Podcasting comes of age


It’s been over seven years since I recorded my first podcast and six years since I posted my Podcasting 101 tutorial. I’ve been encouraged by the growing popularity of podcasts and my own playlist allows me to listen to the BBC, NPR and experts such as Wendy Hanson and Phil McKinney.

However, it wasn’t until I read the cover story in the Financial Times Weekend Life & Arts section this week that I realized the extent to which podcasting has come of age. Sarah Gordon and Shannon Bond report on The Serial , a new weekly podcast that has attracts over 2.2 million listeners. The series has been downloaded over 20 million times.

The Serial debuted in October 2014 and is a spinoff of the NPR radio program This American Life. The episodes are about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high school student for which the woman’s ex-boyfriend is serving a life sentence.

The podcast resonates with the millennial generation and has generated ancillary blogs, YouTube videos and meetup groups of listeners.

The FT quotes Edison Research statistics stating that 39 million Americans, 15% of the over-12 population, listened to a podcast last month. Brands are increasingly interested in podcasts and popular ones like The Serial (sponsored by MailChimp) are profitable.

Whenever I tell people about podcasting, I’m asked “How do you make money?”. My answer is that you and I can’t. The average podcaster can burnish their professional reputation and promote interest in topics and people that interest them. However, just as with amateur vs. professional sports, just because you might enjoy hitting a ball around at the weekend for fun, it does not mean you’re at the same level as a professional producer from This American Life who hits one out of the park.

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