Podcasts have been on the ascent for years, and now it’s never been easier to produce your own and get in the mix.
Have you ever eyed someone suspiciously after noticing them sporadically laughing out loud on public transport? Chances are they’re listening to a podcast.
Interest in podcasts has grown exponentially in the last ten years, with most media and entertainment outlets producing exclusive episodes on a weekly basis to satisfy demand. In fact, so diverse is the range of podcasts, whether your interest is topiary, vintage Star Wars figures or early 18th century Napoleonic battle tactics, there’s almost certainly something that will satisfy.
While the concept of listening to ‘audio blogs’ predates the introduction of the internet, it wasn’t until the mid 2000s that the popularity of the newly termed ‘podcast’ began in earnest. And while the iPod has since gone the way of the floppy disc, podcast user engagement has grown.
In a report released by the ABC last year, 91 per cent of Australian adults are aware of what podcasts are, with 61 per cent having listened to one. And one in five Aussies claimed to have listened to one in the last week.
“Based on some Edison (research company) data, I figured out that in 2019, Australians will download 780 million podcast episodes, and that’s a conservative number,” says
creative director of Mushroom Group’s podcast division, Courtney Carthy.
“The hosts of my favourite podcasts are companions, friends, insiders, entertainers and people to argue with.”
The majority of podcasts are free on release and there are over 750,000 currently available, covering an expansive range of topics. Whatever your interests are – whether niche or mainstream – there’s one for you. Podcasts offer complete freedom through selection, and part of the appeal lies in identifying what to listen to next.
“Narrative stories work so well on podcasts,” Carthy says. ‘You can hear the voices and sounds of the story and build the pictures in your head.
“And the content can wash over you without having to read, sit still or do anything other than keep your phone on and your headphones in. The hosts of my favourite podcasts are companions, friends, insiders, entertainers and people to argue with.”
Haven’t listened to a podcast yet? What are you waiting for?!
What is a podcast?
Basically, podcasts are internet talks covering a varied range of subjects that users can download or stream to a device.
How to listen to a podcast?
You can find podcasts via websites or directly through a podcast app compatible with your device. If using a podcast app, use the search function to zero in on a subject of interest or choose from the top ten charts. If you find you like a particular podcast, hit subscribe.
How much time will I need?
Podcasts can vary in length from anywhere between ten minutes to 180 minutes or more. But podcasts can be enjoyed whilst commuting, cleaning the house, walking the dog, or at the gym. The possibilities are endless, and consumption is totally dependent upon your available spare time. If you’re going mobile, all you need is a smartphone and a pair of headphones.
Are all podcasts free?
Most new podcasts are free (users can choose to donate should they wish). However, some podcasters can lock older content behind a paywall.
- The gender listening demographic is 40 per cent male to 60 per cent female.
- 74 per cent of all podcasts are listened to on a smartphone.
- An average of 79 per cent of podcasts are listened through to the end.
- At home appears to be the preference for listening to podcasts.
- Younger people tend to be the most avid listeners, clocking up ten-plus hours a week, while people over 55 around three hours per week on average.
- 1 in 5 people listen to podcasts together.
- 87 per cent of new podcast suggestions are spread by word of mouth.
- A podcast’s description remains the prominent reason for listeners to try a new podcast.
(Source ABC Podcast Research 2018)
So, you think you’re ready to host your own podcast?
You’ve searched the internet high and low for a podcast that deals specifically with a niche subject that interests you, without success. Or maybe you believe you’ve cultivated an angle for a podcast that’s truly unique? Well, the good news is it’s relatively cheap and easy to create your own home podcast set-up if hiring a studio and a producer is beyond the budget.
Essentially, all you need is a computer, software (that you can even source free online), a mic and an audio interface. And of course lashings of creativity and a game plan. But let’s start with the tech.
Beyond a laptop or desktop, you’ll need a mic. These vary in price and, of course, quality. If you’re just starting out and want to experiment with the medium, you won’t want to be dropping hundreds of dollars on a purchase. An excellent starting point is the Audio-Technica AT2020 BK condenser mic – you know you’re in safe hands with Audio-Technica, a brand name synonymous with quality. A good solid build, the AT2020 delivers a crisp, balanced sound and with its cardioid polar pattern, it limits interference from the sides and rear. And for the price, you really can’t go wrong.
The essential accompaniment for your mic is a boom arm. Manufacturers often sell these separately to mics to keep the cost down, but they can be picked up relatively cheaply. Why do I need one of those, you might ask? Boom arms, especially if you’re using a cardioid mic, allow for the perfect angle to be deployed, irrespective of where you’re sat during the recording process. They also help to reduce any incidental shock noise. The Stadium MICARM is a top option for the budget-conscious.
A necessary inclusion to your fledgling set-up. If you’re looking to pick up a good pair of monitor headphones without having to lie to your partner about how much you spent, it’s back to Audio-Technica. We’re not on a retainer here; it’s just hard to go past them for price and quality, especially the ATH-M40Xs that will hit the brief perfectly. Delivering crystal clear audio and a comfort fit to rival headphones four times the price, these are just what the doctor ordered for setting levels and listening to your work.
Finally, to round out the package you’ll need an audio interface. Why? Well, your excellent AT2020 XLR mic has, as the name suggests, an XLR cable connection at the end of the mic. XLR is the professional standard and preferable, if the budget extends, to a USB mic. In short, what audio interface does is take an analogue signal via the XLR port – in this case your voice – and converts it to a digital one in your computer. The Focusrite Scarlett range is the entry point here, but with a robust construction and excellent and reliable functionality, look no further than the Focusrite Solo Gen 3.
Courtney Carthy’s seven tips for starting a podcast:
- Preparation is key. Do your research way before you start to record the podcast.
- Make a pilot first.
- Reflect on what you have done – how long did it take, what could’ve been done better, listen to your own voice. Getting feedback by sending it to friends is a great forum to get an honest opinion.
- Listen critically to the podcasts that you really like and how they were made, and what the podcasters did to make them.
- Be prepared to fail and don’t give up – do it again. Doing the show doesn’t define your podcast career.
- Don’t interview people over the phone. If you have to do a long-distance interview, get the interviewee to record it on their mobile phone and send you the file and put it together in post-production.
- Finally, don’t go into it expecting to make money.