November 24, 2006


podcastearbuds.jpgSo, I've been considering jumping into the podcast pool. Not listening. Making.

I already listen regularly to more than a dozen each week. I love being able to hand-pick the content I want instead of listening to the crap music on the radio and the garbage talk radio available locally.

I enjoy the podcasts done by National Geographic. I love listening to Studio 360 and This American Life. I dig listening to the daily segments by Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio. The Loh Down on Science is brilliant. So is The Writer's Almanac. Diggnation is cool on the days when I'm feeling all webby and geekish. KCRW's Good Food is interesting most episodes, although it has a tendency to get a bit pretentious, West Coasty and "Schwety Balls"-ish (and not in a funny way.) NPR's All Songs Considered has introduced me to some interesting tunage.

But my absolute favorite is the Penn Radio, done in Las Vegas by illusionist/comedian Penn Jillette. The guests are usually great, the host is hilarious and the hour flies by. It's a great way to spend the ride home on the World's Most Expensive, Corruptly Run, Dangerous, Potentially Lethal and Useless Piece of Shit Elevated One-Way Highway. Listening to Penn Radio calms me and helps me forget that I'm an enabler funneling financial support twice a day to this horrific, poorly designed and wasteful expenditure of public money.

I've enjoyed podcasts to the point that I think it could be fun to do my own podcast. Not sure about what, really. Maybe about food pop culture. I don't know. If anything, it would be a great way to learn about the technology by dipping my head into the pool of piranhas. I have the sense that enjoying podcasts is not the same as enjoying assembling them. It might have an unappealing sausage-making quality, for all I know. I also get the sense that it might be fun to be an aerial trapeze artist doing quintuple sommersaults without a safety net, but that doesn't necessarily make me qualified to participate in the activity.

But then I read this story, which says, in essence, that podcasts are reaching only the smallest leaf of the smallest branch on the tiniest tree of listeners.

The survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found 12% of US people online had downloaded a podcast.

Earlier this year, a survey by the same research group found that just 7% of online Americans had downloaded a show.

But despite the growth, just 1% of respondents said that they would download a podcast on a typical day.

This figure remains unchanged from the February survey.

Research firm Nielsen NetRatings estimates that there are 207,161,706 Internet users in the US.

Now, I'm not in this for a popularity contest. I don't blog because I want to be some new media tycoon. I do it because I see funny stuff or interesting stuff or I have what I think are unique experiences - or, hell, really common ones - and I need to get them out of my head and share it, hopefully in a way that's unique and fun. In the process, I try and learn some new skills that will possibly keep me from being relegated to the dinosaur tar pit.

It's possible I could achieve the same thing and do as a podcast every so often. And while 2.07 million possible listeners does seem like quite a lot, it doesn't really average out so well when you divide it by the pool of 26,000 regular podcasts that are out there. Is something worth doing for an average audience of 7,900 listeners? Depends on what it's worth, I guess.

Not all podcasts are created equal. Those that deal with sex attract much larger audiences. Those associated with established brands like NPR, Digg, Boing Boing and The Onion do very well.

Those that deal with humorous errata and morsels of food culture? Well... who's to say? Maybe it would be fun to get into the ground floor of an established technology. That would be different for a change.

If I do decide to jump into that pool, I'll let you know how it goes. And by all means, I'll share it with you, trainwreck or masterpiece. That's pretty much how I operate with the blog, even though the masterpiece has yet to make itself evident. I see no reason to change that policy.

Shoot me an e-mail (sidesalad-at-gmail-dot-com] if you think it's something you'd be interested in listening to or downloading. Or not. But definitely one of the two.

Posted by Jeff at November 24, 2006 11:13 PM | TrackBack
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