Tag Archives: podcast

Today’s Media Consumption Headlines

I can’t help but be struck by the headlines I read each morning when I log onto my computer or pickup my smartphone to read the latest news.

Here’s just a few recent ones:

  • More audio is now consumed in the U.S. through mobile devices than through traditional radio receivers. -Edison Research
  • 83% of U.S. Homes have enabled smart TVs or streaming media players. -Hub Research
  • 49% of registered voters don’t have traditional TV, 80% stream. -Samba TV & HarrisX
  • The steady climb of podcasting’s reach in the U.S. -Edison Research
  • Why mobile first is radio’s road back. -Jacob’s Media
  • Survey finds older adults are slowly warming to streaming audio. -Broadbeam Media

This last headline flies in the face of traditional wisdom that people over the age of 55, who grew up with AM/FM radio, won’t abandon the medium. However, the COVID pandemic has caused rapid shifts in media habits, even among older Americans.

Not surprising, it has been the shift to streaming video that’s taught people how easy it is to stream audio content as well.

Traditional Radio vs. Digital Audio

For twenty years, we’ve seen this day coming. With each passing survey, research study or anecdotal observation it’s clear that listening to audio content is moving from the world I grew up in, AM/FM radio, to digitally streamed audio.

The trend line is clear, everything is moving in one direction and there’s no signs of it reversing. Today 53% of audio time spent listening is to digitally streamed audio.

I started off this year of blogging with an article about how ALL of my radio listening is digitally steamed, whether I’m at home or in one of our cars. You can read that article HERE

Hallmark Christmas Movies

My wife Sue and I love watching Hallmark Christmas Movies. One of the things I’ve noticed about today’s movies, is how ubiquitous the smartphone has become in storylines. Everyone is constantly texting or video chatting with others in these movies.

But what really struck a nerve with me, was a scene in a recent Christmas film where a character in the movie tries to explain to another character what radio is:

Actor 1: It’s like TV without pictures.

Actor 2: You mean it’s a podcast?

It’s clear that we are living in the future that was predicted decades ago.

Life Is Change

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Both public radio and Christian radio have found audiences that will listen and support them whether they are received by traditional radio broadcasting or via a digital stream on a smartphone or smart speaker.

Many of our country’s smallest radio markets are also some of the most successful radio operations. Why? Because they know their listeners, and engage with them on a very personal level.

It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.

-Warren Buffett

In other words, everyone looks like they know what they’re doing when business is good, it’s only when things become challenging, that we know who is prepared to not just survive, but thrive.

How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?

-Bob Dylan

Radio broadcasting, like the mountain in Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ In The Wind,” is dealing with its own type of climate change, a change in people’s habits for how they receive and consume their media.

Let’s hope the answer to radio’s future isn’t “Blowin’ In The Wind.”

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What’s In a Name?

34In his play Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Gertrude Stein in her 1913 poem Sacred Emily wrote “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” It is one of her most famous quotes and has been interpreted to mean “things are what they are.” In other words, the fact that simply using the name of a thing invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.

Podcasting

Which brings me to a follow-up on last week’s blog post “Podcasts & Homework.” This past week, Jacobs Media Strategies in their blog asked the question “Is the Name ‘Podcasting’ Hurting the Medium’s Growth?”  Jacobs’ resident podcaster, Seth Resler, said there are basically two types of people: “Those who think the word ‘podcasting’ is preventing the medium from reaching its full potential, and those who think that idea is silly.”

Where Did the Name Podcasting Come From?

The term “podcasting” came from a portmanteau of the words broadcasting and the Apple device known as the iPod. The iPod was the first device to make using MP3 files simple and easy to download, organize and use. Its ubiquitous use made it the name people used for all such devices, much like Kleenex came to represent all tissues and Xerox came to represent all paper copies.

Is Podcasting the Correct Name For This Type of Content Delivery?

The debate is whether a name that is so tied to a device, the iPod, and to a single company, Apple, a good thing? Well, if you own an iPhone, you now have an App for podcasts. Likewise if you own an Android phone you also have many Apps for listening to podcasts. So the Alphabet Company isn’t fighting the use of the term on their platform. The name podcast is also the way the big internet content aggregators like Pandora, TuneIn, Stitcher and others refer to this type of programming.

As I read through the various comments from the podcasting gurus Seth had put the question to, one concept seem to rise above the others and that was podcasts were really “On Demand Audio.” They are the TiVo of audio. (TiVo is the digital video recorder that allows people record and watch video content on demand.)

What’s the dictionary say?

David Plotz, CEO of Atlas Obscura and co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest said in Seth’s blog post

 

“Podcasting is (a) dreadful name. No one uses iPods anymore. Podcasts are not broadcast. The only part of the word that’s accurate is the ‘ing.’”

 

So that got me to thinking about what Merriam Webster had to say about this. Turns out that the word “casting” is defined as “1: something (as excrement of an earthworm) that is cast out or off. “ Depending on what your experience has been with either broadcasting or podcasting, you might think old Webster got it right with the excrement part. So “casting” is appropriate in the name “podcasting.” But how about the “pod” part?  If you remember, the theme that was heard over and over being said by the gurus in Seth’s blog was that podcasts were really “On Demand Audio.” So, if the “pod” were to stand for “Programs On Demand,” then the word Podcasting is absolutely the perfect word for this type of programming.

Radiotelephone License

And since most people who listen to podcasts, do so on their mobile phone, that signal is arriving through the ether, just like radio and television signals do, to your mobile device.

In fact, my very first FCC 3rd Class Operators License was called a Radiotelephone license because when this whole wireless communications world was born, no one knew what it would become. Initially some, like Nathan B. Stubblefield, felt it would be one-to-one wireless telephony. Others, like David Sarnoff and Edwin Howard Armstrong, would see it as a one-to-many form of communication that would become broadcast radio.

 

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