Podcasts becoming the newest digital media darling

Podcasts, it seems, are where it’s at.

In a recent post, I snarked on the StartUp podcast, which detailed one man’s attempt to launch a podcast network.

Apparently, he’s not alone.microphone

Fast Company’s App Economy blog outlines the rapid growth of podcast networks, and suggests profitability (digital media’s holy grail) is not far behind:

The StartUp guys aren’t alone in thinking there’s “massive” money to be made in podcasting of this ilk. In the last six months, three podcast networks have popped up, from established public radio players: Infinite Guest from American Public Media, SoundWorks from PRI, and Radiotopia from PRX. Meanwhile WNYC has added more podcasts to its roster of shows, which includes the beloved, and very popular, Radiolab. This American Life, the radio show, is now spawning a podcast called Serial. Online print media has also gotten the message: Slate has doubled its podcast output in the last two years.

And podcasts of all types have been on the up and up: According to the Washington Post, podcast downloads passed 1 billion mark last year and monthly podcast listeners number 75 million per month.

Given the explosion in popularity of the Serial podcast (itself a spinoff of the hugely popular This American Life podcast/radio show), and what we have is a genuine phenomenon.

Driving all this interest — at least according to every article I’ve read — is the notion that radio is going away, and something is going to replace it. Might as well be podcasts.

I’m not sure I wholly buy that.

I think Podcasts are on the rise not because of radio’s demise, but because they represent the¬†ressurection of long-form reportage — the kind of journalism whose death has been forecast repeatedly.

I love print, but there is something deeply intimate about a good audio recording.

Keep in mind these aren’t your garden-variety, two-guys talking podcasts. They’re deeply investigated, beautifully reported, and sometimes eerily edited.

The real thing.

We’re also seeing a resurgence (I think) in the written long-form journalism, but I wonder if the future of the form won’t be found in streaming audio.

Although I recently hit a patch of video work, I haven’t done much in the audio world (OK, a few radio spots decades ago). But it interests me.

It’s not as if I need another learning experience piled atop my already chaotic, two-tiny-daughters life. But then, you know the rule: Stop learning, start dying.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.

A Handful of Podcast Links