Podcasting is fast becoming the default way people broadcast and listen
Positive Internet and our Jellycast venture are veterans at podcast hosting and distribution. Indeed, since we won the Guinness World Record with Ricky Gervais for his podcast, we have hosted a gratifying number of top-rated global media extravaganzas for people like Stephen Fry, and for organisations like the British Council. The most recent in our stable to gain the coveted iTunes top podcast status is Iain Lee's Pocket Radio Show. From an idea Iain and we discussed to a global sensation in mere weeks, this is just another of those unremarkably remarkable success stories that hosted services like we provide have made possible.
Iain, a well-known television and radio personality, has decided to devote his proven talents to podcasting. This is podcasting 2.0: professional, interactive, with the sophistication of a radio programme but with the immediacy of new media. All the finesse one would expect from a professionally produced programme is there: phone-ins, interviews, jingles - the signifiers of "proper" speech broadcasting that just a few years ago would have demanded the backing of a huge established media-organisation to marshal, but today require little more than a microphone, a laptop and an affordable mediacasting account with Positive Internet or Jellycast.
Iain's podcast represents an increasing trend in online audio. In the early days, podcasting was considered either an amateur's game, or a gimmicky adjunct to a "proper" broadcaster's output. As the medium has evolved, an increasing number of professional people are focusing on podcasting as their primary or even sole means of communicating with the public. The freedom that podcasting gives creative people has been an obvious lure from the start; as audiences have proven themselves loyal downloaders, an increasing number of popular podcasters are finding that they are able to sustain themselves financially through cultivating this audience, by obtaining sponsors and through democratic patronage from their followers. Podcasters control their own media destiny in ways unimaginable under the old broadcasting hierarchies. This freedom is intoxicating. Listeners enjoy the closer relationship they have with the broadcaster, without the alienation of intrusive middle-men.
In a sense, then, what is remarkable about podcasting is how unremarkable it has become. We take for granted the ability to select and download audio programmes at will. Commutes, flights, jogs and even hospital-stays now seem unimaginable without our favourite stash of comforting audio-accompaniment. And popular podcasts, like Iain's, are garnering tens of thousands of loyal listeners. Just a decade or two ago, the notion of getting radio-sized audiences by recording something in one's front-room and uploading it to a service like Positive Internet's would have seemed absurd science fiction. Now becoming a radio star is simply another in the range of services we offer. We work hard to ensure that our mediacasting bandwidth, reliability, support and speed is second to none, so that we can fade into the background and allow our hundreds of media champions to shine, and some to propel themselves all the way to the top of the charts. Just like Iain has done over the last few weeks.
We're such dab-handed veterans at this now that it's sometimes easy to forget how subtly revolutionary the services we provide can be. It's no longer grandiose theory to proclaim that anyone with an idea and with the talent to communicate it can do so without hindrance - to the whole planet. And that's surely something worth remarking on.