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EST. 1915

Podcasts: Talk-Radio Revamped

Nick Swanson


The earliest podcast is credited to the 2003 creation of a platform designed to automate the delivery of verbal content to listeners. In 2004, Adam Curry and Dave Winer wanted to take radio off the air and put it in the public’s pocket. Later that year, The Guardian coined the phrase ‘podcast’ by combining the words iPod and broadcast. In the early years, most podcasts were created by news conglomerates and the shows were designed to allow the listener to catch up on current events and politics without having to sit down and watch the show. As popularity for the medium grew, more and more people decided to create their own podcast. The main reason behind this desire to create and post podcasts is that it is cheap and also an effective way to spread a message to the general populace.

Podcasts are designed to be listened to in the same way as a radio show, but have several key differences. Podcasts are pre-recorded and often edited to be as clear, concise, and entertaining as possible. Podcasts are meant to be downloaded to a personal device, and many platforms do this automatically, so that listeners can enjoy the show at their leisure. The final large difference between a radio show and a podcast is that while radio shows focus on trying to appeal to as many people as possible, most podcasts are designed for a niche audience.

In today’s quickly moving world, the ability to learn about new subjects while driving to work or while getting ready in the morning is a unique benefit this entertainment medium provides. Most podcast listeners fall into one of two categories: those who want to learn about a topic and those who just want to be entertained. There are podcasts on just about any subject imaginable. From sports to finance to making beer, there are shows that deliver all the information the listener needs to know in fifteen to twenty minute intervals. Those who want to be entertained can find shows with celebrity guests or even shows dedicated to reading stories. The main allure is that the listener can start and stop the podcast whenever they want and new episodes come out on a regular basis. While watching the news, reading a book, or learning a new skill takes dedicated focus and can seem daunting to some, podcasts break down the information into digestible bites and can be done without focusing on the show completely.

While many people create podcasts simply out of their enjoyment for the topic, there is another side to these shows that has attracted the more than 550,000 podcasters to the industry: the money. Once a show has gained popularity, it is not hard to make money from the venture. Some podcast platforms allow advertisements between episodes, while other podcasters create sponsored episodes. Sponsored episodes are those in which the host talks about or uses a product during the show and typically gives a discount code that can be used to purchase said product. This is very similar to how radio shows make money as well. Other hosts have set up accounts on websites such as Go Fund Me or Patreon in order to allow donations for continued work. This has allowed people who have very specific interests to talk and learn about these topics and not feel as though they are wasting their time. Even children have started making podcasts and making money from them.

Those interested in listening to podcasts can find them on major platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, or by using podcast specific platforms such as Pocket Casts or Overcast. Start by enjoying a more popular podcast, such as Beyond Today for news and politics, or Full Disclosure for interviews with celebrities, or by simply looking up a favorite topic. Chances are, you will find a podcast to fit your interests!



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