02 Sep Can you hear me now? I'm podcasting
With a little bit of effort and a microphone, you can use podcasting to talk with millions of people. They key is creating something that is worth listening to.
The term “podcasting” surfaced in 2004 when early-adopters combined the words “iPod” and “broadcasting.” Podcast listeners typically download audio files in MP3 format onto a computer and transfer the files to their MP3 players. The advantage of podcasting over streaming media is its portability.
Podcasting enables independent content producers to create self-published, syndicated “radio shows” on virtually any topic and make them available to millions of potential “on-demand” listeners. Podcasts are subscription based, allowing users to automatically download new episodes as they become available.
A recent phone survey of adults over the age of 18 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that more than 22 million American adults own iPods or MP3 players; 29% of them (almost 6.5 million) have downloaded podcasts from the Web so that they could listen to audio files at a time of their choosing.
According to the survey: 13% of men have MP3 players, compared to 9% of women; 19% of those ages 18-28 have MP3 players; 14% of those ages 29-40 have them; 14% of Internet users have MP3 players, compared to 3% of non-Internet users. The survey showed that there is no notable gap between those who have broadband access and dial-up users when it comes to podcasting.
In 2004, podcasting was viewed as an “independent” media source. In 2005, it’s mainstream. National Public Radio has recently jumped into podcasting, introducing a directory with 130 public radio podcasts. The service is in beta, but already represents a strong commitment toward podcasting. Featured podcasts include Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know?, NPR’s daily news summaries, and topical podcasts on books, health and science and music.
Since podcasting features are built into Apple’s I-tunes software, independent podcasts now appear in the Apple Music store next to podcasts from Major ESPN, Disney, Fox and others.
If you’re interested in podcasting your own content, There are several websites that can teach you the basic mechanics of recording and distributing a podcast. However, be aware that a good podcast is harder to maintain than a blog. And, like blogs, they are prone to abandonment, obscurity, and failure.
To ensure success, consider these recommendations:
Be prepared — Podcasting can be done on a shoestring. That doesn’t mean it should be done without preparation. Get a good microphone and headset and some decent audio editing software such as Garage Band (Mac) or Sound Forge (PC). A good microphone and headset will reduce ambient, environmental noise. Good editing software will allow you to record the program in segments and mix them together with audio from other sources.
Be passionate — Podcasting an active medium. Individuals select the podcasts they want to listen to based on their interests. They expect podcasts to be on-topic and podcasting hosts to be passionate about the topics they discuss. If you choose to podcast, select a topic that interests you and that is likely to attract listeners with the same interest.
Be personal — Podcasting engages listeners on a one-to-one level. Listeners imagine what podcasters are talking about throughout the podcast. Radio broadcasters call this “the theatre of the mind.” Take advantage of your one-on-one relationship by challenging listeners to interact with you on a personal level. Some of the most popular independent podcasts achieved their fame by inviting listeners to participate by email or telephone.
Be consistent — The content, duration and format your podcast needs to be consistent. Although these vary greatly from show to show. Listeners expect that a podcast they subscribed to will be the same from show to show. And, that shows will be added at regular intervals.
Wisconsin podcaster Chuck Tomasi recommends that podcasters record five to six shows and listen to them first before going public. It usually takes that long, he said, for prodcasters to establish a broadcast format, personality and rhythm.
Tomasi encourages businesses to explore opportunities where podcasting integrates naturally into the business: as a companion to the corporate newsletter, a tool for customer support, or a means of demonstrating consulting expertise.
“Find something that you’re interested in — passionate about — and have some expertise and go with it,” Tomasi said. He and his co-host Kreg Steppe use their podcast entitled Technorama to discuss recent events and stories in the tech world.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.