April 14, 2024

In the time of this pandemic, people have been staying at home now more than ever. Because of this, some businesses have been suffering, while others, particularly ones that are more digital or web-based, have been thriving. One such business is podcasting.

There has been a slow-down on the filming of new movies and television shows due to COVID restrictions, so people have been searching for other forms of entertainment. Podcasting is relatively easy to produce and does not require much contact with other people, if any at all. Because of this, podcasters have been turning out new content, and people have been listening.

This surge has brought podcasting to the attention of a few large tech companies looking for ways to broaden the content they provide. Apple is looking into making a Netflix-like subscription service for podcasters and their audiences, and Amazon has recently acquired the podcasting company Wondery.

Brittney Smalley, senior English major, said she thinks companies are starting to notice this.

“People can listen to them anytime they want and they are probably noticing this,” Smalley said. “When (those companies) notice people’s increasing interest, they immediately think money and take advantage of that. Additionally, big name companies are very competitive, so when one does it, it is common for (others) to tag along.”

Dr. Douglas Lainson, associate professor of business, said that although podcasts are very similar to radio shows, there is a key difference. 

“Radio is a commercial service,” Lainson said. “Podcasts are turning into a commercial service, but radio tends to have a much wider distribution and a wider audience, so it has to please more people in order to be commercially effective, whereas a podcast can be very focused and very targeted to its very niche audience. You can find a niche to be very successful at it. I think that’s a huge difference between the two.”

Smalley said there is another difference between the two forms of audio media.

“I think podcasting creates a more intimate connection because it feels as though it is just you and the podcaster. I think this is an a

important benefit over things like YouTube vlogs,” Smalley said.

Caleb Catuara, senior English major, said he agrees with podcasts being more accessible.

“I think podcasts could be considered better than radio shows because they can be downloaded or streamed anywhere and listened to at any time whereas a radio show you have to listen to live if you don’t want to miss anything,” Catuara said.

Lainson said a service like the one Apple is in the process of making can be successful depending on content.

“Content is going to be king,” Lainson said. “So if the podcaster is capable of delivery consistent, quality content over time, then I think a subscription profile will be fine, I think it will serve it well. If they get a large audience and they can’t maintain, or deliver, I think it will fail.”

Podcasts come in a huge variety of subjects and can be made to be really specific, targeting to a very niche audience. Lainson said he and his wife listen to the podcasts of some pastors they like, while Smalley would listen to political ones and Catuara listens to sports-focused podcasts. Whatever the niche is that students are looking for, they are sure to be able to find it in podcasting.

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