By Kirstin Karoub
September is almost over, bringing crisper air and shorter days – and International Podcast Day. Kids are back in school, carpools are in high gear, and the morning commute is longer and slower than it was over the summer.
Based in the Motor City, many of us are spending more time in the car this fall. For me, short distances between destinations make any kind of quality listening impossible.
Thanks to the magic of podcasts, though, I can listen to a show in its entirety when it fits MY schedule, rather than sitting in the grocery store parking lot or outside a client’s office, waiting for the upshot before I kill the engine.
I have a totally new perspective on podcasts these days – not only because of the convenience they bring ME, but because I am producing the Make Meaning podcast for our company.
Which means that on September 30th, we’ll be celebrating, since it’s International Podcast Day!
Now in its 5th year, IPD enthusiasts can take part in a 30+-hour schedule of podcast speakers, events and people’s choice awards, offering plenty of ways that everybody – podcasters and listeners alike – can celebrate this new era of podcasting.
Even though 70% of Americans age 12 and up are familiar with podcasts, many still don’t know what a podcast is.
In layman’s terms, a podcast is an internet-based, on-demand audio program. That means you can click on a podcast anytime, anywhere, and listen to your favorite show at your convenience through a computer or apps on a mobile device.
Podcasts live on producers’ websites, or streaming platforms like Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, and Stitcher, to name a few. (There are many!)
Invented in 2003, podcasts were originally conceived as a way to create syndicated audio blog posts. Since those early days, the podcast industry has evolved from a medium reserved for the tech-savvy to a mainstream entertainment source, forever changing the way we consume audio programming.
According to Edison Research, in 2006 only 22% of the American population aged 12+ were familiar with podcasts. That number has risen to the aforementioned 70%, with listenership increasing from 11% to 51%.
What’s So Great About Podcasts?
Podcasting provides flexibility and reach that traditional radio broadcasting can’t.
The barrier to entry is low. In 2006, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated how to produce a podcast on his iPhone using the Garageband app. Many platforms host podcasts free of charge.
Plus, podcast hosts aren’t accountable to FCC regulations or radio station sponsors, allowing them tighter content control, and more freedom of expression. (No one’s warning them to watch their language!)
Finally, podcasters benefit from the internet’s global reach, rather than relying on the signal strength of a radio station.
Some downsides to podcasts (yeah, they exist) include often being described as “narrowcasting.” Since the content focus is often quite specific, podcasts might reach a smaller, more targeted niche audience than a radio broadcast would.
I still think the benefits outweigh the challenges, though. For the listener, podcasts offer accessibility and choice. Choosing when you listen, how you access podcasts, and even what podcast you listen to provides a kind of convenience that radio cannot replicate.
What’s YOUR Why?
Podcasts exist for many different reasons – to educate, to entertain, to inform. Many are marketing tools – another channel to communicate brand image, services, or thought leadership.
Breakthrough shows might generate income, either through sponsorships, crowdfunding, or paid subscriptions. However, most podcasts are born as labors of love or a platform to share ideas rather than a revenue stream.
Our firm, Your People, LLC, produces the Make Meaning podcast, hosted by Lynne Golodner, journalist, author, entrepreneur and Chief Creative Officer. The Make Meaning podcast shares stories of people who find meaning in their work, pursue purpose in their lives, and make a difference in the world.
We’ve had some great guests since the podcast launched on July 9, 2018 – Lynne’s father’s 80thbirthday. (Lynne’s best business and life advisor, her dad, Norman Cohn, was the first guest – listen here. He also rejoined us to celebrate our one-year anniversary in this episode.)
Just as we work with our clients to develop their foundational stories of purpose and mission, that feed into marketing and communications strategies, we continue that theme on the podcast, identifying incredible people who make meaning every day.
Some of our favorite episodes that scored strongly with listeners include:
- David Dwaihy, one of the founders of Detroit City Football Club, talks about building community through a loyal, supportive fan base whose infectious spirit inspires positive change in the city around this global sport
- Marianne Simon, a writer and performer, who debuted her one-woman show in June of 2019 focused on dealing with grief over the sudden loss of her husband
- Farmer Stephen Payne of Sacramento Waldorf School, who teaches students to listen to their inner voice, identify their passion, and apply practical life skills that they learn on the school’s 3.5-acre farm.
There are so many more episodes to discover. As of this writing, we’ve published 52 episodes, with some pretty inspirational individuals. Check out a conversation with Zingerman’s founder Paul Saginaw here, an exploration with Henry Holt Executive Editor Barbara Jones here, and a two-part podcast on Saving the Bees here.
We’ve loved all of our guests and topics, and we are excited about some new ones coming soon!
We podcast because we want to lift up the world with stories of meaning and purpose. We podcast to inspire. We believe true value lies in the connection made between storyteller and listener.
Why do you podcast? Why do you listen? What are some of your favorite podcasts and why?
Kirstin Karoub is Marketing Manager of Your People LLC.