Podcast

20 years ago today, the word “podcast” was born. Maybe.

We’ve been listening to podcasts for longer than 20 years, but it was two decades ago today that the word was first formally used to describe this sort of on-demand audio news and entertainment. This, however, requires some unpackaing.

According to Podnews, “audio referenced by an enclosure tag in an RSS feed” was first published on January 20, 2021 with a pioneer named Dave Winer putting a Grateful Dead song in a post. In other words, this “podcast” was a song.

On July 9, 203, the “first ever original piece of audio referenced by an enclosure tag in an RSS feed” happened on July 9, 2003. Take a listen.

The thing here, though, is that no one called this new form of communication a “podcast.” While people were debating this, more audio was being created. But on February 12, 2004, British writer Ben Hammersley was exploring the new medium. Twenty years go today, he wrote this in The Guardian: “What to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?” This appears to be the first time we saw the term “podcasting” in print.

Despite some pushback–there was a campaign to call this new thing “netcasting”–we all gravitates to “podcast.” Why? Hammersley admits to not giving it much thought. He remembers “It’s a dumb thing I made up in about 5 seconds while trying to pad that article out to make it fit the page, very close to deadline.”

His inspiration? The iPod. The iPod was the shiny new thing that consumers were adopting at a furious rate–and they were using iPods to listen to these “audioblogs” (or whatever) on the iPod platform. Pod + [broad]cast = Podcast. From that point on, the term caught on. By the end of 2004, it was the dominate descriptor.

Read the whole story of the word “podcast” here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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