When podcasting first came on the scene, there was a flurry of speculation concerning the future of radio and if podcasting would remain as a viable method of consuming audio content.
Critics were torn. Some said that podcasting would mean the death of radio, while others thought that podcasting would drop of the face of the Earth. A while ago in an interview, someone asked me what I thought about this subject. My answer to their question was that podcasting would not disappear and radio would have to adapt in order to compete with the new medium and its extraordinarily diverse content and time-shifting convenience for listeners.
It’s now the end of 2005 and at least 4 months have gone by since that interview was conducted. What do you think? From my vantage point, podcasting has grown, has gained acceptance, and continues marching toward the critical adoption of the majority as a medium that can be relied upon for accessibility, variety, and most importantly, on demand podcast consumption. Mind you, radio is catching up by podcasting some of their programs for free and an assortment of TV shows can be purchased in the iTunes store for a dollar a piece…
Maybe one day, the new debate will be “Podcasting or Broadcasting?” Currently, we’re still working out as a people whether we would rather drink “Coke or Pepsi” and use a “Mac or PC”, but this debate will start simmering and perhaps already has in some workplaces and water holes. I know that many of the podcasts that I currently subscribe to only have an online presence, and that being said, I wouldn’t want to give them up, especially since they are so portable… Pop your MP3 player into your computer, update the playlist, and off you go, favorite programs that are enjoyable and available on demand.
There are some places though that listening to podcasts on an MP3 player with head phones on is either dangerous or downright rude (the same could be said for any device that employs head phones or your full attention, i.e. mobile phones, hand held games, portable radios, etc.).
For instance, using head phones (most MP3 players need these in order to hear the audio properly) while operating a vehicle of any kind may have severe implications and cause undue harm to others or even death should an accident occur. Our friend the radio gets some points here. You can turn a radio down and it also doesn’t inhibit your ability to hear sirens or distract nearly as much. Unless you’ve burned a CD of your podcasts or have a lap top computer as your riding companion, the likelihood that you are using head phones is very high. Other places to avoid using this solo technology, or a personal radio for that matter, include schools, churches, and at the homes of other people.
So far as I know, an iPod can’t wake you up yet like a clock radio, so another point goes to the broadcast medium.
On the other hand, I’ve heard feedback that TV viewers are getting their podcast fixes using TiVo, an aid used to clear out commercials and program your own television viewing schedule. Another innovation to note is the flat screen, supersized computers that are starting to take the place of popular television sets. I’ve comfortably watched DVDs on a MacBook or Mac Pro, but these new giants from Apple have an even higher definition and a more convincing living room appeal.
Let’s check in on this in a few months and see where we’re at.