Can you just be a podcaster?

Allow me to touch on a touchy subject in the realm of podcasting. I’m referring to the battle of podcasters versus broadcasters. Can Joe Average pick up a mic with the same creditability as Bob Radio when he tires of cranking out 100,000 watts of RF[wiki] in exchange of thousands of bytes in MP3’s, or even both?

'coch3se' on tonight's podcast
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

A lot of this stems from a comment left on my last podcasting post about many producers being “unlistenable”, and it’s tough for me to disagree.

There are so many people in the world that would love to be on the radio, and when they grasp the possibility of being able to get into podcasting, where they will get as close as they will ever get in their entire lives of being a disc jockey on the radio (which really don’t even exist like many dream about), it’s an epiphany of humega proportions. And when they learn that all you basically need is a microphone and a computer, first endeavors can be rough.

Sparta @ The Commodore
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

However, there is something that always gets me, and the thing that differs about me, compared to many podcast producers and as someone who works in the radio industry, is the amount of patience I have as a listener. The rawness that comes from someone who just wants to pick up a microphone and be heard is captivating to me. They want to say something but don’t know what to say or how to say it. The one thing they do know is that they just have this compelling urge to make something.

Listening to audio or watching video like this can be painful, tedious, or maybe even torturous. That really depends on the type of person you are, but if you don’t like it, don’t download it. And if you already did, delete it. There are thousands upon thousands of podcasts out there that you can track down and tryout, and even that can intimidate a listener. Going from radio to a medium where you are overwhelmed with choices can be frightening.

The amazing thing you have to remember about podcasting is that no matter how easy it is to make your own podcast, it is just as easy to not listen or watch what you want. Do you have as much ability to do that in the world of broadcasting? Take a minute to really think about that one.

DaveO checks out the recording gizmo thing

Think about all the radio stations you can listen to on your FM dial. Count them up. Then count how many you can get on the AM side. How many broadcast TV signals? Cable? Satellite? If YouTube crosses your mind for even a second, then you can bet that the number of podcasts out there are vast. And if there isn’t something that fits with what you want, you could be the one to fill that gap.

There is freedom from everything we’ve come to know from traditional media in podcasting. When you have someone who has never been taught the constraints of censorship, time restrictions, or the ability to talk into the microphone at voice levels that actual human beings never actually converse at, the possibilities are endless. Not every formula or concoction works for every person who decides to become a podcaster, but at least they are stepping up to the plate to try.

The reality is that some sink while others float. That doesn’t imply that someone without broadcasting experience can’t take a chance at podcasting, and I encourage those folks even more.


7 Replies to “Can you just be a podcaster?”

  1. “ the amount of patience I have as a listener.”

    You are the exception, son, not the rule. In the car, the radio is just 2 feet from your ear, within arms reach and easily changeable the moment something annoying happens, be it dj, song or commercial.

    Same on the computer. I have 14 windows begging my attention, a lame podcast will be clicked off in seconds.

    Same goes for the iPod, I have it stuffed with gigs and gigs of pleasure and if your podcast licks, there’s a video, an audio book, or chill tracks to take your place.

    Since I’ve started to discover local people getting their podcast on, I’ve checked out as many as I know about. I have yet to find one that is listenable. Not a one.

    The only listenable talk-based podcasts are from professionals. Currently on my roster, I have:
    Leo’s TWiT Network (pick one)
    No Agenda (Adam Curry and Dvorak)

    But maybe I’m just a little too mainstream for you cool cats. The thing is, so is the majority of the population. While many lament the success of something like Nickelback, millions more buy the album and make it a best seller.

    Want to satisfy you inner muse and target a niche? Go ahead, crank out whatever ‘cast you can. Want to do it for reals? Get good.

    Oh, and read PenMachine’s thoughts on the topic if you think you’ll ever make real money doing this:

  2. Amazing hairdo! Next time you come to Iowa you need to bring it with you. Your nieces and nephews will love it.

  3. BZ – So you’re saying that if I don’t want to listen to the two or three similar format stations in a single market, then I should be content with having to listen to the completely other format that I also can’t stand? Someone who prefers classic rock over TOP40 should be happy and content with christian talk radio? The point is that there are only so many stations and formats that fit onto one dial.

