NEWS ANALYSIS: Podcasting isn't making a comeback. It never went anywhere. It's just back in the spotlight bigger and better than ever.
I know podcasting is experiencing a resurgence because the Internet says so.
The number of blog posts and online articles proclaiming an explosion in the popularity or quality or financial success of podcasts since the fall of 2014 has been really astonishing.
Here's what you need to know about the podcasting resurgence.
1. There really is no podcasting resurgence.
There is no sudden rebound in podcasting. For the past 10 years, the number, quality and audiences for podcasts has been steadily growing in a self-reinforcing cycle. The better they get, the more audiences there are. Bigger audiences inspire more people to get into podcasting. The more people who podcast means there's more competition, so the best get better.
The reason we're hearing about a podcasting resurgence is that the media is self-serving. The mainstream media's impulse is to belittle and minimize alternative media until it gets so big that they start doing it. And when the mainstream media start doing it, they'll tell you it's real now.
In the case of podcasting, they covered it 10 years ago when it was novel and stopped covering it when it became old hat. Now that mainstream journalists are increasingly podcasting, they're covering it again. Ergo, it's "back."
2. Podcasting is exactly like blogging.
It's hard to remember now, but blogging started out as an extremely amateurish medium. Emo teens and wanna-be writers poured their hearts out in personal "Web logs." Over time, the phenomenon grew; some blogs got really good, and nowadays it seems that everyone's got a blog. Some blogs feature some of the best writing anywhere.
The same thing is happening with podcasting. As with blogs, the quality of podcasts now ranges from the most amateurish to the most professional. And the professionals have taken over.
Some of the most popular podcasts come from public radio professionals and, in fact, are just big-budget radio shows distributed as podcasts. The most-talked-about current podcast, "Serial," is a spinoff to a popular public radio series, "This American Life."
In addition to working as a columnist, I'm also a podcaster. I host a daily show called Tech News Today
for the TWiT network. The show is one of 30 or show podcasts broadcast by TWiT, which was founded by longtime radio and TV personality Leo Laporte. In fact, when Laporte launched TWiT some 10 years ago, he was the first mainstream media star to build a profitable company around high-quality video and audio podcasts.
Since the launch of TWiT, a large number of podcasting startups have emerged, and many mainstream broadcasting organizations (and print media organizations, for that matter) have launched serious podcasting efforts.