Audio is having a moment. More specifically, digital audio is having a moment; more than half of all audio spend is now digital, a statement that points to the inadequacy of ‘digital’ as a single destination for spend or one area of expertise.
Why wouldn’t it be having a moment? There’s more music being made than ever, more platforms on which to listen. We can listen at home, at work, at school. The humble documentary, once the mainstay of traditional talk radio in the shape of the United States’ NPR, for instance, or BBC’s Radio 4 has been remodelled and reframed, made accessible and put on to our phones in the form of the podcast.
The word ‘podcast’ was first coined by the Guardian newspaper in 2004, where the tech journalist Ben Hammersley was writing about the boom in online radio and groping for a word to describe this new medium of downloadable audio episodes.
It seems that little has changed. What podcasting offered was portability in an on-demand product; easy and cheap to produce using even rudimentary equipment, its accessibility remains one of its hallmarks. It met a moment when users were just acquiring MP3 players at accessible prices, when we began to imagine ourselves as silhouettes with white earphones. “Everything is inexpensive. The tools are available. Everyone has been saying anyone can be a publisher, anyone can be a broadcaster,” the journalist and early-adopter, Christopher Lydon told Hammersley for the article. “Let’s see if that works.” In 2005, Apple added podcasting to its iTunes music store.