March 15, 2013
(Photo: M Keefe, Creative Commons license)
Earlier today I was going back and forth on email with a professional contact and friend about the radio entries in a journalism competition we were both connected to. The topic started out being about the dearth of entries in the radio category, which was disappointing, but then the discussion moved on to podcasting and whether podcasts were permitted to be entrants in this particular competition (they were). I know the question of podcasting's popularity, or lack thereof, has come up in other forums, but I wanted to raise it here because I was struck by this journalist's perspective. She was discussing 'online audio' as a term to use instead of 'podcast', referring to 'the brief podcast craze', and saying use of the term 'podcast' had been thought not to be a good idea as it was 'a trendy term' that 'could quickly become dated'. She said 'online audio' described what was meant 'without using the jargon of the moment'. (Am I speaking from my ivory audio tower, or is the moment still with us?)
She also mentioned she felt podcasts were less popular today than they were a few years ago because everyone is flocking to video thanks to higher connection speeds, 'and the big media companies are investing in online video.' The video entrants for this competition just keep coming.
I want to pose some questions in the hope others will weigh in with their opinions below.
- How do you feel about the term 'online audio' rather than 'podcast'? To me, a radio reporter and audiophile, 'podcast' never went out of fashion and is the accepted way to talk about an audio show that is produced for consumption away from the actual airwaves. At one point I experimented with using the words 'online audio show' on The Broad Experience website, but the term seemed awkward and just never sat well with me so I took those words out and re-wrote 'podcast'. I know from Edison Research's latest report on podcasting that only about 45 percent of Americans are familiar with the term. Still, that's a lot of people.
- I realize online video appeals to a mass audience, whereas audio does not. As my former Marketplace colleage and host of the wonderful podcast The Memory Palace, Nate DiMeo, once said, 'audio never goes viral'. OK, occasionally. But not often. Video goes viral all the time. I am aware that within 'elite' audiences, such as public radio listeners and Slate readers, podcasting is popular and becoming more so. But what do you make of the fact that a chunk of the news-aware public, including journalists, apparently feel it's basically had its day?