I can’t say I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts but I’ve listened to some. We can only hope that people improve over time.
People are used to listening to well-produced programs on radio. They are the quality benchmark. If you expect to get an audience you better make sure your content is damn good because the chances are your broadcast quality is not up to scratch.
Some people will invent compelling content and slowly rise to prominence. They will have to claw their way over numerous no-talents.
The truth is, this is not broadcast radio. I say that despite the fact that public broadcasters like the ABC are raising awareness of the medium by allowing listeners to time-shift their favourite radio shows; Radio National is up to 200,000 downloads per week in Australia.
Podcasting is closer to what’s called narrowcasting; catering to a specific audience who subscribe to a service.
One of the things that distinguishes podcasting is context and this is where the opportunities lie. I’m not interested in tourism information unless I’m a tourist. If I’m a tourist in a new city and there is a good menu-driven podcast covering major tourism facts and destinations, I’m into it. When I’m walking past the Bell Tower in Perth, no that’s a bad example. When I’m walking around the Sydney Opera House I’d be quite interested in a podcast about the history of the building.
You’ve used audio aids in museums and galleries. They really add something. More general tourism programs can be developed that colour the tourist’s experience of a whole destination, not just one of its museums.
A second example of the power of context. Buying real estate. I’m walking around a Home Open. My iPod has a menu that says, “kitchen, backyard, neighbours …”. Each of these menu items contains a short podcast by the home owner or the real estate agent describing the features of the room. “The Louis XIV commode-scriban has a solid cherry inset with burl walnut panels and is inlaid with floral marquetry and cross-banding. Unfortunately it’s not included with the house.”
The new and powerful applications of this medium will be those that augment the visual experience of the mobile user. Think tourism, thing training, think shopping.