How Podcasts Took Up all my Memory

Hello everyone I am Chris Foley and this is the foleyfm blog. Before I begin I would like to take a moment to thank my sponsors, Blue PowerAde and egg breakfast sandwiches from Corcoran Commons for being the best hangover cure I can get within a 100 yards of my bed. Ok let’s do it.

(Intro Music Plays)

So if you’re like me then you may have heard an intro like this once or twice when listening to the best man-made invention this side of the Mississippi, podcasts. As a frequent enjoy-er of several podcasts, I found myself wondering what is driving their recent surge in popularity. The answer is obviously complex but I feel that it comes down to two main facets that digital consumers are searching for: free, interesting on-demand content and authentic engagement from the hosts of that content with their listeners.

Now I don’t know about you and your podcast intake but I’m a big fan of the car ride podcast listen. There is nothing better on a two hour drive than plugging in the aux cord and knowing you have four episodes of your favorite podcast lined up in the queue ready to go. So why not just listen to the radio you might ask? No you didn’t ask? Ok…well the answer is on-demand content. Hmm I wonder what other type of medium can be characterized by its instant on-demand content?

Netflix: Dorms::Podcasts: Car.

In a digital age where consumers want what they want, when they want it, podcasts fill the void that Netflix leaves when you can’t stream video. It’s kind of like when you are out of an addictive substance and then replace it with another addictive substance until you can get more of that other addictive substance. Make of that metaphor as you will (it wasn’t my best). Oh wait actually I have a better one: Make new friends (podcasts) but keep the old (Netflix), one is silver and the other is gold. Side note, I’ve always felt weird about this saying. We all know gold is more valuable than silver. Gold is trading at 72x silver as of today so to say one friend is that much better than the other is just an awful nursery rhyme.

30 Day Gold Silver Ratio History

Though silver is on a comeback!

Ok back to the action.

My second point is that podcasts create an authentic engagement between the host(s) and their listeners. There are several ways that they do this in my opinion. One such way is user-generated content (a great buzzword for me the past week). A show that I frequently listen to is Pardon My Take which does an excellent job of incorporating segments in their show that use content requested from their listeners on twitter. Whether it is the “Jimbo of the Week”, a segment where users send in a funny mistake they made in the past week or “Parental Advisory” where kids send in funny things from their parents; the show does an excellent job of incorporating their fan base.

Besides the user-generated content aspect of podcasts, the intimacy of a podcast also allows for this engagement to occur naturally. When listening to a podcast it almost feels like you are speaking on the phone with the hosts. It reminds me of being on a business call with a few people when I was an intern and not being able to say anything, just podcasts are a bit more entertaining and less likely to yell at me by name. Compared to TV where you can see a physical barrier between you and the entertainment, audio allows for the imagination to run free and put yourself in the presence of your host.

 

So with that I wanted to just end with asking what, if any, podcasts you all listen to?

 

7 comments

  1. Interesting take on podcasts and their rising popularity! I have actually never listening to a podcast before, but I’m sure that I will get sucked into this new trend very shortly, especially as I prepare to find ways to entertain myself on the subway on the way to work next year. I think that you are definitely right that one of the reasons podcasts have become so popular is because of the desire that people now have to be constantly entertained, and I think that the need to be constantly entertained greatly stems from our constant accessibility to others via social media.

  2. Boy oh boy do I love podcasts. Funnily enough the other day at Lower I was getting lunch with a friend and we were talking about the same thing! We shared cool podcasts to listen to and discussed ideas that neither of us knew we liked. I think that’s the beauty of a podcast: being able to listen and learn information in a concise way for under an hour. I like your analogy to the intern conference calls, I’d never thought of that but it’s true! And I completely get the desire to listen to podcasts on long drives; I take a two hour bus every month or so and that is my happy place, just my podcasts and rest. If you’ve never listened to the TED Radio Hour on NPR, I highly recommend it! Guy Raz has an easy, friendly voice and he hosts different TED Talk speakers for a discussion of a common topic and I’ve learned some awesome stuff through there. Thanks for the cool post!

  3. I, like yourself, listen to a ton of podcasts. I have a few I listen to everyday, others I check in on when I see an interesting episode. While I agree the two factors you listed have contributed to a huge growth in podcasts, I think a more significant factor is that podcasts are a form of media that allow listeners to multi-task incredibly well. While obviously people can do other things while they watch TV, podcasts can be listened to in the car like you said, at work, in the house. This incredibly mobile and on-demand experience is what I think gives it its unique appeal.

  4. I can say with 100% honesty that the only podcast I’ve ever bothered to listen to is Serial. Yes, I am a follower. Yes, it was amazing… obviously. While reading your post I was confused as to what the big deal with non-suspense driven podcasts, however, you did a great job explaining that they can be so much more than a radio show. The ones you describe seem more akin to that of a late night talk show with a variety of segments that keeps the pace upbeat. While I will remain hesitant to the podcast trend (probably due to too many car rides listening to NPR with my Dad… scarring stuff), I will definitely take it under consideration. Nice post!

  5. Great post! I just recently started listening to Podcasts about a year ago after a few friends recommended them and I am already a huge fan. I make a trip back and forth from Chestnut Hill to Connecticut a few times per month and they really make the drive fly by. I loved the Netflix:Dorm, Podcast:Car comparison because it’s completely accurate (for me at least). If I’m just driving somewhere local I’ll throw on music but anytime I have a decently long trip in front of me, more times than not I’m listening to a Podcast. Like a ton of people I listened to the first season of Serial, but fell off after the first few episodes of season two. I also really enjoy the Barstool Sports and ESPN Podcasts, and I listen to Ted Talk Podcasts every once in a while as well.

  6. Personally, I am an Audible.com user, but for many of the same reasons.

  7. Nice creative start to your post. I haven’t gotten into podcasts yet, but I’ll be doing a lot of commuting this summer so I’ll have to give them a try. I like that they’re a commercial way of getting information aurally, after a school year of reading, my eyes could use the break!

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