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Updated: Feb 2, 2023

What is a podcast?

The last 4 years or so have seen a significant increase in the popularity of content known as podcasts. Many of these are monetized in the form of sponsorships, and a good living can be made from the income. So, what is a podcast exactly?

Podcasts are pre-recorded, often downloadable digital files (either audio or video or a combo) of episodes of a series of either topic-specific or niche content. The real differences between live radio and podcasts are that podcasts are unregulated and don’t really follow a specific schedule. Podcasts also have a nice long life span, and the listener can download them to a device for easy access listening. Whereas broadcasts are considered the transmission of video or audio content via an electronic communication medium to an identified dispersed audience.

Characteristics of podcasts

There are many types of podcasts and they are theme-specific, so they are strictly up to the point. Podcasts can take the form of interviews, monologues, storytelling, a lecture, performance, or other event and they might even be theatrical (think radio drama).

Many radio stations use adapted content or repurposed podcast which is simply an edited part of the ’highlights’ of an already broadcast show.

On the technical side, the defining points of a podcast are:

• Podcasts are usually offered in a standardized format, either as audio or video, so that your listener /subscriber can enjoy the content in the same format each time.

• They have a specific length, typically from 2-15 minutes. Some are longer.

• And they feature one or more recurring hosts that are topic specific or a current event. The key difference between a podcast and a vlog is that the content of a podcast is based on audio while the content of a vlog is based on videos. A podcast is a digital audio file, whereas a vlog is a social media account or a personal website that has video content.

I have included a podcast for Newton park Animal Hospital for you as a nice example of a podcast. There has been an outbreak of rabies in Nelson Mandela Bay (Gqeberha), and the podcast is information on rabies. Listen Here:

The differences between live radio and Podcast

1. Radio is regulated and requires license compliance, in the form of reporting and payment of license fees for copyright. Podcasts are mostly unregulated (but you can’t use copyrighted material unless you have cleared it-paid for the usage).

2. Live radio is well, live. Any fluffs or errors can’t be edited out before they get to the listener, so this adds some ‘personality’ to the show and can result in beautiful spontaneous moments that bring out the characters of the presenters and keep the audience engaged. However, with a podcast, you can record and record sections and then edit them into one final polished ‘flawless’ version of the content. Depending of course on your deadline for delivery/broadcast/airing/uploading for download; and how much studio time and technical expertise you have available.

3. Radio is instant. Once a show is on it plays out for a set amount of time including station drops, links, adverts, songs, and so on. Once it has run its time slot, the next show starts. A listener isn’t really going to go back and relisten to a complete show of say 3 hours including adverts and interviews and the like. So, what radio stations are doing now, is editing the shows into shorter versions (podcasts), highlighting the best bits of the ‘live’ shows.

4. Radio needs to appeal to a mass audience and so focuses its content creation on a wide range of topics that are accessible to listeners that are designed to keep the listener tuned in. This is so you can grab a listener's attention keep them engaged for return listening and then also attract new listeners. Podcasts are very niche and topic-specific, so the audience for a podcast will be a very specific audience, that will be actively searching for the specific topic of the podcast. This is why it is so important to use correct and precise tags and titles for your podcast so that you can attract your specific listener easily when they type in keywords to a search engine.

5. Live radio has to stick to a live schedule and this is based on clocks. If a listener tunes out halfway through a show, they will have missed an entire portion of a show and this is why presenters often reintroduce themselves or identify themselves in a show, and the station id, as well as the topic of conversation, are repeated often. Podcasts offer the listener the opportunity to navigate through the recorded material and pick up or repeat or move forward or backward to suit their listening schedule.

What Do you need to create a podcast?

A computer with a nice Soundcard, good quality microphone, and audio software (DAW) for recording and editing your voice; such as Audacity, Logic, Cubase, or Protools. Nice set of headphones. Internet connection. The site to place to host or post your podcast. YouTube Channel, website, or something on Apple or Spotify.

A nice quiet area. An interesting topic. A great script. A good speaking voice. Technical ‘know-how’ to be able to capture/record and edit your material to a high quality for distribution/broadcast.

If you have an interesting topic and great script and a good speaking voice, but don’t have the quiet space or technical ‘know-how’; then contact us at the studios for a quote on helping you get your material broadcast ready!

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