According to a recent ABC survey, Australia has become one of the fastest growing markets for podcast creation and consumption, especially among the tech driven Gen Y.
When MP3 players were integrated into smartphones, the convenience of access led to an increased interest in podcasts. Couple that with the low cost and ease of creating a podcast and you have a proliferation of genres, styles, formats and fans.
So what makes a good podcast?
“I think authenticity is incredibly important… I don’t like podcasts that sound overly scripted,” says Head of ABC Audio Studios Kellie Riordan.
ABC Audio Studios is a specialist department within the ABC that focuses on creating new, original podcasts as opposed to listen-again, post broadcast radio programs. ABC Audio Studios also run yearly podcasting conference known as OzPod to showcase and aid development of the Australian podcasting community.
Due to the ease of creation Riordan believes podcasts create an environment which “gives a voice to the more marginalised communities” and thus there is much more growth to come.
Local podcast producer Jono Pech is a shining example of how simple it can be to gain a following through podcasting. Pech began his weekly podcast Puttin’ In Work in February and though the audience is still small, it’s gaining traction.
Pech interviews creative people (authors, artists, film makers etc) about their work and their process. Being part of a network of pop culture enthusiasts who are already connected through social media and other channels, means Pech has a ready made audience and immediate access to potential guests. With his profile rising, his opportunities are expanding.
“Now almost every second week I’m talking to someone in the US or England or anywhere really – its not really a barrier any more.”
Pech’s background in journalism makes podcasting a natural fit.
“I have a love for telling stories and just talking to interesting people.”
The four hours or so he puts in each week to do research, record, and edit is for love, not money. He’d do it if only 20 people listened, as long as they enjoyed it and were helped by it. He himself feels he learns more about writing, creativity and work processes, so it’s worthwhile regardless.
Within Pech’s pop culture network there are around 12 other groups who put out a weekly podcast. They all share ideas, tips and interview each other.
“It’s a great network of people supporting each other and supporting what each other is doing.”
As a creator and avid listener, Pech completely understands why the medium is growing.
“The appeal of podcasts is that it’s on demand. You can listen whenever you want, wherever you want…there’s always something for whatever you’re in the mood for.”
This idea of essential on-demand radio has led some to speculate that podcasting could severely impact the viability of radio in the future.
For radio futurologist, writer and speaker James Cridland this speculation was the perfect niche for his podcast Radio Futurologist where he explores the changing shape of audio media.
Cridland doesn’t anticipate a rapid demise in radio regardless of the accelerating growth of podcasting.
“Well over 9-out-of-ten people listen to radio every single week. In the US, it’s more popular than television. So there’s not much to be concerned about… It’s an astonishingly popular medium,” explains Cridland.
He sees podcasts and radio co-existing happily for some time yet.
Part of the reasoning behind Cridland’s belief for the coexistence of both mediums is that podcasts tend to focus on very defined subjects of storytelling. In America one of the most popular podcasts is Jenn White’s Making Oprah which tells the stories of the people who helped create the Oprah phenomena.
Despite being employed by WBEZ Chicago White says it was still difficult to get noticed in an ever increasingly saturated market. Her advice: be authentic and original.
“Replicating someone else’s style or success is a choice, but being intentionally authentic in developing your brand and in choosing the focus of your podcast can make you stand out.”
Among Australian podcasts, the true crime series, Casefile is a stand out success.
In less than two years, it has not only risen to the top of its genre, but is cited as one of the most popular overall podcasts, locally and overseas.
The podcast which began, as many do, with the host recording in his bedroom has now grown into a micro-enterprise which employs researcher/writer Anna Priestland, a producer and two freelance writers.
Despite Casefile now also having several sponsors it is still very much a labour of love as these sponsors simply cover the costs of producing the show.
For Priestland podcasts have become so popular because they have an authentic feel to the conversations and everybody “is fascinated by the reasons people do what they do.”
All of the podcasts mentioned in this article can be found at the various websites below.
OZPod EVENT: www.abc.net.au