Podcasts are having a moment. The audio medium has been around since Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, but like most new forms of media, it was relegated to a niche audience at first. In 2013, iTunes reached one billion podcast subscribers, and has grown 25 percent annually since then.
In the visual information era, what is it about podcasts that attracts almost forty-million people? A large part of the allure lies in the convenience of carrying a small radio with you everywhere you go—your smartphone. An Edison Research study, published in May, found 64 percent of podcast consumers listen to podcasts on their smartphones. Mobile apps such as the iTunes podcast app, Stitcher, Pocket Cast and Overcast provide free, unlimited access to myriad podcasts crafted by musicians, scientists, comedians, historians, journalists, economists, gamers, techies, foodies, parents and more.
photo illustration by Brendan Loscar
The podcast that launched the medium into the mainstream was the 2014 premier of Serial, in which journalist Sarah Koenig re-examined the 1999 murder case of Hae Min Lee over twelve episodes. The show averaged more than 1.5 million listeners per episode and remains in the top five on iTunes a year later.
The popularity of the medium might also have to do with the intimacy of audio storytelling. Hearing voices that are part of the stories provides an immediate emotional connection for listeners. It’s a platform that survives solely on the art of storytelling and conversation, and proves that even in the age of Twitter and truncated media, good storytelling reigns.
OPB’s Think Out Loud | Topic: News & Politics | Available on iTunes and Stitcher
Kickass Oregon History | Topic: Education | Available at oregonhistory.com
Oregon Music News | Topic: Music | Available on iTunes and Stitcher
Soccer Made in Portland | Topic: Soccer | Available on iTunes and Stitcher
Underground Airwaves | Topic: Food & Farming| Available on iTunes and Stitcher
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