Podcasting is going to be Big. Right?
Right. That’s what we podcasters have been telling ourselves ever since I learned what a podcast is nearly a decade ago. At Blogs ‘N’ Dogs, a whacky and wonderful conference in Banff that combined blogging workshops with frigid rides on dogsleds, I saw a guy interviewing people at a party with a tiny recorder. I asked him what he was doing.
“Podcasting,” Roland Tanglao said. Huh?
Roland explained the basics, and by the time I’d had my dogsled ride I was a podcaster. I recorded an audio snippet in my hotel room and posted it somewhere, probably at Eric Rice’s erstwhile HipCast site. I returned to the States lit up with the possibilities of this new media platform. I created a video podcast, named, as I remember, the Mile High Pod Chronicles, and an audio feed, the Audio Pod Chronicles. The “chronicles” name came from a series of travel journals I had shared with friends and family by e-mail, starting with “Chronicles of the Mouse,” created during a family trip to Disney World.
This was in October, 2005, two years before the original Kindle arrived. By July of 2008 I was an avid Kindle fan, and I knew how to put up a decent audio podcast. That led to creation of The Kindle Chronicles, the Friday podcast all about your Kindle, now approaching episode number 350.
Looking back over this decade of my participation in podcasting, I seem to remember someone somewhere announcing that Podcasting is Going to Be Big every single year. I believed it, because I loved listening to and creating podcasts, and it’s easy to assume lots of other people share your passions. Instead, the growth of the podcasting audience has been stately, not meteoric, to the point where iTunes last fall passed the 1 billion mark in total cummulative podcast subscriptions, according to a story in The Washington Post.
Edison Resarch in a U.S. survey done in May of 2014 found that the share of time spent listening to podcasts was 25.9 percent of all audio sources, just behind AM/FM radio at 27.5 percent. The other big shares were owned music, 22.3 percent, and Internet-only music and radio, 10.6 percent. (See this excellent article by Anne Friedman in the Columbia Journalism Review for more.)
Last year at New Media Expo, the annual gathering of the podclan in Las Vegas, we heard convincing predictions of Bigness. One I remember was about how podcasts are being gathered into networks in a way similar to the way radio networks were assembled leading to the Golden Age of Radio.
I’m sure podcasting is indeed growing as a media platform, but I don’t care as much as I used to about rosy predictions. I just love putting a weekly show together. I have met amazing people as interview guests and listeners. I have attended press events for new Kindle devices. I have not come close to breaking even in financial terms, but I have created a front row seat on the eBook Revolution and have happily sat in it and watched history unfold for nearly seven years.
Tomorrow I will fly to Las Vegas to learn new tricks, meet new people, and get another dose of passionate engagement.
Here, mainly as a reminder to myself, are things I want to accomplish at New Media Expo this week:
- An action checklist for renaming my show The Reading Edge. I want to learn how to do this with a minimum of disruption and confusion for my listeners.
- Find an audio editing tool or process that streamlines the deletion of ums and ahs from the audio of my guests, and me.
- Solicit advice and tips about podcast sponsorship that will guide me in discussions I have begun with a publisher interested in partnering with my show.
- Learn at least three pro tips from fellow interviewers about how to improve the 20-minute recorded conversation I have each week.
- Stop by the Libsyn booth to personally thank Rob Walch, Elsie Escobar and the rest of the team for the rock-solid service Libsyn has provided for my show ever since episode 1.
- Find at least two podcasts I don’t know about yet that cover topics similar or related to mine. This probably means shows related to eBooks, authors, digital publishing, and eReaders. But I will be open to surprises. There may be someone podcasting about needlepoint who has a similar interview format, or a shared sensibility and voice. I would love to find someone doing a Kobo podcast, just to see what’s up with the only viable rival to Kindle.
- Meet and learn from someone at Apple who works on the iTunes Directory, the mother lode for podcast discovery.
- Avoid expensive new gadget infatuations. I have a terrific microphone, the Yeti by Blue, and a decent portable recorder, the Zoom H1. I don’t need to spend hundreds more dollars on new stuff. But I probably will.
- Put together 44 minutes and 58 seconds of terrific content at NMX, a collage of shorter interviews that will give my listeners a chance to experience and learn from the gathering in my next episode.
- Create and upload TKC 350 from my room at the conference hotel well before checkout time on Friday, April 17th.
- Help three new podcasters get started, sharing my experience and passion.
- Eat sensibly, drink lots of water, and get enough sleep.
As I prepare that To Do list for NMX I realize that podcasting is already Big in my life. To see how much fun I’m having, I hope you will check out the show notes page and have a listen. And if you are already a regular listener, thanks for making this adventure such a consistent and deeply rewarding project!