Before the internet, radio and television were the primary sources of news and entertainment. But as new technology emerged, information platforms developed along with it. Almost two decades ago, a new form of radio emerged–the podcasts. These are online shows hosted by different people talking about niche topics. It can range from comedy to lifestyle to documentaries to creative fiction. Podcasting is well-known across the globe but here in the country, not so much. We’ve decided to explore podcasting and how it will do in the local scene.
Internet radio takes over
The podcast is a portmanteau of iPod and ‘broadcast.’ As of April 2019, Podcast Insights stated there are 700,000 active shows with over 29 million episodes all over the world. South Korea is on the top list of the most number of people who listen to podcasts. On a global scale, men are the primary podcast listeners and they do so at home through their smartphones. It is also important to note that the majority of loyal audiences are young, affluent, and educated.
Podcast shows range from hobbyists doing a monologue about their interests to journalists and storytellers delivering their research on various topics. Some of these are called documentary features. Britain’s first Professor of Radio Sean Street explained its concept. He said “A documentary feature ‘documents’ the feature-maker’s journey in coming to terms with what he or she is trying to do or say. So it is not a document of the reality – the subject – necessarily, it is a document of the maker as they try to find their way through it.”
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was one of the early pioneers of radio features in the 1920s to 1930s. These take the form of narration coupled with ambient sounds like radio dramas. But compared to radio, podcasts can get talkier. It seems to create an intimate space between the listeners and the show hosts.
So what makes podcasts successful? Harvard Library Director of Organizational Learning Kris Markman explains that it is not so much on podcasts’ status as disruptors of radio but rather “… as a platform that has breathed new life into established, and in some cases largely forgotten tropes and forms.” Internet radio is taking audio story-telling to new heights with new and creative content that cater to niche audiences.
Bringing the trend to the local scene
In other countries, podcast listeners can download shows from their official websites or Podcast Alley which gives a rundown of podcasts by genre. Well-known shows include international hit Serial featuring unsolved murder mysteries; You Must Remember This which navigates through Hollywood’s golden age and celebrity topics; and Love + Radio that tells unique and inspiring stories of people from different walks of life.
Here in the country, iTunes and Spotify are the main sources of the podcasts. There are about a hundred shows ranging from society to lifestyle to comedy. Monster Radio RX 93.1’s Morning Rush is quite popular for its entertaining and substantial programs hosted by sharp-witted hosts. Other local podcasts are The Purposeful Creative by Arianne Serafico which is for entrepreneurs and design thinking advocates; Wake Up with Jim and Saab where the young couple talks about lifestyle, pop culture, and parenthood; and The Manila Folder hosted by KC Jorgensen who navigates topics on leadership and success in the corporate world.
Although there is a variety of local podcasts, there are many shows that stopped releasing episodes. There is also a low number of podcast listeners with how radio remains as the main platform to release immediate content. From sports events to live concerts to special interviews of personalities, radio can bring content as they happen. This sets it apart from podcasts that can also present live programs but can archive certain iconic moments. The online shows need an audio player and connection to the internet. It must also be portable so people can tune in to their chosen programs any time.
With these factors in mind, podcasts are certainly yet to break ground in the country. It can start with consistently releasing broadcasts and having loyal audiences. At present, we can subscribe to active shows and enjoy the unique content they broadcast.