Podcasts began in 2001 but they were a media used only by the few, and most tech savvy, among us. The word podcast was first coined by the Guardian in 2003, it was used to refer to a broadcast that could be released regularly, downloaded into files and saved on the listener’s device. Back then that device was invariably an iPod or mp3 player however today our smartphones allow us to access the internet with ease, and with the podcast app readily installed on everyone’s iPhone, many can now spontaneously checkout a new podcast anytime that they have 3G. Smartphones have adopted a key role in our podcast consumption, with 71% of listeners now using their phone to enjoy podcasts, according to Edison Research. With these new possibilities, podcasts are able to steadily grow in popularity, and they are beginning to hit mainstream culture hard. But this may not be the only reason for why podcasts are now thriving, it is interesting to consider the appeal of this simple, fun, young and alternative form of media.
A podcaster has more freedom than most presenters. Often, they are working for themselves, they aren’t constrained by a radio timeslot, nor do they need to watch what they say. This means that they can ramble on for hours about their interest in collecting spoons if they so wish. This can be good or bad, but it does mean that if there is a particular podcaster whom you personally find brilliant, you can lap up every spec of uncensored gold dust that you believe comes out of their wonderful mouth and gain an untapped insight into their personality.
In this sense, a podcast is quite similar to a YouTube Vlog, seeing as anyone can start their own channel. It may have been the increasing success of YouTube Vlogs that has more recently developed our openness to the idea of digesting a podcast. Many well-known vloggers are beginning to supply podcasts as another source of entertainment for their fans. You can now hear The Vlog brothers, Hank and John, expressing their playful but pensive personalities through your earphones and TED has started providing audio versions of their talks. It makes perfect sense that these simplified versions of our favourite personalities are rising in popularity, considering the fast-paced lives that we Brits lead, where schedules are tight, mornings are early and the commute is loathsome.
It is safe to say that after Netflix, many of us are growing accustomed to the luxury of episodes that are available at any time. We love it. We love a guilty, indulgent binge-watching session even more don’t we? Podcasts offer this in audio form. They can be flexible. They aren’t as demanding as live broadcasting. You don’t need to drop everything to be available for a podcast there and then, with the fear that if you miss the show live you won’t be able to find it later online. Each podcast, like a loyal and reliable friend, is prepared to wait for you and will come with you everywhere if you so wish. They will wait for months, even years in your pocket, for you to pick your phone up and give them a listen. Although, one would hope that if you really loved them you wouldn’t leave it quite that long.
There’s a podcast out there for everyone. While running the risk of not doing the colourful array of choices that surround you justice, here is a small selection of recommendations:
For those of you who feel baffled and overwhelmed by Brexit and the heavily opinionated noise surrounding it, this podcast can provide a informative and neutral source of guidance.
Enjoy light hearted and hilarious commentaries on feminist issues, guests include an endless supply of talented female comedians whom effortlessly bat away the stereotype that women aren’t as funny as men.
The podcast version of football chat, is everything you would expect, casual, packed with humour and more fun. It’s perfect to listen to if you just can’t get enough of football or are perhaps bored by the lack of chemistry between other football presenters.
Ever wanted to hear QI’s “Little Elves” deliver facts straight to you? We had previously thought that only Stephen Fry could receive that privilege, but now they have their own podcast called No Such Thing as a Fish.
If anyone is desperate to learn the truth about controversial conspiracies, these hosts are here to help. They take a refreshingly objective stance on our biggest taboo subjects.