A Concise History of Podcasting - Senstone

A Concise History of Podcasting

28 May, 2020

According to the statistics provided by Google, more and more people search “how to start a podcast”. Be it the US, Nigeria, Australia, or Canada – podcasting seems to grow more and more popular worldwide.

In no small part due to the accessibility of podcasting equipment, a podcast can be recorded by virtually anyone in 2020. All the more astonishing is the fact that podcasting is a fairly recent invention – it has only been 16 years since the release of the very first specialised program and about 40 years since the idea started to take root.

Before there was internet access in every phone and podcasting software available to any and all, you could subscribe to services which would let you receive audio files. Back then the internet used to be the Wild West of tech, and so it did not take long until the advent of what was essentially independent podcasting.

Internet Talk Radio, launched in 1993, famously distributed its broadcasts “as audio files that computer users fetch one by one” and called this mode of distribution “asynchronous radio” – anyone could pause the broadcast and skip the parts they were not interested in. As witty as the name was, it did not catch on.

Modern podcasting can be attributed to Adam Curry and Dave Winer, who set it into motion in 2004. A former MTV employee, Curry came up with the idea to release downloadable audio files online like one would release episodes of a show. Winer wrote iPodder – a program that allowed him to automatically download broadcasts of various internet radio stations to his iPod. That same year, the word “podcast” (“broadcast for iPod”) first appeared in an article by Ben Hammersby in the Guardian.

The format blew up, and it took very little time for podcasting to become popular. Everyone could – and still can! – find a broadcast to their taste, from science and education to politics and comedy. Dave Winer went on to contribute to the development of RSS feed and other media distribution software, and Adam Curry founded a podcasting promotion company. He still hosts one of the most viewed podcasts on the net.

The popularity of podcasting should not come as a surprise. You need a camera and actors to film movies, you need an instrument and a very specific skill set to become an artist, and you need tools and years of persistence to create art. But if you are brimming with ideas and want the world to hear them loud and clear, you can just grab a recorder and start right away!

While some podcast creators prefer their own home studios, the majority uses portable recorders (in the broadest sense of the word). Conventional digital recorders, smartphones, wearables like Senstone – the number of opportunities is staggering.

If you are looking for advice on how to start a podcast, know this: you are automatically spared the pain of deals and paperwork – unless, of course, you want to go official (podcasting is a constantly growing industry, after all). There is very little regulation, and amateur podcasts can be hosted on the internet under the Creative Commons license. Everyone is equal before the listener, and anyone can find their own audience, even if they are on a different continent altogether.

To those of you who want to delve into podcasting, we wish good luck and all the inspiration, and to the more experienced folk we want to say: stay creative.

If you want to learn more about Senstone, visit the home page. For more blog posts, click here.

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