On air, and on iTunes

On air, and on iTunes

According to Wikipedia a podcast is ‘a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio or digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism and portmanteau derived from “broadcast” and “pod” from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players.’

The Merriam Webster Tenth International Collegiate defines “Podcast” as: a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.

So, basically any kind of audio content that’s recorded and made available through channels like iTunes. The question is: does it need to be defined further?

If you look at the iTunes charts, along with all the fantastic original podcasts being created across so many areas of interest, you can’t help but notice the proliferation of content from radio stations.

Essentially, these are recordings from the radio programmes – sometimes a compilation of a number of shows, but more often than not simply a rehash of a live broadcast. It’s uploaded to iTunes as a podcast, but are traditional media outlets skewing the charts and making it harder for people to find original, ‘home produced’ content?

These days radio stations have websites with a ‘listen back’ facility, so if you missed your favourite show, it’s easy to find it. Of course having them on iTunes, in a central repository, makes it handy for listeners and provides a great way of archiving, but they’re reaping the benefits of their already large listenerships and making it more difficult for dedicated podcast producers.

There’s obvious crossover between radio and podcasting, but it feels as if radio has co-opted the new medium to a certain extent. Not because they’re afraid of it, podcasting has a long way to go still to match the ubiquity and availability of radio, but it’s odd that radio stations have been allowed to dominate the iTunes charts without much scrutiny at all.

Could Apple provide a filter on their charts, for example, which would remove radio shows and allow smaller productions a bit more profile?

If you make podcasts, what are your thoughts? Is it unfair that the likes of BBC, RTE, Today FM, Newstalk etc dominate the podcast charts (in Ireland, and this is replicated in the UK, USA etc) with content that’s simply a re-broadcast? Or does it put the onus on podcasters to up their game and produce shows which can make a breakthrough?

Feel free to chip in down below in the comments, all opinions welcome.