Podcasting: the next big thing?

I’ve been playing about with Podcast technology for a few months now, and I hope to bring you a first issue of Slugger Radio before long. The big problem, that I can see, is that it takes an age to put together. Though clearly first time out there’s going to be a steep learning curve. Paul has found a nice bit of software from Apple, which could start taking the effort out of making podcasts. Will blogs and text then become a thing of the past?

  • Henry Porter

    I’ve checked out a few and I don’t think it is going to work out.

    It’s a bit like audio-books. Most people prefer the print version.

    I’m a big fan of Ricky Gervais but even his podcast while funny wasn’t funny enough to make me listen to the whole series.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/rickygervais

    I’m still open to suggestion if someone has a recommendation but I’m unimpressed so far.

  • Having done four now, I think the main thing here is to remember that is can be fun. Like blogging. (though he does make the valid point that politicos and journos might treat it different. Who knows, perhaps shock-jocks too.)

    As for how long it takes, my last one took twnety minutes to do, and eight of that was converting it down to mp3. (Hush there at the back, now.)

    I doubt text will ever become a thing of the past, though. I love books, and can’t read a novel on a screen, so good old dead tree for me.

    Even without the new shiny Mac stuff, Audacity and the built-in mic on a powerbook do the business.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I’m going live as soon as I can. It strikes me that it depends on having an MP3 player if it’s going to add a lot to the blog.

  • There are a few podcasts already out there from Northern Ireland:

    * Letter to America ( http://lettertoamerica.blogs.com/ ) is broadcast from “Belfast’s Red Light district” and is very funny.
    * Futureless Radio ( http://www.futureless.org/radio/ ) is alternative music from Northern Ireland. (The next one is long overdue…)
    * There’s a drumming podcast, it’s on iTunes
    * There are some Godcasts, I haven’t listened to any of them so I won’t comment!

    Podcasts won’t replace blogs. It’s still easier to write your article than to prepare it, record and edit it, then encode it and upload it to your webserver. Of course, the software will make parts of this easier, but creating the content and recording it will be just as hard as before.

    The downside to podcasts is that you can’t skim through them like you can with blogs. Nor will search engines listen to them in order to index them…

  • TAFKABO

    I just got into podcasting this year, and it’s definately going to be very big indeed.
    You shouldn’t think of it as something that will replace blogs, rather something that offers another medium to blog in.
    Interviews can be very dry to read, I’d be much more inclined to listen to the spoken word than read a transcript.
    After your blog goes out there, you will still need the fora to discuss the content.

    podcast alley is a good place to start for the uninitiated.

  • kate

    Thats all Greek to me, does this mean I can listen to slugger on line yes or no? What is a pod and do I have to buy one? LOL If I don’t have one will I be able to listen to slugger and if mick goes on line will it be all political talk, or plenty of golden oldies ‘records’ lol.

  • TAFKABO

    Yes, you can listen to podcasts online, using realplayer ,windows mediaplayer or any of the other media players commonly and freely available.

    You can download the podcast to your PC and listen to it when it suits, or you can transfer it to an MP3 player if you have one, and listen to it on your way to work.

  • FK

    I’d love to listen to Slugger BUT how do we bitch at each other and Mick on a podcast…does this site stay up?

  • I think that the way this will work is that existing bloggers will use their group-blog as a sounding board and will pod-cast their better offerings. With the notable exception of Slugger (and I promise this is not intended as a piece of bumlickery) the quality of most group-blogs is variable, to say the least.

    Take Samizdata, for example. Occassionally excellent, but often plain old bonkers.

    The podcast could provide a combination of the ‘weekly digest’ for regular visitors, and marketing’ (providing people who are too busy to to persevere with an unknown blog with a sample they can just listen to on their bus journey home).

    For my own purposes, I hope more blogs start to do it. I’m interested enough in Norn Irn, for instance, to want one high-quality ten-minute update of what’s happened in the last week.

    I’d also like a good Horse Racing podcast, one with the gossip about my football team, perhaps one from the local paper of the town I’m from, and so on. A half-an-hour of ‘radio’ a week that I don’t have to spend any time compiling.

    That’s what podcasting by blogs can do, I reckon.

    Go on Mick. Get cracking. I’ll listen to it…

  • Animus

    As long as people are checking in while at work, blogging and text is here to stay. Television didn’t kill radio and people still read books avidly.

    Personally I’m not that interested in podcasting – I cycle to work so I can’t listen to anything and I can’t imagine lying in bed with my iPod on rather than a trusty novel. But I see its appeal for others.

