Podcast: (noun) a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.
The term “podcasting” was first used in an issue of The Guardian in February 2004 by journalist Ben Hammersley. Earlier that year, the first form of podcasting was developed by former MTV veejay Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer. Curry created a program that allowed him to download Internet radio directly onto his iPod. This original program was later expanded by numerous developers and, as a result, podcasting as we now know it was born.
(Although podcasting was not officially developed until 2004, the basic idea behind it dates back to the 1980s. It was known then as “audioblogging.”)
By June 2005, Apple had added podcasts to its iTunes. This gave listeners the ability to subscribe to and download the episodes via iTunes, meaning that a separate program to download podcasts was no longer necessary. That same year, “podcast” was designated as “the word of the year” by the New Oxford American Dictionary; the word was then added to the dictionary in 2006.
Unlike many other forms of media, podcasts are free from government regulation. They do not have to conform to the broadcast decency regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission. This, combined with the fact that there is no license required to broadcast, means that almost anyone can start a podcast. This has resulted in a plethora of shows that have started up during the past 15 years. Earlier this year, Amplifi Media reported that there are “roughly 540,000 podcast titles and the number rises by about 2,000 every week.”
This number may seem outlandishly large, and in some ways it is. While getting a podcast started is easy, sustaining one seems to be a different story. Approximately 75 percent of the podcasts that have been on the Internet are now no longer in production.
However, despite how many podcasts have faded away, listeners seem to be more interested than ever. According to an article published by the “The Economist” in 2017, a study by Edison Research estimates that 67 million Americans above the age of 12 listen to podcasts at least monthly, and that approximately 42 million people listen to podcasts weekly.