This Could Be the Future of Podcasting

I regularly listen to four different podcasts every week. They keep me company when I’m driving, running, walking the dog, working in the backyard or cleaning the garage. I’m totally hooked on the medium. And finally, podcasting is entering the mainstream. This comes from Stratechery:


I like driving, even if I end up sitting in traffic. I enjoy doing the laundry, and take my time folding shirts just so. I volunteer to wash the dishes. After all, each of these activities is an excuse to listen to more podcasts.

I’ve been listening to podcasts for over a decade now; I don’t remember exactly when I got started but it was around the time that Apple Took Podcasting Mainstream: that’s from the title of the press release announcing iTunes support for podcasts in 2005. Given that most podcasts were listened to on iPods (thus the name) that already synced with iTunes, Apple’s move dramatically simplified the distribution of podcasts: simply click a button in the music management app you already used, hook up the iPod as you already did, and voilà! New podcasts ready to be listened to in the car (via your cassette tape adaptor), while doing laundry, washing the dishes, etc. It was great!

It also was not in the slightest bit mainstream: according to Edison Research, in 2006 only 22% of Americans were even familiar with the term “podcasting”, and only 11% had ever listened to one. Both numbers have slowly but steadily grown over the years (55% have heard of podcasting as of this year, and 36% have listened to one, and there actually isn’t a readily apparent ‘Serial’ bump), aided in large part by the smartphone: by removing the need to sync with iTunes it was much easier to have fresh podcasts at the ready. Still, there remained the challenge of creating compelling content, discovering content worth listening to, retaining listeners and, of course, paying for it all.

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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 37907 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “This Could Be the Future of Podcasting

  • I used to listen religiously to a great podcast called Geeks &Beats, until they decided to walk out of the room and turn off the lights without notice or at least a last farewell episode for the fans. Just haven’t had the enthusiasm to get involved in any other podcasts since.

  • I’m an Overcast devotee, ever since Apple made the native podcast app completely unusable, and I certainly hope Marco can stay in the game with this new development. I can’t see moving to Stitcher (which I tried at one point but hated, interface-wise), and would probably just stop listening to any content that went “exclusive”.

    I could see something like an arrangement that they’re doing with the NPROne app – They will periodically make certain episodes of popular shows available a day or two early on the app, as a way to entice people to check out the app, before releasing the show to the “general” public. That could be one advantage.

    Another might be backlogs/archives – I don’t know if it still works this way since he went to Midroll, but Maron at WTF only puts a certain number of episodes in his feed – if you want anything older, you had to buy his premium app for content (and even NPR shows like This American Life do something similar – recent shows are available to download for free, but you have to go online and buy old episodes) – streamlining that process within a single app may be a way to monetize things without too much pain to daily listeners.

  • As usual- middlemen trying to figure out how to get a slice of the pie.


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