Thoughts on Podcasting

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usbOne of my recent personal media projects is a podcast called Analyse Asia, and outlined my motivation behind this new media project of mine. Recently, various authors claimed that podcasting might be back in fashion again. Personally I don’t think that the reasons for the revival of podcasting would affect Asia given that most successful podcasts typically come from the US and Europe. In this post, I sketch out my own thoughts on podcasting and why it has not taken the way like how blogging has done.

For me, podcasting is a personal hobby. I enjoyed podcasting because I am one of those old school people who enjoyed audio as a medium to communicate (and I like to listen to other podcasts out there). For some, it is easy to set up a podcast. The process of recording and editing every piece of interview can be ardous and tedious but my satisfaction comes when the piece of content is published into the open. What makes podcasting fun for me is to have my own personal radio station to chat and discuss the subjects which are dear to my heart. For every episode of my current media project, I have spent at least two hours on average to edit each episode, in addition to the one hour recording time, another hour to upload, publish and distribute the podcast and possibly another one or two hours to research for the topics and speakers to interview. To be honest, I agree with this author on ensuring good quality for the podcast to be easy listening.

I have worked on media for a while but mainly in theatre. Among my successful media projects, I would count an online news portal and a profitable theatre product which I am the producer. Although I have worked on digital platforms, most people do not understand that the real trick in making a digital media platform successful is in the content. Building something and expecting people to come and contribute content are the fastest ways to failure. When I run my product teams these days, I often leveraged on my background in media to improve communication and marketing to the customers.

Let me return to the subject of podcasting. I have a theory why text (blogging) and video works better than podcasting, and why podcasting would not enjoy the kind of attention which text and video for a new platform. First of all, blogging went through three eras: (a) the blogger era where everyone is able to write their own online diary to the time where anyone can host their own blogging site through wordpress or movable type, (b) the microblogging era where people can simplify their communications via twitter (or tumblr), and (c) the current long form content era sparked by the new generation platforms such as medium and LinkedIn influencer publishing and better distribution platforms such as buzzfeed and vox media. The tools on text in all three areas: discovery, curation and distribution are getting better and better. If you have observed, text blogging has evolved from blogger to twitter to medium (and coincidentally by the same person, Evan Williams, who has been involved in building and managing all three digital platforms).

Contrast this to podcasting where as of today, there is no tool which can make your podcast look better as compared to Instagram which can make your images look better with filters. As a podcaster, I like to have a tool which I can do with one click that can help me to make the audio better, for example, remove repetitive verses or redundant phrases by a speaker on the podcast. As of when that happens, podcasting faces an uphill battle in reaching the same stage as blogging. That being said, opportunities do exist out there where podcasting has the potential to be the next best thing after text. One interesting consequence is that podcasting is adjacent to video. If you can perfect the editing tools for the podcasting, you can move horizontally into video. Of course, video editing on the fly is another major project by itself. If we can have a web platform which can help the podcaster to edit his or her work easily and distribute well (and there are a few good podcasting distribution platforms out there), podcasting can move up one level.

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist