Embrace, rather than dismiss, the rocketing popularity of the podcast

PUBLISHED: 20:36 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 20:51 07 February 2019

Podcasts can be recorded at little expense and can feature content that wouldn't normally appear on mainstream radio stations

Podcasts can be recorded at little expense and can feature content that wouldn't normally appear on mainstream radio stations

Antonio Diaz

Radio presenter Nick Conrad might be in fear of the rise of podcasts - but far from it. He says it’s time to embrace the rapidly rising popularity of this alternative broadcasting format

Chris Reeve of the podcast Talk Norwich CityChris Reeve of the podcast Talk Norwich City

These punchy short blasts of audio offer a platform for the type of conversations which would never make it onto conventional radio programmes. Swinging, nudity, erotic literature sits alongside politics, economics and sport. Some have suggested it’s perverse...I rather use the term diverse.

In conventional media we can learn from our podcasting colleagues. The audience want real, gritty, experience-led presentation. Long gone are the days of smooth, cheesy ‘lifestyle’ chat. Pods hyper-focus on their subject, ensuring the global audience gets a concentrated ‘hit’ of what they want to hear.

Earlier this week I was invited as a guest onto one of my favourite podcasts. Talk Norwich City is the idea of Jack and Chris Reeve. These boys have been super-successful with their mix of Canaries-related banter. Usually, when giving interviews in radio or TV studios, guests are placed in front of expensive cameras or audio equipment. Assistants serve you hot coffee whilst you are prepared with either a makeup brush or a technical operator helping you with headphones. The world of podcasting is refreshingly less ‘glamorous.’

I parked up at Chris’s house, a tidy mid-terrace on a new estate on the outskirts of Norwich. To my surprise he invites me upstairs – my ‘starring’ appearance is to take place in his bedroom! So, no green room here, but the refreshingly down-to-earth domestic setting and a warm mug of tea presented to me. The ‘studio’ is a single camera on a tripod, a large photographers’ light and clip-on mics. Canaries star Onel Hernandez would love this, this really is the kind of stuff you could buy at Argos!

The boys proceed with their cleverly constructed cocktail of Canaries chat. The podcast is accompanied by a Vodcast (video) meaning users can confirm I really do have a face for radio. So, who is watching this? Thousands. From my brother in London to a friend in Australia... fans love Talk Norwich City, The Pink’Un Podcast etc. The boys’ passion for all things yellow & green mirrors their enthusiasm and mimics the exact same conversations you’d have with mates pre-game.

In the week where Facebook celebrated its 15th birthday, thoughts have turned to how media platforms are changing. In hindsight, media technology’s development was sluggish up to the explosion of the internet. Then the possibilities exploded because we could all create our own content. This rapid change has ignited a creative and cultural explosion. Not entirely positive; however, the ability for ‘Joe public’ to inhabit a platform where their raw unedited voice could be heard has reshaped the media industry.

The BBC is getting in on the act with stacks of new programmes being released online rather than on conventional radio and TV. Other mega media institutions have followed suit, but it’s the ‘accidental’ success stories which are the real stars of the genre. Who would have predicted that My Dad Wrote A Porno would be such a big hit? Just glance at the past 12 months - over 525,000 active podcasts, 18.5 million episodes produced, 26% of the population downloading podcasts. Podcasts are amongst the most prominent cultural phenomenon in the past decade or so.

Podcasts allow us to hear powerful stories which we can connect with.

They stimulate our imagination, profiling a range of new topics. The richness of the human experience is at our fingertips.

And yes, podcasts could be seen as a threat to conventional radio however we should embrace them.

In my mind you’ll never beat live broadcasting, the immediacy of news.

That said, podcasts offer a liberated platform which only enhances our understanding of how our world, and its varied people work and think.

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