Wonder what ever happened to AM radio? It’s hiding in a podcast near you.
By Bill Wood
A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device. It’s typically available as a series that you can subscribe to and get automatically.
That said, the podcasts available to you today cover the gamut from politicians or comedians pontificating about each other, to sports personalities talking about their favorite form of sweat, to serialized crime novels and, even, scripted radio dramas. Yes, we’re back to the thrilling days of yesteryear when Gunsmoke, Amos ‘n’ Andy and The Jack Benny Show ruled the radio waves.
None of that floats your boat? Look on iTunes and you’ll find something that peaks your interest in the podcast section of the iTunes store. A number often quoted comes from Apple: A billion subscriptions on iTunes are spread across 250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 languages. And that was seven years ago!
I listen to several a week including The Tony Kornheiser Show, the Bronzeville serialized radio drama launched by Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate, and the Dirty John series produced by the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
Notice a trend here? Podcasts are no longer something produced in someone’s bedroom with minimal quality and scratchy equipment. Kornheiser is an award winning journalist from the Washington Post and ESPN television. Fishburne and Tate are two major box office names in Hollywood. And the Los Angeles Times was once a paper of record in America and, some feel, it’s fighting hard to regain that prestige. It might come through things like the Dirty John podcast series.
According to Edison Research:
Podcasting continues to rise, with monthly listeners growing from 21 percent to 24 percent year over year.
The audience for podcasts continues to be predominately 18-54, and leans slightly male.
The Podcast listener remains an affluent, educated consumer who is becoming increasingly more likely to gravitate to ad-free or ad-light subscription experiences.
On the smartphone, podcasting consumers’ time spent listening is tied with AM/FM content, and leads AM/FM among 13-34 year olds.
Digest that a moment. Podcast listeners are growing, they’re affluent, smarter and more likely to listen longer to a podcast than a program on radio.
The best part of the experience is that it’s available to you on demand and largely for free. Though, it’s unclear how long THAT will continue. Like most things in quality media, someone must cover the cost of creating it. There will have to be some out-of-the-box thinking to get those costs covered without slamming podcast consumers with embedded commercials.
What can’t be stressed enough, though, is the breadth of content available. I don’t care what you like and want to listen to, there’s probably more than one podcast waiting for your attention weekly or monthly.
Some more facts:
112 million Americans have listened to a podcast and that’s up 11 percent from 2016.
67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly and 42 million listen weekly.
Podcast listening skews less young. For the first time, a larger percentage of 25 to 54 year-olds listen to podcasts monthly than any other age group.
Two-thirds of podcasts are listened to on a phone or tablet.
Podcasts began as an outgrowth of the Apple iPod. People wanted original content and producers found a way to meet that demand. Curiously, iTunes was the bump in the road. You had to get it from the iTunes app, put it on your computer and transfer it to your iPod or other MP3 device.
Smartphones changed all that. Now podcasts will download directly to your phone and you’re off and listening. There’s even more apps beyond iTunes. That includes TuneIn Radio, SoundCloud, Stitcher and iHeartRadio, a service of Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio broadcaster. Clear Channel made podcasts part of iHeartRadio four years ago.
So, miss the in-your-face energy of AM Radio? Give a podcast a try. Google your passion and add the word podcast and see what comes up. You’ll be hooked in minutes.