast,” though perhaps that’s the point of doing a live show.

Streckert also recently interviewed Night Vale producers Joseph Fink and Cecil Baldwin. Baldwin tells him, “We continue to work on this podcast as if there are only 50 people listening… That’s the best way we know to make a solid artistic product.”

We cover podcasting news and analysis every Wednesday in our Podcast Survivor feature.


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