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Bilingual Iliterate: The podcast craze
by Phil Schwarzmann
Issue 13
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The podcast craze hit the online world in 2005. MP3-players have been affordable for quite a while, nearly everyone under the age of 40 has one. High speed internet connections are found in just about every household, bandwidth fees on web hosts have become miniscule. The setting was perfect for the creation and distribution of home-brewed radio shows. All for free and all available at your fingertips.

There’s literally tens of thousands of podcasts out there, yet it seems as if there’s more people making them than actually listening to them. So why is this? We can’t say the same thing about blogs. Blogs went through the same worldwide craze, arguably back in 2004. Millions of blogs are online now but the number of active blogs is much less. Everyone was making a blog, but only the strong survived – and the same will soon happen to podcasts.

So what makes a “strong” podcast? Well honestly anyone can make a strong podcast, we know that money isn’t an issue and I’d argue that talent isn’t even an issue. We’re all interesting people, you just need to know how to market and present your podcast in the right way. I’ve listened to quite a few different podcasts and rountinely notice the same problems, the key is to mimic an actual AM/FM radio show. Release your show consistently on the same day and time, invite different guests, always have at least two people talking, keep it relatively short, broadcast a live show (however this can get costly), allow your listeners to call in and participate (again, can be costly), create a website with your show’s information, choose topics that are unique, choose topics that you’re knowledgable in.

Podcasters need to remember that their listeners must devote a substantial amount of time to their show. This is unlike blogs whereby a user can spend virtually ten seconds on your site and decide whether or not to keep reading or never visit again. Podcasts take time to download, then minutes to listen to before you decide whether you like it or not. This is why podcasts will never compete with the blogs, with all the intriguing online content nowadays, people wants lots of information as fast as possible and podcasts don’t really provide that.

However, podcasts are mobile, you can enjoy them while you’re on the bus, in the car, walking down the street, cleaning the house. Blogs force you to be sitting in front of a screen, devoting all of your energies towards reading. This is why I feel video podcasts won’t make it too far off the ground – you need to be devoting all your attention to it and it takes time to download and watch. Although with new technology like PMPs (personal media players), video iPods, and powerful mobile devices (like Nokia’s S60 phones) – video can now go mobile.

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