in Tech

Podcast Renaissance

ren·ais·sance (rĕn′ĭ-säns′, -zäns′, rĭ-nā′səns)
1. A rebirth or revival.
2. A situation or period of time when there is a new interest in something that has not been popular in a long time.

Podcasts have been around for years. I never really had a particular interest in them. I mean, it’s literally an MP3 of people talking. How hard is that? That can’t be very interesting. So in my memory, podcasts went as quickly as they came. But in fact, they never went away.
Instead, there is an entire online subculture where podcast quality and interest in podcasts is steadily growing. And so this year a funny thing happened; there were several occasions where people started pointing me to interesting podcasts. When things like that happen, I take notice. And over the last months podcasts have become a very rich and enjoyable medium for me (more on that in a later post).

Maybe I have been living under a rock, and you have always been aware of podcasts and their value. And I was just blind. But I don’t think that is the case. It seems podcasts are becoming increasingly more popular. And it feels as if we are entering an age of podcast renaissance and “Big Money” is coming.

Of course Marco Arment is one of the most well-known podcasters. He produces several podcasts and is pushing the medium forward by creating a podcast app: Overcast.

Although this is a general consensus in his show, shared by other well known podcasters, you don’t have to take his word for it. Because there are other signs too. These are things I noticed:

  • The Serial podcast from 2014 really broke new ground in what the medium can do. This is also one of the podcasts people kept pointing me to. I think Serial opened up the world of podcasting for a lot of people.
  • Mainstream media like SNL are doing skits about podcasts.
  •, the well-known platform for inspiring talks are inviting podcasters to do a live recording of a podcast in front of an audience, that they film (?) an put online.
  • Established authorities like McKinsey are starting new podcasts.
  • New podcast networks like RelayFM (from 2014) keep adding more and more quality shows and developing a business model around podcasting.
  • Sites like Podcast Chart are started.

So things are brewing at the surface. And there is a sense that things might change real soon. And I’m curious to see what happens.

Of course one of the great things of podcasting is that it is a completely decentralized medium. You can grab your podcast straight from a website or from Soundcloud, or via RSS, or the iPhone app, or the Overcast app or maybe someone sends you a Dropbox link. It’s just an MP3 right? Nobody owns podcasts or podcasting.

So it’s definitely not like YouTube where the vlogging revolution started, with everything in one place. So it will be interesting to see where this can go. Can a decentralized medium really take off or are we already at peak-podcast?

(In my next post I will discuss what’s to like about podcasts and which are my favorite ones.)

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