Viva la Podcast Revolution!

“If [Jesus] was alive today he would be a podcaster… his reach would definitely be pushed to the vasectomy giving birth people of Uruguay” Andy Zaltzman, 2014

Radio; remember that old thing? Well it has changed. We have just gone through what Marianne Bouchart calls a “podcast revolution”; radio is in the same situation that print media was in twenty years go. In order to adapt they have done the only reasonable thing, gone digital. Podcasts, think radio meets the personality and storytelling of television.

You actually may have heard of these little things… the format has been around for well over a decade now, but it only really came into its own in the last few years. A highly successful and now a pop culture icon, Serial, is in essence a true story that is told over a season of podcasts. The plot and drama of the characters drive the entire podcast. Now I’m not going to go into too many details… all I’m going to say is: check this out if you enjoy a good tale.

The revolution has brought a whole plethora of content, varying in size, scope, and subject. There’s podcasts reciting the history of Rome, reasons why you’re single, intriguing and thought-provoking essays spoken by famous and respected people, and three idiots sitting in a room riffing off each other.

The significance of the astronomical rise of podcasts falls back to how we see them and how the industry sees them, and the industry is seeing them with big dollar signs in their eyes. Advertisers now see podcasts as an intimate and realistic way of targeting niche groups and previously untapped markets. Kurt Kaufer describes this interesting phenomenon excellently;

“[The emergence of Podcasts] has resulted is an incredibly complex and delicate ecosystem where advertisers are trying to balance reach, awareness, brand integrity, budget, profitability, revenue growth measurement and a litany of other complexities that put pressure on them to always make the right decision in a seemingly zero sum game between competitors.”

The way podcasts are formatted allow for advertisers to have the entire say to a captivate audience. Think about it, when you watch a show on tv there will be plenty of different advertisements, one for the fresh food people, and another for Purina cat food. However, in podcasts there is almost always just one advertiser, or organised by one audio endorsement firm.

Not only do podcasts only push a few items or businesses to the listener, they also do it in such a manner that it seems genuine. Say an advertiser may purchase a 60 second ad space, this ad space can and does extend as the host(s) talk about it. This provides an almost candid reaction of belief from the listeners. Kaufer says this reaction is all par for the course, as the organic nature of the host lets the listener believe them, due to them being exclusive with the product.

These tiny little changes allow podcasts to garner devotion from their viewers. In a study by Edison Research, a surprising result was found. People who listen to podcasts are more than likely to listen to more podcasts each week, resulting a in devoted fanbase that will most likely listen to them, over a quarter of their time are dedicated to listening to podcasts. For a quick and easy webinar on this topic check out the link below.

People who listen to the radio don’t actively listen to it. They listen to it to fill silence and the monotony of life, and the radio and effort that is put into it can be noticed. Listen to any news bulletin, it always seems to drop off towards the end, when the listener has also dropped out of actively participating. “Be careful on the M6, there’s an escaped bison dressed like Ned Kelly armed with a water pistol, and Debby if you’re listening, F**k you,” comedian Andy Zaltzman eloquently put in his 2014 Tedx presentation.

Podcasts, are not old in any respects, well just over ten years, it feels like the notion has been around for much longer. The idea of communicating intimately on a global scale, through the spoken voice, has been thrown around since the 90’s (think being in a globalised world) … pretty much radio but independently produced and intimately spoken.

Costing next to nothing, they can be independently produced and provide the world (potentially) with the hosts opinions on a plethora of topics, from bike building, to the interconnective nature of the Roman people. Everyone has a voice when it comes to the spoken voice, and podcasts are just another form of communicating our voices, our knowledge, and our culture.

Tell me about your opinions on podcasts. Love them, hate them? Don’t forget to scribble your thoughts in the comment section below, and help push your voice on a global scale.

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