Can podcasting save the world?
As writers resort to attention-getting headlines to take care of readership it’s clear that the educated, cell, and bored reader is now turning right into a listener. Whereas written information continues to flood us from each conceivable angle there may be one small, quiet voice nonetheless talking to us from our earbuds: the podcaster talking fact to energy, bullshitting about films, or spinning lengthy narrative threads about useless males and their gold.
First, let’s all agree that podcasting is getting massive. As soon as the area of newbie mumblers who spoke at size about laptop computer specs or chemtrails, podcasting has change into massive enterprise and listeners are paying consideration. I posit that podcasting has change into the default technique for consuming longform journalism and commentary and that ought to give writers and journalists pause.
Some numbers: Previously six years podcast listenership has risen 13% from 23% to 36% of People aged 12 and up. The variety of podcasts hosted on Libsyn rose from 12,000 in 2012 to 28,000 in 2016. WNYC raised $15 million to create a brand new “podcast division.” A brand new podcast, one which particulars the life and occasions of an eccentric Southern clockmaker, achieved blockbuster standing, grabbing 1.eight million subscribers since launch.
Once more, these numbers pale compared to the budgets of cable TV and Web. This web site alone has eight million followers on Twitter and does 1.eight million pageviews in a number of hours. The written phrase, nevertheless, turns into far much less attention-grabbing in locations the place schooling is valued however the time and focus essential to devour longform writing is missing. A sysadmin I do know listens to a whole lot of podcasts on his day by day walks to and from work. Numerous long-distance commuters plug in a podcast for the journey from Circleville to Columbus or Bucks County to Manhattan. Podcasting is the brand new discuss radio and it skews, not less than within the classes we will measure, towards the general public radio listener.
Spoken phrase has lengthy been in a doldrum however that’s altering. Whereas discuss radio appeals to sports activities followers and child boomers it by no means appealed to the lengthy kind reader. Podcasts, nevertheless, have begun the sluggish means of changing the written phrase. A few of the greatest non-fiction out there may be showing on reveals like This American Life and Serial and it’s clear that on-demand audio, like on-demand video earlier than it, is the “subsequent massive factor.”
Now again to my hyperbolic title – can podcasting actually save the world? First, now we have to imagine that the world desires lengthy kind writing on the Web. I feel that is true. We love tales and consuming these tales in audio format is a real deal with. It lets us devour lengthy kind content material with out the related prices of studying, prices that, whereas minimal, nonetheless require time and a spotlight.
Second, now we have to imagine that podcasts are getting higher. The numbers bear this out. Whereas most of Libsyn’s podcasts, I’m assuming, aren’t on par with in-depth analyses like Radiolab or Serial we will assume that not less than a number of of these podcasts – Hardcore Historical past and A Historical past of the World in 100 Objects spring to thoughts – have a number of hundreds of downloads and are designed for the cautious, curious listener.
Due to this fact we’re getting wonderful content material without cost through podcasting and any time that occurs somebody will get damage. When blogs began producing acceptably readable facsimiles of newspaper studies they supplanted newspapers. As soon as web sites and boards might overview merchandise higher than laptop magazines the magazines died. Podcasting will change the world by bringing us again to literary non-fiction and encourage contemplative, not consumptive, fashions of media.
If I have been within the betting recreation I’d say that podcasts will rise in recognition as tv and radio wane. Information, commentary, and histories work fairly effectively within the podcasting medium. You possibly can simply seize a day by day information rundown and take heed to it at your leisure simply as you’ll be able to simply obtain the perfect of the podcasting world for sluggish, cautious consideration. Whereas tv and radio are thought of finite assets by the oldsters who preserve them there could be a podcast for each thoughts. Why take heed to Howard Stern for hours when you’ll be able to pay attention to a few podcasts which are equally raunchy and, presumably, get extra out of the method?
We have now no time to learn. We do have time to take heed to podcasts. Once more, if I have been within the betting recreation I might wager that podcasts are solely going to get extra widespread and if I have been moving into media I’d discover ways to make and promote them. It’s uncommon that one thing blossoms so wildly proper beneath our noses. It might assist us to concentrate.