PodCasting: Buzz surrounds recent demand for time-shifted audio

The buzz around the iPodder software and Podcasting is a remarkable example of how pent-up demand for easily time-shifted listening or spoken-word audio content can be released by the coining of a long needed catchy name.

The other interesting thing about the newly coined term “Podcast” is its connection to the iPod player as it still has small market share of the overall mp3 player market, though the iPodder software is a simple yet effective tool for completing the last few feet of the delivery of media files to a mobile device like an iPod.

We are only seeing the very beginning of this movement. The truth is that most of this Podcasting news is new “old news” as many radio shows like WebTalk and KenRadio have been offering mp3 downloads for years. I am hoping that the true pioneers of time-shifted radio do not get forgotten in the hype around iPodder and Podcasting.

The true “content pioneers” of Podcasting are Audible.com and KenRadio.com. It is interesting that neither of these pioneers offers RSS enclosure feeds at present (except KenRadio.com via DownloadRadio.org).
While I am a supporter of the Podcasting trend, it is good that we finally have a name for time-shifted radio. I have struggled to come up with a good name to describe time-shifted radio. I would never have thought of Podcasting as iPods are so focused on music.

Regular mp3 players seemed the true market for time-shifting talk radio shows. The concept of delivering these mp3’s directly to the mp3 players is also being done by AudioFeast.com, Microsoft Sync n’ Go and Audible.com.

The question is how content will be differentiated in this new Podcast marketplace? Will it be based on quality? What defines quality? Does quality mean professionally produced or is reality radio going to be embraced as popular. Will successful content in the Podcasting market be entertaining or informational? It may need to be infotainment.

I am just not convinced that very many bloggers talking into his or her laptop microphone will gain enough of an audience. Just like what has happened with blogs, large numbers of podcasters will publish content and some will gain a strong foothold on audience numbers.

Podcasting is just like old-fashioned broadcast radio and will need online syndication to develop very quickly as increasing distribution will become very important to podcasters.

We will see Podcaster aggregation sites like DownloadRadio.org and the directory at ipodder.org that will help people discover new Podcasters. WebTalk is starting to change as a result of Podcasting as it seems like we will need to add more entertainment to be competitive.


After nearly six years of making webcast radio shows, I have been consistently inserting meta data into all my audio files and have been shocked at how many other audio and even video content creators do not take the time to insert complete meta data.

I have been thinking about wide-spread online distribution WebTalk. This has meant using every tool in my kit.

I have felt for years that the day will come when search of audio files will become important and those that built archives of content with inserted meta data will benefit when Google decides to index online audio files.

I have been seeing benefits from sites like Seattle’s Singingfish.com that is now owned by AOL. Singingfish is the largest audio and video search engine on the net. WebTalk is extensively indexed today by Singingfish and those search results are currently showing up in Windows Media Player and the RealOne player.

With the growth of webcasting because of the recent podcasting craze many more content providers are coming online. Very good podcasters like Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles (www.evilgeniuschronicles.org) and Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code show (live.curry.com) are not being found yet in the Singingfish audio search engine.

Podcasters have the opportunity to expand distribution by using online syndication techniques like website marketers have been doing for years and getting links from as many places on the net as possible. RSS distribution is great but it is only going to scratch the surface for a year or more.

Meta data is today very important to all webcasters and podcasters as they develop show archives. Now and in the future getting your content found, whether you are using mp3’s, wma’s or rm’s will be important.

The meta data file storage capacity does vary between formats. Native mp3’s have the smallest amount of space, but some tools exist to expand this capacity to include even full transcripts and images. All you need to do is download Mp3 Tag Tools v1.2.008.

The other major hurdle is monetization of these podcasts and webcasts. My vision is that commercial free downloads of very high quality content will be via paid subscription in the future. I am seeing trends pointing to this all around me. Now I must admit that this recent upstart called podcasting may push this back a few months. This subscription based downloads was started by Audible.com years ago and now we have seen new audio download service AudioFeast launch with a subscription model.

I think we will see the cream of the webcast and podcasting content make this transition to paid downloads, but most will maintain some sample version available for a fee with commercial ad support at some level. P2P technology like Bit Torrent will also enable low cost delivery of these downloadable webcasts and podcasts that will help keep subscription rates low, but all will need to stream to mobile devices as wireless Internet radio grows. Not everyone will want to download.

Rob Greenlee is host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based nationally syndicated radio and webcast show featuring technology news and interviews.