Happy belated birthday to podcasting! According to a recent Guardian article written by the creators of UK podcast Answer Me This! the very term “podcast” was born on February 11, 2004, in a piece by journalist Ben Hammersley. That makes podcasting, as a thing, a little more than 10 years and 1 month old.
In their Guardian article producers Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann tick off some of the key moments in podcasting’s first decade. They include Apple adding a podcast directory to the iTunes store in June 2005 and This American Life adding a downloadable podcast feed of the show in October 2006.
Zaltzman and Mann also have produced a two-part documentary on podcasting for BBC Radio 4. The first episode airs this Friday, April 4 at 11:00 AM GMT. The live stream of BBC Radio 4 is generally available worldwide, and many shows are archived online. So there’s a good chance the doc will be available to listeners outside the UK.
This American Life Considers Self-Distribution
Speaking of This American Life, as I noted last week the show is parting ways from Public Radio International on July 1. This has sparked speculation about the tactic Ira Glass and colleagues will choose in distributing TAL, especially since the program has a significant podcast following in addition to its broadcast audience.
In an email to the New York Times last Friday Glass said "self-distribution continues to be an option, and we’ve been looking at what that would mean in a more serious way.” As Times writer Elizabeth Jensen notes, this would require the program’s staff to figure out how to handle billing affiliate stations, a service that PRI and other distributors typically provide.
The show has handled its own online streaming and podcast distribution. So, presumably it already has financial operations in place for online-only advertisements and listener donations. A distributor that can combine this with station relations might be attractive. However, bringing everything in-house might allow the show to keep more of its affiliates fees, otherwise shared with a distributor.
The American Life might have the opportunity to forge a new model for independent public radio production and distribution, bolstered by successful podcasts and online streams. The path Glass and company take will definitely have implications for the future of podcasting and its relationship to public radio.