Why aren’t podcasts more popular?

The idea seemed liberating. Anyone could put out what was basically a radio show, and consumers could listen to them pretty much anywhere on an MP3 player, or on their computers at home. It is not as if podcasts are hard to find. NPR has podcasts, the Tomopop mentioned in a prior blog entry has their own podcast, a look on iTunes reveals celebrities and random individuals have podcasts on a number of subjects. The content is certainly out there. Yet, podcasts lack much buzz.

If you ask somebody what blogs they read, most, particularly if they are younger people, will follow at least one, typically more. But ask them what podcasts they follow, and some might not even know what a podcast is, let alone follow one. But why is this? Is the combination of modern technology, typically the province of the youthful, with talk (not necessarily political) radio, typically the province of the more elderly, simply a doomed combination?

NPR has listeners. When my local NPR station needed to raise thousands of dollars from listeners, listeners came through with thousands of dollars. There is certainly a desire for independent radio news. So then why the cold shoulder towards podcasts, which seem like such a natural evolution in independent and public radio? It could be that the idea will simply never catch on in a big way, or perhaps they simply need more publicity. Podcasts often seem pushed to the side or tacked on, despite typically offering compelling programming. Potentially, if they were given a greater spotlight, they could gain popularity. Or the truth will be cemented that consumers do not really care about the evolutionary steps of radio journalism, which would be a pity.

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