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Podcast Myth Busting


Podcasting as a medium has been around for a long time. Podcasting, the term, was coined in 2004. Like any cool thing that’s been acknowledged by more than two people, certain myths and misunderstandings have cropped up around podcasting over the years. I’m here to dispel a few of them. Here are eight podcast myths ready to be busted!

  1. You need an iPod to listen to podcasts. No list about podcasting myths would be complete without the all-time number one. No, you don’t need an iPod. This myth is not extremely widespread anymore in my experience. With the explosion of the iPhone since 2007 and the iPad since 2010 (not to mention the slew of popular Android and Blackberry devices), the “pod” in “podcasts” isn’t quite as linked to the i”Pod” as it used to be.
  2. Podcasting has only been around since 2005 (or 2004 or 2006 or 2003). Depending on who you ask, podcasting has only been around for about six years. Some consultants use this myth as a selling point, telling potential clients that they’ve been podcasting since it was invented in 2005. While the term was coined in 2004 and support for it added to iTunes in 2005, recording and placing audio files on the internet in a serialized or chronological way has been done since at least the late ’90s. The basic ability to distribute recorded audio online has existed since the dawn of the internet (or even earlier if you consider Usenet). Nobody woke up one day in 2005 and said, “hey, I think I’ll invent doing radio-style talk shows on the internet!”
  3. Podcasters are all amateurs. Kevin Smith, Ricky Gervais, Adam Carolla, Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, Kevin Pollack, Greg Proops, ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery, BBC, ESPN, TMZ, Science Magazine, Vanity Fair, CNN, E!, The Onion, HBO, Showtime, NPR and probably every major radio station where you live. All podcasting.
  4. Audiences expect perfect audio, like on the radio. It seems like if a person isn’t of the opinion that it’s all amateurs, then it must be all about having pefect radio-quality audio. While it’s true that it’s becoming cheaper and easier all the time to sound professional, there are many successful podcasts that are produced using nothing more than a cheap USB headset and the free Audacity recording/editing software. Moving up to pro-level podcasting hardware can improve your sound but it’s not a requirement for success.
  5. It’s expensive to produce quality audio. Let’s talk about a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being your voice recorded through a tin can and 10 being perfection. With a $30 USB headset and free software, you can sound like a seven, maybe an eight. That’s not expensive. True, if you want to sound like a nine or a ten, you’ll need to pony up some cash, but even a budget under $1,000 can get you all the way to the top of the scale.
  6. You can’t make money with a podcast. Leo Laporte. Next?
  7. You need to listen with iTunes. Listeners have always had at least one other option in addition to iTunes: listening on the web. Podcasters have nearly always posted their episodes on their own websites for consumption. These days, it’s even more spread out with Zune, Juice, and Winamp, and phone apps like Downcast and Podceiver to name but a few.
  8. It takes too much time. Do you have an hour a week? A fifteen minute podcast with 45 minutes of pre-production and post-production can be very successful. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can reduce your pre- and post-production time and spend less than half an hour on each episode. My post-production, regardless of the length of the episode, is less than 10 minutes because of the experience I have and the automation I’ve scripted. Does that sound like a lot of time? Not to me!

Those are my top eight podcasting myths. What are some that you’ve heard? Want to bust a few of ’em up with me?

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  • Rob Greenlee

    Another basic myth is that Podcasts are only audio or radio shows.  The video podcasting side is strong and growing. 

    You are correct that serialized audio programs have been on the internet since the mid 90’s, the automatic downloading to a portable devices – read this to get more detail – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_podcasting.  This automatic downloading of a media file to a PC started in 2001 via a service called Replay Radio, but the very first automatic download sync process to a portable player device started in 2001 by of all companies “Microsoft”, with a client software program for Windows XP called “Sync & Go” – http://solsie.com/2008/04/why-microsoft-is-still-ignoring-podcast-on-windows-mobile/.  Just giving the credit to the right places as many just don’t know or it has vanished from the search engines.

    I know because I had my own radio show “WebTalkGuys (WebTalk Radio) on Sync & Go back then and offered downloadable mp3’s from my website in 1999.

    Rob Greenlee

    • Daniel M. Clark

      Thanks, Rob! You couldn’t be more right – video podcasting is very strong and is only getting stronger as the equipment needed to produce it comes down in price and becomes easier to use. Although I focus exclusively on audio – for now – podcasting is definitely more than just audio.

      And thanks for the history lesson – I love learning stuff like that. Information about this stuff tends to be fragmented and hard to find, as you’ve shown. Someone should write the definitive History!

  • Anonymous

    Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to learn. I love to listen to them while I walk. I have been doing my own for about a year now. I think it is an awesome way to share more about what you do.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Daniel M. Clark

      and thanks for the comment!
      I don’t listen to podcasts while I work because I can’t split my attention and still get things done, but I listen while on bike rides. It’s a great way to spend 30 minutes!

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