    Believe it or not, there are people who like to have content that can actually fill a void that radio just can’t give them. Not a constant stream of afternoon drive time hosts that scream at them through over processed microphones, not to mention the ability to pause and fast forward.

    It’s not about mainstream vs. the underground. I’ve fought that fight since the first day I stepped into college radio. It’s about filling a demand that isn’t being met. If the mainstream wants to do their thing, they will fail at everything else while staying the course and filling the demand of the “majority”. That’s where podcasting fills in.

    Niche is true, but those numbers of downloads can give you a much better sense of who is actually listen to everything you have to generate in terms of content than those precious 5-15 minutes that you are desperately trying to lure in a listener on the radio so you can get them with that hit song and a commercial or five to pay the bills.

    And if you mean Derrek Miller, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting numerous times, this is a topic that I’m well aware of his opinions of. The thing is that I’m not in this to make money or be famous. Podcasting is a passion. It’s the wanting and needing of having a voice for something to share. I love music, and that’s where RadioZoom started. From that spawned an inspiration for The Crazy Canucks, also from a passion and love for the game of hockey.

    Good is a matter of preference. Good depends on the realm for which you want to thrive. Ted Riecken at Island Podcasting. Scarborough Dude at Dick’s and Jane’s. Chub Creek. Geek.Farm.Life. Evil Genius Chronicles. Those people are at the top of their games. It’s not a format or a niche. It’s a passion. A community with unique, direct conversations. People doing what they want to do and being who they want to be, saying what they want to say, doing it when and how they want to do it.

    Money is nice, but the last thing on my mind. I’d rather get the free, backstage pass to interview my favorite bands and share that conversation with the world, unedited, nothing held back. No programming directors telling me what I can or can’t say, no time restrictions for a shitty ten minute interview. That’s where wealth in podcasting comes for me.

  4. “shooting the shit” with Jim Ward of Sparta is worth far more than a paycheck for a gig – pretty much priceless. And I love the fact that when you listen to Andrew and Misty you can hear sheep in the background 😀

  5. Podcasting for pleasure is great. We’re not all in this for the money, I get that.

    I get that it fills a niche. I get that Leo’s roundtables on TWiT don’t work on mainstream radio, but I am richer for having the opportunity to listen to them.

    I am an advocate of MORE podcasting. I’m on industry message boards encouraging radio stations to branch out and give their audiences the opportunity to time shift programming on radio, just as TiVo does for tv viewers.

    Hear2.0 has a post this week about how podcast advertising will stretch beyond $400M in the next 4 years. That’s FABULOUS!

    My point is, simply, 99%+ of what is out there will stay niche because it is unlistenable.

    I am saying most of this will stay in the underground and not branch into mainstream.

    I know you’re fine with that, and more power to you. You’re doing it cause you love it, and because you want to and that’s what the spirit of the internet is all about.

    Yes, people complain about the same 4 formats on 20 different radio dials, but if you take 1000 people in a room and do a survey with them, guess what?? They say they “want something different”, but when they’re presented with that different thing, they ultimately choose to go back to what they’re comfortable with.

    I’m not saying it’s right, or wrong, it’s just a fact – people say they want change, but they ultimately choose the familiar. Case in point – Nickelback. All the backlash, all the hate, all the album sales, every.single.disc.

  6. okay, i’m coming off as a dick. i don’t mean to be.

    your “the amount of patience I have as a listener” comment really threw me, cause most people are not like that. not even close.

    now, everyone should be encouraged to blog, vlog and podcast and contribute to the internets, that’s what they’re here for – they just shouldn’t expect anyone else to listen, or read, or watch.

    that’s my point.

  7. But the satisfaction in the niche is the niche. Even though you might only have two hundred downloads of a single episode, you can take some satisfaction knowing that you stand a better chance of over fifty percent of the content being listened to rather than the 5-15 minutes that radio hopes to draw you into. A concentrated medium at a sliver of the cost.

    And I’m with Electric 6. Everything wrong in this world is Nickelback’s fault. 😀

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