Podcasting – What is it and who listens?
By now most of you probably know what a podcast is, but let’s define our terms. A podcast is digital audio available over the internet for mobile devices and computers that can be subscribed to and received automatically. What a dry definition, and a broad one too, but it’s from that definition that the magic of podcasting erupts. For nearly any kind of topic you can imagine, there’s likely a podcast for it, and more and more people are listening to podcasts every year. In 2019 there were 14 million more weekly podcast listeners in the US than in 2018. Reduced barriers to entry in production, the saturation of internet connected devices, especially mobile devices for listening, and importantly the maturation and proliferation of popular podcasting platforms that leverage these technologies to automatically feed new content to listeners have led to the rise of the podcast.
How popular are podcasts?
According to Edison Research and Triton Digital, 32% of the US population listened to a podcast in the last month in 2019, compared with 24% in 2017. In the 12-24 age bracket 40% listened to a podcast in the last month. Do you listen to Spotify? What about your kids, nieces or nephews? In the 12-24 age bracket of Spotify users, 53% listened to a podcast in the last month. Further, all weekly podcast listeners in the US managed to listen to an average of 7 podcasts a week!
I interviewed Bethany Lutheran College’s Studio manager Greg Vandermause and artist and Minnesota Valley Lutheran arts teacher Ben Lundsten and got their take on Podcasting (jump to the end to listen to these interviews). As Greg points out you can be doing anything while listening to a podcast. And why not? We’ve been carrying around media players and computers in pockets and purses for some years now, they’re always with us. While you’re out and about doing anything, you can listen to anything, Ben shared the broad gamut of podcasts he listens to and it spans the range from mystery shows to comics, from the religious to cinema and creativity, and he speculates there’s a podcast for everyone, likely even one for crocheting. Like radio, podcasts can be highly produced or made quickly with one or two people in front of a microphone, but one thing that makes podcasts special, according to Ben, is their intimate connection with the listener and the communities that develop around the podcasts.
Podcasting at Bethany Lutheran College
Here at Bethany, studio manager Greg Vandermause has recognized the importance of storytelling and content creation in new media. Students are already consuming podcasts, and it’s important that we match our facilities with the consumption trends of upcoming generations. This year we built a podcast studio to provide students, faculty, and friends of the college with a place to make high quality productions easily. Our podcast studio is equipped with four of the industry standard microphone, the Shure SM7B, top of the line Yellowtec Mika arms, and the Rode Podcaster Pro. It’s that last item, the Rode Podcaster Pro, that is the key to making basic podcasts quickly and efficiently as it’s designed to make the gathering of quality audio with professional equipment as simple as possible. With only a little prep you can even run an entire podcast live to a recording complete with music and call-ins over the phone without a computer, all with just an easy-to-use audio board.
Facilities that simplify content creation would be meaningless without distribution. You can choose a single platform to distribute on, you can even choose YouTube and learn how to leverage the YouTube algorithm to get your podcast listened to by the vast numbers of people on that platform, as many top YouTubers are now doing with their own podcasts. Or, if you want to distribute on audio first platforms including Spotify and Apple there are services like Anchor that are free, very easy to use and make your podcast available on those platforms and more with only one upload.
Discussion and a Challenge
Should you be making a podcast? Do you have something to say and do you enjoy saying it? Do you already have content that is podcast friendly? Do you want to develop a listener base that can listen anywhere at anytime and is actively fed your new content when it comes out? Then you should probably start a podcast! Your podcast can be developed for a global audience, or for a hyper local one.
So, I want to know — What podcast can you imagine? What podcast will you create? Will you speak to the saints across the globe teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness? Will you encourage one another in your region or country by lending counsel? Will you connect us to the stories of the church in far off lands? Will your church or organization find a need in your local city and speak directly to a specific demographic there? This list of questions is too limiting! There are people who need to hear the Gospel, there are Christians that need more of Christ’s love spoken to them in their daily lives, indeed there are so many needs!
In every age the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been spread through the technologies of the day. In Luther’s day the printing press was the powerful new technology, and in our day we have numerous new technologies that can bring us together or drive us apart. Podcasting has enabled you to speak to an audience across the globe like never before, so what will you say?
Listen to the discussion
You might ask me “What did you say?” Well I’m glad you asked! You can listen to the conversation I had with Greg Vandermause and Ben Lundsten. Click the arrow-box and then the play button.
Using Bethany’s podcast facilities
Do you want to make a podcast in Mankato, Minnesota? You can learn more about the Bethany podcast studio by contacting any member of the BLC Studios team:
Greg Vandermause –BLC Studios Manager
Seth Grabow – Production Specialist
Kurt Shrader – KTV Access Coordinator, Stone Path Studios Director
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