  • FK

    I just went to itunes and listened to bits of a few podcasts. Seems like a really good idea. You have to have an nice voice though…

  • Alan

    Yes, it would be interesting to speak into this mic in front of me which the kids use for MSN Messenger, rant and see it appear on a board. You all could then abuse me royally or republicanly.

    I can’t see the quality of posts improving, however, and isn’t there a problem paying for additional bandwidth. I also remember somone at Stream-on talking about downloading to mobiles and paying through your phone bill.

  • Samizdata bonkers???!

    No way!

  • As someone who has been podcasting weekly out of Belfast for a few months just want to say a couple of things:

    I listen to at least a dozen podcasts a week and the amount of time spent ‘consuming’ other media has gone down as a result. The ability to hear ‘niche’ content is great and there are a huge variety of quality shows out there.

    Disagree with Henry Porter’s comment that they are not ‘going to work out.’ Just the opposite – they’re becoming so popular that there is a scramble to ‘monetise’ them, (the amount of people who download my show has increased to the point where it’s costing me real money now – and they’re are lots of folks figuring out ways to make money from / charge for them).

    Re: Mick Fealty’s comment about a ‘steep learning curve’, in the 4 months I’ve been doing this the tools to produce / distribute / market a podcast have improved dramatically. Am thinking about holding some sort of ‘podcasting seminar’, (prob. just having a pint at McHugh’s or something), where I could give folks the low-down on what I’ve learned so far. If anybody is interested just email me.

  • kate

    I’m lost. Is the downloading a daily or weekly thing, first downloaded to the pc and then sent to the mp3 player on the mobile if you want it. I got that bit, but can anyone give me a link of a pod thingy to download so that I can listen to it now on the pc, so that i can see what you are all talking about. I have a mike for this pc but haven’t installed it yet, still trying to come to terms with downloading and re-writing dvds!!lol thanks for your help previously TAFKAO.

  • FK

    Kate,
    Do you have iTunes? There are tons of them there to try out.

  • Kate: the breakthrough with podcasts is that they are ‘wrapped’ in what’s called an RSS feed – this means that once you ‘subscribe’ to them, (using an application like Apple’s iTunes), you’ll always get the latest episode of your fav. podcast, (whether it comes out weekly, monthly, etc).

    If you have iTunes on your machine go to the ‘Music Store’ and click on ‘Podcasts’ – then type in something like ‘Belfast’ in the search window and you’ll see all the Belfast podcasts that are listed on iTunes. You can then preview them / subscribe to the ones ya like.

  • Keith M

    I thought about doing the same thing on my website, but the set-up involved would be a huge time consumer.

    If you are looking for good quality Podcasts I recommend the BBC.

  • Ringo

    I’m going to stick my neck out on this one – Podcasting adds so little to the existing (niche) market for accessing online speech files that it will never make it big. Podcasting is MP3 files wearing a short skirt. In my opinion, it’ll wap.

  • TAFKABO

    Agreed that auntie Beeb is probably your best starting point.

    This page is where to begin.
    It has all the instructions for the first timer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/downloadtrial/

  • Re: Ringos’s comments; nope – what podcasting really is, is the vanguard for the replacement of all currently delivered non-interactive media – within a few years all TV/Radio functionality will go ‘IP’, (internet protocol), meaning that people will get the shows they want delivered to some sort of storage medium and watch them when they want to. My friends in the States currently get ALL their favorite shows not from cable/direct to air TV but from Bit Torrent/iTunes/Google Video, etc.

    Podcasting is just a taste of what’s coming up. How many TV shows has Apple already sold in their store? Over a million since October.

  • Mick Fealty

    Jett, are you hosting it on your own site or a proxy. I’m slightly concerned that with the traffic we get I’ll blow the broadband limit in one sitting.

  • Henry Porter

    Jett Loe

    I agree it will work for video. But I’m with Ringo on the podcasts. I would love to change my mind and I’m still on the look out for a podcast that doesn’t bore me.

    I think it’s a very difficult medium to be interesting in.

  • Mick: hosting through media servers at Podbus.com – cost = 66 cents a Gigabyte – average length of my show is 45min = 15mb file. So, yeah the costs are adding up.

    Henry: I can’t speak for N.I. but podcasting has caught on in the States, (where most of my traffic is from). Don’t know what you’re interested in but there are a couple hundred thousand podcasts to choose from and there are some that are suberb – Christopher Lydon’s Open Source for example.

  • jazzone

    The beeb are going to be expanding the amount of content they’re podcasting in the next few months. A big wheel from BBC new media was presenting the corporation’s strategy to Radio Ulster staff yesterday. Heavy hints were dropped that at least one Radio Ulster programme will feature in the next wave of the beeb’s podcast offering.