Home Radio Killed The Podcasting Star

Radio Killed The Podcasting Star

Podcasters are to radio what bloggers are to newspapers: independent voices taking attention away from mainstream media. At least that was the theory, when professional podcasts and blogs were getting started in the 2000s. But unlike blogs, podcasts by indie voices have not gone on to seriously challenge the mainstream media incumbents. Where is the Ariana Huffington of podcasting? Can you name a political podcaster who’s had the same impact as Josh Marshall and his Talking Points Memo blog? Sadly, there are no podcasting stars – and it’s all radio’s fault.

Five years ago on ReadWriteWeb, Alex Iskold wrote an article that asked: Will Podcasting Survive? Here in 2012, podcasting is clearly still alive and well. But it’s mainly thanks to established radio and TV networks like NPR and ESPN.

Podcasts are audio or video shows that you can subscribe to, typically via iTunes. I’m a subscriber to several music podcasts from NPR and KEXP. NPR Music’s flagship podcast show, All Songs Considered, releases on average one show per week. It’s about 30-45 minutes long and I nearly always make time to listen to it – usually while I’m cooking, cleaning up or walking. But that’s a key issue right there: because podcasts demand all (or most) of your brain’s attention, they have struggled to make an impact in our multi-tasking culture. Budding podcast stars simply couldn’t get enough of our attention.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t successful podcasters out there. In the tech world, Leo Laporte is the closest we have to a podcasting star. After starting with This Week in Tech in 2005, he went on to create a podcast network called the TWiT Netcast Network. It now has over twenty-five shows.

However, with the utmost respect to Laporte, neither he nor any other podcaster has changed the radio landscape like Ariana Huffington or Matt Drudge did to newspapers with their blogs. The Huffington Post was acquired by AOL for over $300 million and is now competing with mainstream media heavyweights like the New York Times and Washington Post. OK, HuffPo was and is an exceptional business. But even its sister AOL site, the tech blog TechCrunch, sold for over $20 million and changed the tech journalism landscape with its insider reporting and subjectivity.

I can’t think of a single podcast that has had that kind of impact on the radio industry. Indeed, Leo Laporte himself is having the most success not on iTunes, but on radio. According to his website, he “hosts a national radio technology talk show every Saturday and Sunday from 2-5p Eastern on over 150 stations on the Premiere Radio Networks.”

A glance over the current Top Podcasts list on iTunes confirms my suspicion. It’s dominated by public radio networks (like NPR and WNYC), along with semi-celebrities who already had a following via TV or radio (like Chris Hardwick and Adam Carolla).

Far from changing the radio landscape, podcasting has been commandeered by the radio industry.

Bonus video:

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.