It always starts with one podcast. Or it usually does. You find that one podcast either through a friend or coworker or perhaps just happenstance. You listen to that one podcast and then you subscribe and you consume all of it. Perhaps you even go through the back catalog.
That one podcast speaks to you. You get to know the host or hosts, their style of joking, their tastes, and depending on the podcast their lives. You know them, or at least you know their persona.
And then it happens.
You are happy with your selection of the one podcast that you call your own, whether it’s a professional pod or an independent one, it is yours and you’re happy with that. Then one day you’re going about your business and a topic comes into your head and before you realize what you’ve done, you’ve searched for that topic not in Google, but on your podcast app of choice.
Now, aside from being overwhelmed that even topics as trivial as say, a video game you remembered from your youth or a book you’ve never convinced your friends to read have many results, you decide to cherry pick the list and choose a few to listen to and at the end of it all you’re subscribed to another show, or two.
Are you overwhelmed by the selection of choice? No more than you would be standing in a library looking for something to read. It may not be as perfectly cataloged as a library, but you know your way around search results so you just deal with it.
And then it just grows and soon you are subscribed to more podcasts than you have time to listen to so you start picking and choosing episodes, while holding on to that one podcast that started you off.
Then, things start to change, podcasts fold, co-hosts come and go, and you adapt. Your listening habits are now daily rituals. You have at least one new podcast episode to listen to five days of the week. And yet it doesn’t slow down.
Guests on one of your subscribed shows have their own shows and maybe you follow them back to their show, enjoy what you hear and subscribe to yet another show you just don’t seem to have the time for.
All the while, friends, family, and coworkers don’t quite understand your habit. You start to bring up things said on the expanding list of shows you’ve heard into your conversation, and you start to hear familiar refrains from those who just don’t get it. “How can you listen to podcasts all day?” “What is a podcast?” “Oh, my cousin’s best friend has a show, but I can’t get into it.”
When these refrains come at you a few times you start to wonder what you know that they don’t.
Reading a blog used to be the same. “Why are you reading some nobody on the internet? Just read the newspaper or watch the news.” Blogging, then moved into the mainstream and now with the emergence of so many professionally designed templates, people don’t always know or even care when they’re reading the blog of a nobody or a somebody.
Blogging has come a long way since it was just a hobby for the technically savvy, but podcasting seems to be on the way to the same internet ubiquitousness. For podcasting, it’s still the wild wild west. And with the speed of innovation on the internet being light years faster than the speed of innovation for blogging, it’s only a matter of time before podcasting is ubiquitous too.
But podcasting isn’t there yet. It’s still growing out of its adolescence. There are professionals and there are amateurs, but the line has not yet blurred as it has for blogging. But it will.
In fact, as music streaming services start to dive into becoming podcast platforms like Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Spotify more and more people will start to have access without the need for a separate app or “podcatcher.” And you can also catch many podcasts on Soundcloud, YouTube and even natively on the web.
All of these developments create more awareness, but awareness was never the problem. Twitter and Facebook provide ample opportunity for podcast listeners to reach out to the podcasters they are listening to. The sense of community within each individual podcast and their respective listeners is the same as it is for television shows, music, and movies.
If you’re on any social media at all, you’re probably skimming past conversations that are being had within these communities, because chances are at least one person you know listens to and interacts with a podcast they are subscribed to.
With the rise of streaming audio and video, podcasts are just another streaming option. It’s not that hard to comprehend. Text was a print medium, it belonged to publishers of books, newspapers, and magazines until the internet ripped the exclusivity away and gave publishing to the masses. Television and movies were the exclusive domains of large studios until the internet ripped that exclusivity away, too.
Now, podcasting is doing the same thing with radio. And just like text and video, radio isn’t dying, it is just changing.
So, you’re a podcast addict. That’s ok, as it was ok for the newspaper addicts of old, the television addicts of yesterday, and the YouTube addicts of today.
Enjoy yourself and happy listening.