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2 May 2012

It won't save the world, but can it save popular media? I think yes.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I go through phases where what I’m listening to or what I’m watching while I work changes — sometimes it’s podcasts, sometimes it’s early 80s hardcore punk, and sometimes it’s bad horror movies. The constant is noise — I like having something on in the background while I work.

Now, for writing, music tends to work better. I can kind of ignore it, and it’s rare that I’m going to get sucked in to whatever I’m listening to and abandon the work. That’s happened every once in a while while I had on a podcast or a movie, and it’s obviously counterproductive.

But I’ve found recently that if I listen to old podcasts — reruns, essentially — I don’t get as sucked in. I can still sit down and plow through the words (which is kind of the reason the current Tweet_Book has been spotty since my vacation — there’s only so much time in the day, and I have several projects running). I’ve especially been going back to old Nerdist, Smodcast, and Hollywood Babble-On episodes of late.

Something that’s struck me — not in an active way, as I haven’t been really listening, but in a passive way — was just how awesome the idea of podcasting is. Back in the day, you’d need a radio show to get your show out there, and it would be hobbled by broadcast standards, practices, sponsors, and program directors. You’d have to interrupt yourself every few minutes for music, or news and weather breaks. In podcasting, you can drill down and really explore a topic, or, like Smodcast or Nerdist, just ramble and come up with something insanely funny.

Question for the day — do you think mainstream media will ever latch on to the format? Will they just start hiring talented people and letting them roll? Or is the temptation to get a lot of hands in everything too much, and mainstream podcasts (because some exist, and I think more are definitely coming) are going to be as bland, processed, and safe as mainstream radio?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. christophergronlund permalink
    2 May 2012 1037

    The closest with mainstream podcasting I’ve seen is NPR, and they really just roll existing programming into podcast formats for those who like to get things that way (and keep their content accessible). I’m not sure if mainstream media knows what to do with podcasts, because they keep evolving. I listen to the Nerdist, and…I watch Chris Harwick bowl with celebrities on YouTube as well. He’s able to keep doing his thing, and I’m not sure big media is small enough to be that flexible and take those risks.

    I view it kind of like how we have people making millions self publishing genre e-books, but no big literary success with self published e-books. People like my mom, who read that kind of thing (me, too), tend to keep using the method for discovering new work and new books by authors they like that they’ve always used. While I will dig through e-books to find something new, my mom won’t. With radio and mainstream media, the people really consuming it seem to accept that’s how they get their thing. Meanwhile, there are those of us who are already consuming different things through podcasts, vlogs, and other ways.

    The closest thing I’ve seen with mainstream stuff is Netflix streaming and things like that. But I’m not sure you could get my mom or uncle to get hooked on podcasts, just ’cause they are used to TV. (Although my mom LOVES podcasts when I’ve played them for her, and she was right there each week when I podcasted my first novel. Her reply: It reminds me of old serials on the radio from when I was a kid.)

    So hell, looking at it that way, if mainstream media can figure out how to appeal to a nostalgic side, or find a new way to get people hooked…sure, maybe they would latch onto the format. But I don’t see too many execs, who can count on “what is,” jumping to “what could be…”

    Speaking of podcasts…we should do one some day šŸ˜‰

    • 2 May 2012 1055

      The thing about podcasts — you can take those risks, because the cost is so low. That’s why I’m surprised terrestrial radio hasn’t jumped on the idea much — it’s insanely cheap.

      And as for our podcasts… well, I have time this weekend…

      • christophergronlund permalink
        3 May 2012 1200

        That’s why I’m surprised, too (the affordable thing). Totally easy way to test things and then if it hits, bump it onto the air. Or supplement other things the station does. Stations that also do podcasting seem to just offer the content they’re already creating. And that’s cool, but…you interview a band and you get a 30 second clip. Run the whole thing as a podcast. Stuff like that. Let your talent swear and shit if it’s that kind of station and they’re held back by the FCC. When I listened to more radio and was into it, had there been the radio station equivalent of bonus features I could have on an iPod or phone, I would have loved it.

        As far as recording this weekend, I have some video plans and other things, but I will let you know what’s up by tomorrow. Oh, and there’s that Avengers movie my wife kinda wants to see šŸ˜‰

  2. 3 May 2012 2104

    I remember back when I was working at a radio station, and they were freaking out about how satellite and the Internet were taking a chunk out of their listenership. They flirted with HD Radio — on-demand and expanded programming like the stuff you mentioned — when HD Radio was still going to be a thing. I would have loved if they did that kind of thing with podcasts… of course, they didn’t. They just complained about how the Internet and satellite sucked.

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