Radio v podcasts


 I’m a sucker for a good story and when I say good, I mean a story that moves me, one that touches and makes me feel something. My first go to pod-casts when I want to listen to listen to a story that will provoke my mind are ‘This American life’ and ‘The Moth’, these are both mainly non-fiction stories. I have others for fiction stories that I dip into, the obvious is ‘Radio Four drama‘ and ‘Audible’. How I listen to stories is very similar to how I watch films or television, actively choosing what I want to engage with; for example I don’t simply turn on the radio or TV and just see what’s on, I go to Netflix or use a catch-up service. Markets are changing, consumers have more choice than ever with the rise of self publications in all formats, whether they be radio, film or the written word.

For the purpose of my research I will be focusing on radio and pod-casts, first I want to know, what’s the difference between the two? In essence radio broadcasts live shows and you can tune into a station and listen to what’s on at that time, pod-casts are recorded pieces of information that you can go to and download. Personally I always choose pod-casts over live radio and am grateful for radio programmes that have a backlog of shows to catch up on. I find Radio 4’s quick turn around of shows disappointing, I often want to listen to something that is no longer available and I am not able to track it down in other places.

Can pod-casters survive independently from mainstream radio? I am attracted to them as often the voices and subjects can be alternative and more subversive. Is it too subversive though, their fate to become listened to by a handful of students surviving on tea, toast and roll-ups?

‘Podcasters are to radio what bloggers are to newspapers: independent voices taking attention away from mainstream media. At least that was the theory when professional podcasts and blogs were getting started in the early 2000s…’

There is an acknowledgement from both the article above by Richard Macmanus and the interview below by Ben Cooper, that radio needs to change and pod-casts are not surviving as a stand alone service. The market is changing, people want to be able to listen to radio on their phones or devices without having to stream live, as you need to do if listening to live radio. Maybe a combination of the two as BBC Radio provide, you can listen live and they still maintain active archives? It’s interesting to note that some radio presenters are being discovered through their popular You-Tube videos.

BBC Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper has delivered a strong presentation at Radiodays Europe questioning the future of radio, ‘Radio is dead’.

Regardless of whether radio is dying, morphing or simply carrying on in it’s usual way, there is no denying that pod-casts are here to stay. The simplest reason being, pod-casts are easier, more accessible on a range of devices. Accepting that fact, I want to know how they spread, what is it that makes someone share content and how is it that some stories spread like wildfire and others stay stuck at the bottom of a well. Off to go digging around some more…



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