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The power of podcasts

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

The popularity of podcasts have skyrocketed in recent years and they represent the future of mobile news and entertainment. From National Public Radio (NPR) to “This American Life” to “S-Town,” podcasts can range from simply informative to widely compelling and entertaining.

Podcasts are audio files that can be downloaded from the internet of episodic shows and programs. They can cover a spectrum of topics including politics, sports, pop culture, education and health and fictional storytelling.

According to a study conducted by Edison Research, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast at least once this year, resulting in an 11 percent increase from 2016.

Younger audiences are beginning to turn towards podcasts for unbiased news, rather than newspapers or television broadcasts, due do their specialized nature.

NPR’s website boasts it is at the forefront of the podcast movement for it is listened to by more than 4 million people every week.

Listeners can subscribe to certain channels that discuss topics or concepts they are genuinely interested in or discover something completely new.

Podcast channels allow for hosts who are educated in their area to dive fully into discussions; utilizing their personal experiences, news, interesting studies or guests to support or oppose their positions. They often allow for unique perspectives to be voiced and for content to be delivered directly to you.

This differs from other sources of news where readers often do not read the entire thing or change the channel when uninteresting content or a commercial comes on.

Edison’s study encourages 85 percent of listeners to hear all or most of a podcast. This might seem difficult for newcomers because some episodes can be more than two hours long. Thankfully, podcasts are also inherently portable. They encourage multitasking by not constricting the viewer to one place or one time in order to listen.

They are great to listen to in the car during the daily commute, getting ready in the morning or even during chores. Podcasts offer complete flexibility in where and when people choose to listen and allow the user to pause and come back to different episodes.

They can be downloaded directly to your phone, computer, tablet or more recently, with the help of home devices, such as Amazon’s Echo or Google Home. In more recent years, streaming platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify have incorporated podcasts into their formula with much success.

The acceptance of podcasts into the world of entertainment stem from our increased dependence on our mobile phones. Smartphones encourage our desire for information to be neatly organized and compacted into one device. Podcasts provide one place for both information and entertainment. They are also easily accessible and enable people of all ages to listen.

On Apple Iphones there is a podcast app that contains more than 15 million episodes that can be streamed or downloaded right to the device. There are also free podcasts apps on the market including Overcast: Podcast Player (iOS only), Stitcher Radio (android and iOS) and Spreaker Podcast Radio (android and iOS). Most of these apps also offer a yearly subscription to listen without ads.

Edison’s study predicts an increase in the podcast industry related to data that shows monthly listeners growing from 21-24 percent year after year.

Podcasts represent a more innovative way to receive content and they are constantly evolving to compete with other news sources.



Staff writer

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