The Evolution of Podcasting and Its Relationship with Technology
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Do you remember the time when families would gather around listening to the radio? Whether listening to music or news broadcasts? Radio programs have been the best way to gain knowledge for a few decades. And with the advancement of technology, we’ve got a new way of listening to audio content.
The introduction of the podcast format rose in the early 2000s, changing our ways—using the internet to access this medium and being limitless regarding the topics it can cover. And since then, radio shows and podcasts have come together for you to gain knowledge from a radio channel or over the internet.
While TV caused exclusively audio programming to lose popularity with the general public for a time, it’s now back and about with podcasting. Let’s take a look back at the history of podcasting, talk about where it is today, and see the future that hopes to advance audio-driven content.
The World Before Podcast
You cannot separate the history of podcasts from that of Apple’s iPod.
Three years after the first iPod was released in 2001, the former MTV VJ Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer came up with a scheme that would let people download online radio programs from the internet directly to Apple’s ground-breaking device. They created a program called “iPodder” that could extract audio files from an RSS feed and transfer them to an iPod. And for once, it was possible to download radio broadcasts to a portable player and listen to them while on the go.
That same year, journalist Ben Hammersley published a now-iconic article called “Audible Revolution,” where he suggested a few prospective titles for this new way of online broadcasting: “Audio Blogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?” Podcasting is the one that got stuck in everyone’s head—an arbitrary combination of the words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast.’
From there, podcasting began to gain popularity. The first podcast service provider, Libsyn.com (Liberated Syndication), appeared in October 2004. The phrase “podcasts” received over 100,000 Google hits before that year ended.
Podcast Over The Years
The hype surrounding podcasts was starting to take off as 2005 rolled around. It was the year that “podcast” was selected as the Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, firmly establishing podcasts as the burgeoning media trend that was already, or would soon be, on everyone’s tongues.
One of the many milestones of podcasts in the same year is Apple introducing them to iTunes 4.9 and creating a podcast directory on the iTunes Music Store. For the following years, podcasts would be heavily linked with Apple, particularly since iTunes and the Podcasts app (which was released in 2012) were the primary locations where most listeners find, download, and subscribe to podcasts.
In 2006, podcasts were freed from every listener’s Apple earbuds and presented before live audiences. Steve Jobs gave a keynote speech to begin the year, explaining to a live audience how to make their own podcast using Apple’s free GarageBand program. After a month, Lance Anderson launched The Lance Anderson Podcast Experiment, a live podcasting tour, making him the first podcaster to take their program on the road.
In October of the same year, This American Life launched a podcast version of the show and it has remained one of the most successful programs on the podcast charts ever since. In 2014, they published an investigative journalism podcast called Serial and had everyone listening. That doubled the number of monthly podcast listeners in America.
2019 is the breakout era of podcasting as Spotify redesigned its app to give a home to podcasts. It bought two of the top podcast production companies (Gimlet and Parcast) and one of the most well-liked production tools (Anchor). Now, it’s one of the most used podcast services across countries, not just in the US.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the podcast continued to rise as most people stayed in their homes. And with the number of listeners growing, more and more topics have been introduced, including web3 and the music industry.
A milestone happened in 2021 as the revenue in the podcast advertising market surpassed the $1 billion mark, according to IAB’s study. By 2024, they expect it to reach above $4 billion. To take advantage of this trend, businesses partner with audio content marketing companies to create engaging and informative podcasts that can help reach a wider audience and increase brand recognition.
The Role of Technology in The Evolution of Podcasting
Technology played a significant role in podcasting since it started in 2005. With its advancement—the rise of smartphones, the widespread availability of the internet, the development of digital media, and the rise of podcast hosting services and other related technologies, podcasts have transformed from downloading MP3 audio files and transferring them to iPods to being more convenient and accessible.
Nowadays, as long as you have a device and an internet connection and are subscribed to a podcast streaming platform, you can listen to and download endless podcasts regarding various topics you like.
The Bottom Line
Podcasts have really become one of the fastest-growing channels in digital media. And the continuous development of technologies has made it possible for them to become more accessible and reach a wide range of audiences around the world. In the future, as our world continues to advance, we can expect more in the podcasting industry, providing new and fun ways to enjoy the show.