Technology presumes there’s just one right way to do things and there never is – Robert M. Pirsi

2005 was the year of hype for tools like blogs and podcasts. 2006 will be the year to see if either of them live up to their billing. Of the pair, I’m not so sure that podcasting will be as revolutionary as it was hoped.

For those unfamiliar with podcasts, they are downloadable audio programmes, radio-on-demand as it were. Radio stations have already begun offering their shows to download so listeners can download them at their leisure and tune in whenever suits them. NewsTalk 106 is my favourite Irish radio station and I was very excited when they started to offer podcasts, but to be honest I’ve never bothered subscribing to them. I simply don’t have the time to listen to them.

As an iPod owner, a heavy Internet user and someone who evangalises about Social Media, I’d have to admit that it’s slightly worrying that I’m not tuning in. If I’m not, then who is? From conversations with others, I know I’m not the only one. I still listen to the radio the exact same way as before, so do radio stations really have anything to worry about?

Podcasts still are a great communications tool, albeit for a targeted audience. IBM’s use of podcasts for internal communications has proved to be highly successful and specialised programming like the ‘For Immediate Release – The Hobson & Holtz Report’ for Public Relations practitioners is a wonderful niche product. Above all, the small costs involved in producing and distributing these audio programmes is their real selling point.

It will be interesting to see which organisations begin to produce innovative podcasts in order to connnect with audiences across the globe. Whether it’s audio tours for museums or excercise tips for the gym, there’s plenty of scope out there to come up with innovative communications strategies. Seriously, what company would ever say that they don’t want to be on iTunes? I just don’t think that podcasts will threaten traditional radio stations.

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6 Responses to “Podcasting – revolutionary or just the same old wheel turning?”  

  1. 1 Adam

    Podcasting has certainly failed to light up, but I don’t think it was ever going to, it’s either going to be something the hardcore end up using (like ham radio!) or else something that slots in place next to traditional radio, it was never likely to replace it or do it any real harm.
    I’ve written about it in my blog, after reading yours. I personally see a lot of potential if traditional radio uses podcasting properly. If a presenter can offer a podcast as something extra to his regular show (like a bonus content download of sorts), then people will go and search for it after they listen to the normal radio show. If every radio listener gets to know what a podcast is, then it will quickly benefit small-time casters too.
    One example; when I was trying to get guests for my Irish Media podcast a few months back (which is on hiatus now), I rang up Village magazine in an attempt to get Vincent Browne on board. I spoke to someone in the office who was going to take a message for me, and I told them what it was I was ringing in relation to. Once I said it was for a podcast, they were lost. Once I described it to them they were intruiged. I Podcasting isn’t anywhere near as well known as blogging, maybe because it isn’t quite as easy to pick up and put down. If this guy had heard The Strawberry Alarmclock talking about an extra Matt Molloy prank that you could download from iTunes, he’d know what I was talking about much quicker.
    I always felt that when dealing with non-techy people (so people I got in contact with through traditional publications, for example) I was alienating them with the term podcasting. They didn’t realise it was essensially a radio interview I was looking for, but for the internet.

  2. 2 Piaras

    Great post Adam, your example of Ricky Gervais’ podcasts really works well. People will only download podcasts if they’re not available anywhere or if they missed them previously.

  3. 3 Stephen

    I’ve never thought podcasts would challenge traditional radio. Radio is far too available – it’s in our cars, built into music systems and available on digital TV. It’s easy to listen in when we like and without thinking about it. And let’s be honest, radio plays better music than you’d ever find on a pod safe podcast IMO.

    But podcasting is great for niche topics and interests like you said. Taking your example, For Immediate Release – that’s a great podcast for me personally (and no doubt you enjoy it also) so I don’t mind making the ‘effort’ to listen to it.

    What I think might throw things up in the air a bit, if Apple produced an iPod with a high speed internet connection. Imagine if you could just stream a podcast or a vlog straight to your iPod without going through the usual process of downloading to your computer and then synching to your iPod.

    This would take away the *extra work* that non technical consumers don’t want to (or can’t) do.

  4. 4 Adam

    An mp3 player with internet connectivity is a likely step forward, and one that Apple could make even more money from (imagine hearing a song in a shop, taking your ipod out of your pocket and downloading it from the music store straight to your player, because you have your account details logged in from your computer?)
    Of course it would also be difficult to pull off considering the current design of ipods, searching would be very difficult and the screen would be too small to use the same layout as the itunes music store. Podcasts could be easily dealt with though, your computer could tell your ipod what podcasts you subscribe to and then you just select the ‘update now’ option on the ipod and it seaches for an AP.
    The PSP and DS have shown how easy it is to put wifi capability into something small and portable, so why not?

  5. 5 Bernie Goldbach

    I’m reading people who now use TiVo to download and run podcasts. It’s as effective a time-shifting activity as using TiVo to cache television shows. But if you’re not tuned into spoken commentary as part of your media mix, you will live well clear of the island of podcasts that are springing up in many languages. I think the trend line points upwards for the frequency and increased choice of yet-another-citizen-media form. That doesn’t mean it will displace radio. In my realm, it’s a lovely complement to the licensed spectrum.

  1. 1 Adam Maguire’s Blog » Where now for podcasting?

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