Podcasts are coming of age

Podcasting has been around for a long time now, by internet standards. Anything that lasts more than a few months is long-lived by internet standards, but you know what I mean. Some things have their blaze of glory and disappear, though they leave a kind of legacy, like MySpace. Some things fire into the stratosphere incredibly briefly, incredibly brightly, and then are forgotten forever, like Chocolate Rain or the Star Wars Kid. They live on in infamy, in memory, but that’s about it. So it’s hard for anything, be it a person or an idea, to stick around for any length of time. Of course, podcasting isn’t really like a specific website or internet meme, but it is something that was either going to fly or sink.

With video-casting on YouTube and a website or three in every home, I did wonder back in the day (about 2008) if podcasting would really generate that desired state of normalcy, or if it would be something a geeky few would love briefly, before moving on. Here we are in 2011 and podcasting is ubiquitous. I co-host one myself, all about thrillers and other genre fiction. I listen to loads of them, especially fiction podcasts like Escape Pod and Podcastle. I’m still dancing with joy because my favourite podcast of all, Pseudopod, bought one of my stories recently. I can’t wait for that to come through.

But you know that podcasting is becoming truly accepted when it starts to win awards. Not podcasting awards, obviously, but other awards that have been around for ages and have now started recognising podcasts. I noticed this when I was going through the recently released Ditmar Awards ballot. Here’s the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium nominations list:

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Out of six listed nominations, five are podcasts. Among them are podcasts that I listen to regularly and one of them got my vote. The sixth one is a review website.

Here’s the same category last year:

Best Fan Publication

* Interstellar Ramjet Scoop, edited by Bill Wright
* A Writer Goes on a Journey (awritergoesonajourney.com), edited by Nyssa Pascoe et al
* ASif! (asif.dreamhosters.com), edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Gene Melzack et al
* Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet (bullsheet.sf.org.au), edited by Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner
* Steam Engine Time, edited by Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson

No podcasts.

In the 2010 Hugo Awards, the Best Fanzine award went to StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith. A podcast. It won a Hugo! It is brilliant, but even so it’s a great step in the acceptance of podcasting.

And this is just the genre podcasts that I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are thousands more out there covering all kinds of subjects. It seems that the audio magazine has really come of age. Even radio stations now are offering their shows as podcasts to appeal to people that might not be able to listen at a certain time, or may have missed a show. More power to the podcast, I say, and not just because I’m involved with one. Podcasting is a great example of utilising the power of the internet for good, producing quality, interesting content. Long may it continue.

I wonder when the Hugos, Ditmars, etc. will have an actual Podcast category. It can’t be far off.


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6 thoughts on “Podcasts are coming of age

  1. Sadly, I’m just getting into the ‘lit’/writing podcast stuff. I’m a big fan of the Litopia podcasts, and I also enjoy the ‘Writing Excuses’ cast. Some of them are brilliant, and truly deserve some recognition as legit enterprises.

    Thanks for the information, I’ll have to give some of the ones you mentioned a listen.

  2. I first got into podcasts about five years ago. There weren’t many writing related ones about, but I wasn’t that interested anyway because I wanted podcast listening time to be recreational – not work related.

    Knitting podcasts were booming. There must have been over a hundred. They peaked and then slowly declined, and I suspect this is a natural pattern. There seemed to be a ten episode hurdle where most podcasters gave it up as too much work. Then there were ones where one or all of the hosts’ life changed and podcasting went by the wayside. Interviewers ran out of people to interview. Podcasters began repeating themselves. But there are a few good ones still going. In particular the podcasts with the most structure lasted well, probably because the hosts were good at organising themselves.

  3. Wow, I’d have never thought there’d be so many knitting podcasts! But that’s a great example. I bet there are loads for fishing, cars, hiking in the Andes and goodness knows what else. But you’re right about the attrition rate. I know our ThrillerCast wouldn’t still be going without all the hard work that Dave puts in – it really is quite a chore to regularly produce a good podcast.

  4. I’m trying to think of the pop culture related podcast from a few years back, where one of the hosts was in character as a zombie. Weird stuff, but oddly enough it worked. 😀

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