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Podcast Studies

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‘Just because you play a guitar and are from Nashville doesn’t mean you are a country singer’ The case for Podcast Studies.

In 2017 the term “podcasting” became a teenager. Like any teenager it is now increasingly rebelling against its parents, experimenting with new practices, and behaving in a way that the older media might find in-appropriate. Podcasting has evolved from a space where remediated radio programmes dominated, into a ‘Second Age of Podcasting’ of podcasting (Bonini, 2015). An age where the podcast space has become professionalised, commercialised, and increasingly self-aware. This paper frames a conversation on the place of podcasts in the media environment, through theoretical framing and a small online survey of podcasters.

By reflecting on podcastness we can perhaps reach new understandings and concepts of what podcasting and the key relationship between radio and podcasting. The paper will argue that whilst radio exists in the podcast space, there is an increasing sense that podcasters are defining their own practices and their own identities as producers of work that is wholly independent of radio. It is this sense of difference, that I suggest means there are good grounds to argue for use of podcast studies as a new frame of reference.

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Podcast Studies

  1. 1. ‘Just because you play a guitar and are from Nashville doesn’t mean you are a country singer’ The case for Podcast Studies. CRMCS Seminar, October 23rd 2017 Richard Berry @richardberryuk
  2. 2. Framework • Small online survey of podcasters • Cross reference to work on YouTube and Blogging • Defining the podcast as a medium and a field of study
  3. 3. Hey, but aren’t podcasts just another type of radio? Loading Paper….
  4. 4. Gartner’s Hype Cycle Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Modelling Podcast Growth Serial Listeners
  5. 5. • Podcasting as “an alternative delivery mechanism wherein the CBC’s podcasts largely serve as promotional paratexts for this source radio programs, the radio service, and the broader CBC brand” Where “for many major media institutions and their users, the format continues to be more about extension than disruption” • (Christopher Cwynar, 2015) “Like VCR for the radio”
  6. 6. “…Radio can be said to have certain characteristics, but the evidence suggests that radio is what history says it is: it has no essence since it has already taken, and continues to take, different forms. Radio is what it is at a given time, in a given context of use and meaningfulness..” (Jo Tacchi, 2000
  7. 7. The case for radio • Historical line from the Hindenburg to Serial • Radio can be divorced from technologies (Convergence) • Do labels matter anyway? • Radio subjugates the podcast space as another distribution platform
  8. 8. Distributed content / highlights / curated feeds /displaced content / bespoke content 5 shades of remediation
  9. 9. Podcastness Radioness A Pantone of Podcasts
  10. 10. CorporateIndependent RadioCross-media
  11. 11. The case for the defence • Podcasting is more than just a platform • It demonstrates ‘mediumness’ • If we discount technology then we judge by form and how participants define the practice • “podcasting doesn’t have to be different but I think makers do feel a little more liberty with the form, thinking of themselves as podcaster versus radio producers” (Julie Shapiro (PRX) quoted in McHugh, 2016)
  12. 12. ‘The medium is defined by the practice it supports and the ways in which one identifies with that practice…The boundaries of blogs are socially constructed, not technologically defined. Yet, the technology plays a heavy role in shaping the resulting forms’ (danah boyd: 2006)
  13. 13. ‘Podcasting to me is very different to radio. Simply because you use your voice, the creation and distribution process and business can be very different. Just because you play a guitar and are from Nashville doesn’t mean you are a country singer. Similarly, podcasting and radio can be very different’
  14. 14. • ‘I felt a podcast was like a blog, it was something that amateurs would do NOT professionals …. that was the real breakthrough that it would open up media to all kinds of people whom it wasn’t open to before…. The point was I could do it, that was the point’ • (Dave Winer, 2015)
  15. 15. We basically just talk. If people want to listen, cool. Radio is more performed. since we have a cultural understanding of what is "radio", it makes things easier for those who are trying to understand what we do… Freedom: content, duration, sponsors - these are not afforded to Terrestrial radio At the medium level it's quite different: time shifting, feed subscriptions, audience sharing. At the media level, radio is controlled and different expectations from stations, audiences and advertisers.
  16. 16. “What is happening to podcasting, 11 years after its invention, is its transformation from a do- it-yourself, amateur niche medium to a commercial mass medium: from narrowcasting to broadcasting.” (Tiziano Bonini, 2015)
  17. 17. Medium or Platform? • …A ‘medium’ derives not only from technological capabilities, but also from textual characteristics, industrial practices, audience behaviours, and cultural understanding” (Amanda Lotz, 2017)
  18. 18. Podcast Studies • Views podcasts as a distinct: –Media form –Activity –Listening experience • As a discipline that recognises radio, media and education studies.
  19. 19. Cultural value of Podcasts
  20. 20. • References: • Black, David A (2001) ‘Internet radio: a case study in medium specificity’ Media, Culture and Society 23(3) 397-408 • Bonini, Tiziano. (2015). ‘The ‘Second Age’ of Podcasting: reframing Podcasting as a New Digital Mass Medium’. Quaderns del CAC 41, 18 (July), 21-30 • boyd, danah. 2006. ‘A Blogger’s Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium.’ Article. Reconstruction 6(4) Accessed via: https://www.danah.org/papers/ABloggersBlog.pdf (May 2017) • Bruns, Axel (2006) Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond (Peter Lang, New York, NY.) • Burgess, Jean, and Green, Joshua (2009) YouTube. Online video and participatory culture (Cambridge, Polity) • Fenn, Jackie and Raskino, Mark (2008) ‘Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to choose the right innovation at the right time’ (Boston, MA, Harvard Business Press) • Lotz, Amanda D (2017 ‘Portals. A treatise on internet-delivered television’ (Michigan, Maize Books) • McHugh, Siobhan (2016) ‘How podcasting is changing the audio storytelling genre’. The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media, 14(1), 65-82. • Menduni, Enrico (2007). ‘Four steps in innovative radio broadcasting: From QuickTime to podcasting’ The Radio Journal – International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media 5(1) 9-18 • Meserko, Vincent (2015) ‘The pursuit of authenticity in Marc Maron’s WFT podcast’ Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 29(6) 796-810 • Morris, Jeremy Wade and Patterson, Eleanor (2015) ‘Podcasting and its apps: software, sound, and the interfaces of digital audio’ Journal of Radio and Audio Media 22(2) 220-230 • Murray (2009) ‘Servicing ‘self-scheduling consumers’ – public broadcasters and audio producing’ Global Media and Communication Volume 5(2) pp197-219 • Pedersen, Birgette Sougaard and Have, Iden (2012) ‘Conceptualising the audiobook experience’ Sound Effects Volume 2(2) 88 - 95 • Winer, Dave (2015) ‘A podcast about podcasting’ Blog Post – Accessed via: http://scripting.com/2015/09/30/aPodcastAboutPodcasting.html (October 2017).

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