Radio and newspapers may be dying, but people are still listening, watching and thirsty for information. There is one type of media that has grown exponentially in the last few years that provide all of this and more: Podcasts.

A podcast is an episodic series type of digital media. It could be audio, radio, video or even print, though that’s not the most popular format. The word ‘podcast’ comes from broadcast and, oddly enough, the success of the iPod. Because iPods were the fastest adopted portable media player, Apple can pretty much claim responsibility for the success of podcasts (I’m sure they already have).

The word “podcasting” first appeared in a 2004 article for The Guardian. In 2005 it was The New Oxford American Dictionary’s “word of the year.” How did podcasting take off, and how did it take off so fast? There are three factors we probably have to thank: the iPod, broadband internet and publishing tools.

The iPod certainly facilitated the podcasts growth. The device itself had nothing to do with the technology of podcasts and isn’t at all required for podcasting, but Apple does deserve some credit for marketing. Because of the widespread popularity of the iPod, podcasting could really take off.

Before broadband, the internet was generally too slow for audio or video. The internet was too slow for most anything beyond text. Faster internet led to faster download capabilities.

And lastly, publishing tools. The technology behind podcasting has become almost household. You used to require some degree of technical knowledge to be able to make a podcast and make it downloadable from your website. Now there are some very simple tools, software and web guides that make publishing a podcast easier.

 

If you’ve decided to start a podcast the first question you should ask yourself is “What is my content?” Why are you starting this podcast. After that, you need to consider what media is right for your podcast: audio or video.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing between whether to make an audio or video podcast:

Audio is a background media, generally takes less production time, requires less bandwidth to publish andthe files are easier to compress because MP3s are a universal audio format. Also, people are more willing to listen to a longer audio file than watch a long video clip.

However, video has the ability to convey a more powerful message, because it’s visual. It’s very useful when it comes to branding. Also, if you are looking to fund your endeavor, some advertisers prefer video. Lastly, video can be viral.

Ultimately, the content should dictate the media. Does your content require visuals to illustrate it’s point? If there isn’t a compelling reason to have a visual, don’t become just another talking head. No one wants to sit and watch you talk for a half an hour. Think about your goals and your audience.

 

Favorite podcasts around the SolidLine office include: Avid Rough Cut, Filmspotting, The Nerdist, NPR’s Radiolab, ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption, WTF with Marc Maron, Hopcast with friend of SolidLine Media, Brad Chiemlewski, and our very own Marcus Leshock’s Fantasy Football Festivus.

Share your thoughts or questions about podcasting culture in the comments. Or, just drop a comment to let us know your favorite podcast.

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