What is a Podcast?
Before we get started, I think we have to answer a very basic question. What is a podcast, anyway? I mean, what do you say to the ubiquitous person on the plane next to you when you're flying and you've mentioned you're into podcasting or your aunt from Ohio, I'm from Ohio, I can say that. Your aunt from Ohio who hears you're interested in this and wants to get involved, like how does anybody, how do you explain what a podcast is? Any takers? Grab a mic and just. Yeah, don't be shy. (audience laughing) There are no wrong answers.
Usually it's a recorded interview where you're going in depth on a certain topic and sharing information.
Cool, that totally works. Now, here's a very mechanical, jargony definition of a podcast. An episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user's own local computer, mobile application, or porta...
ble media player. Lots of terminology, lots of mechanical. There are other ways to think about podcasting. One of my favorite ways is how a podcast that I love called The Organist introduced what a podcast was through the very first couple minutes of their very first episode and we're gonna hear that now. (organ playing)
Podcast. Out of the billions of thermal tubes inside your computer, through some necessary wires and pipes, into your kitchens, and living rooms, and cars, and office spaces, and halfway houses, a variform bouquet of content delivered with precision and love to you. It's magic. That's the only way to look at it. Magic except it's not magic at all. A podcast is every bit as explainable as your toaster, as explainable as the crushing metals you feel in your chest whenever you think of your father. Never before has so little meant so much to so many. Podcast. Say it with me. Podcast. Please, I don't want to be the only one saying it. (inhaling breath) Can't you feel your lungs starting to burn with the truth of it? And yet there's still so much we can't know. We're just doing figure eights across the surface of it. How about some history? The podcast was invented as a way for people with computers to tell people with computers things through their computers. Some of these things are hey, I'm over here and I have certain feelings, and maybe if we thought about it this way. Through time, improvements have been made on the podcast until it feels ordinary and natural but it's not natural. It's a frozen lake iced over with enchantment and like a frozen lake, this podcast is only here for a short time, and when it's gone, it's just back to being a lake with birds, and reeds, and shit. Where's the enchantment? Uh oh, it's in you, now. All you can do is spread it around. Hello, I'm Nick Offerman. You're listening to The Organist, the podcast of the Believer Magazine and KCRW. (organ playing) Podcast. It gets better with time. It moves outward and upward with inchworm determination. It is here. It is inside you. It is about to begin. (organ playing)
So, another way of thinking about the potential for podcasting. (audience applauding) Due credit to Kevin Moffett for writing that essay that Nick Offerman read and Andrew Leland who produces the podcast. I just love this way of thinking about the potential and the attitude, and the personality that shows can have. So, I think it's a great way to ground us in actually what a podcast can be. I also think of podcasts as education, and journey, and entertainment, and investigations, interrogations of the world around us. There are a lot of ways to think about what these can be, and I think that's really important when you're starting your own is to really think about all of the opportunities and options that you have out there to make something really special that means a lot to you.