Because of technological evolution, some of the conventional gadgets are starting to be replaced by their digital counterpart. One of the classic inventions that are being slowly forgotten by today’s generations is the radio. Being that there are so many options when it comes to listening to music or news online, it’s easy to see why this old piece of equipment is seeing less and less use. Another noteworthy factor is the freedom of choosing whatever piece of media you would like to hear by going online, an option that the radio does not have. Although the radio has been around for less than one hundred years, it played a crucial part in developing new forms of entertainment and news broadcasting. Nowadays something as small as our smartphones can provide the same services as a radio, and this has influenced both the news and music industries to move their businesses to the online world.
By definition, a “podcast” or “netcast” refers to a series of digital audio files that can be downloaded and stored for later use. The word “podcast” resulted from the merging of the word “broadcast” with the name of the first media player to support this service – the “iPod”. The main benefit of this form of entertainment is that (in most cases) the production costs are very low, requiring only a recording device, one or more people and a topic of discussion.
The first podcast to become available for online download is presumed to be Matt Schichter’s show called The BackStage Pass, from back in 2003. This recorded radio show represented an interview conducted by Matt with world-renowned guests such as The Beach Boys or B.B. King. One year after that, a news show entitled Daily Source Code was born out of the host’s (Adam Curry) desire to improve the technology behind podcasts. It quickly formed a community of developers who would bring their own contributions to the code behind digital audio recording and converting; it would also help popularize this new format of delivering news or entertainment. As more people were becoming aware of, and interested in, podcasts, the number of radio networks embracing this new idea was increasing.
While the first podcasts were mostly from the radio industry, the phenomenon quickly expanded beyond interviews, music or news, and topics are now as diverse as they can be. Furthermore, authors started recording their novels and stories in the form of audiobooks, either broken down into chapters or in their complete form. The increase in internet speed allowed content creators to also add video images to their podcasts, resulting in the development of platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Video.
The rise in popularity of this form of entertainment has been so successful that nowadays you can encounter a whole variety of different topics stemming from a wide range of domains discussed online. When it comes to sports, events and competitions, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a great number of commentators debating them in the form of podcasts. Media giants like The Guardian or BBC cover most of the important football or basketball games from all around the globe; but due to the high popularity of these sports, a huge number of fans, coaches, players and game commentators are sharing their opinions online as well. Of course, the medium has also reached the world of mind sports, and service providers already have their own podcast discussing games and events. Cinema enthusiasts can tune in to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s podcast to find out all there is to know about new releases from one of the best movie critics in the UK. If you need the motivation to stay in shape, Marathon Talk with Martin Yelling and Tom Williams can give you an extra push to find the strength to get up and start running. These are just a few examples of the great variety of podcasts out there, and, with a bit of research, you can probably find information about even the most obscure topics.
After more than a decade of podcasts gaining in popularity, it is safe to say that now they have become a reliable source of entertainment and news. The competition between hosts will assure that the content will only get better in the future and the standards will go up. Although the commercial radio is rather outdated, some will still prefer the nostalgic feeling of the gadget.