Seth Resler is our resident podcast maven. He's had his own podcast, “Taste Trekkers,” for several years, and also directs the AllAccess podcast. In today's guest post, Seth seeks the wisdom and counsel of some the smartest people in the podcasting space to settle a score that has been brewing for some time now. Enjoy. – FJ
In the podcasting world, there are two types of people: Those who think the word “podcasting” is preventing the medium from reaching its full potential, and those who think that idea is silly. Leo Laporte, founder of the This Week in Tech (TWiT) Network, is widely respected as one of the forefathers of podcasting, yet he has famously shunned the word in favor of “netcasts.” Over the last decade, debates over the term have quietly raged among members of the podcasting community.
I wanted to settle the argument once and for all, so I asked a number of luminaries in the podcasting world to respond to a simple statement:
“The name ‘podcasting' is holding the medium back and ought to be changed.”
Here's what they had to say…
“The history of the world is littered with less-than-elegant show names and handles and identifiers. ‘Cable TV’ was an awful term until HBO and CNN gave it value. Whether it’s ‘podcasting’ or some other term, it’s up to us, producers, to make the term exciting and relevant and sticky by defining it with amazing stuff. ‘Podcasting’ may not be natural until someone produces Serial or Radiolab or Another Round and the broad audience understands what it is. You might ask yourself where we would be if Apple had not created an app for ‘podcasts’ and put it on the home screen.“
—Dean Cappello, EVP & Chief Content Officer of WNYC / New York Public Radio
“The term podcasting is now synonymous with ‘audio on demand,' yet every year someone says we need to get rid of the term ‘podcast' largely because they do not understand the space. ‘Podcasting' as a term is going nowhere. While my personal show is called Geek News Central it is a podcast based on its on-demand nature and the ability to subscribe to it across many platforms.”
—Todd Cochrane, CEO, Raw Voice / Blubrry
“I don’t think any of these people are being held back because they call their show a podcast.”
“I think this argument is a silly one. I see some people suggest we should call it something like ‘on-demand audio.' But do those same people suggest we tell our friends we can't go out on Friday because we have to catch up on our ‘on-demand video' shows? Of course not. We tell them we have to catch up on the latest television show we're watching, even though really it's House of Cards on our laptop or iPad.
We don't feel the need to be literal in describing our video consumption, so I do not see the need to be literal in this instance either. The word podcast has been established, it is becoming more well known, and to me, changing it at this point would just be muddying the waters more, not less.”
—Dan Franks, Co-Founder of the Podcast Movement Conference
“Yes, but each day that goes by with us using the name ‘podcasting' makes it less of an issue holding the industry back. The reality is that we've had almost twelve years of that name and it is locked in— no changing it now, too late for that. Two other points to add: This question has been on podcasters minds' the whole time and no name has ever been found that was actually better. When your have companies the size of Apple, Microsoft, Google and now Spotify which have decided to use the term ‘podcast,' you cannot move to something else easily. I really don't think Apple would be willing to change the name after almost twelve years and 1 billion devices sold. They would be crazy to do so now. We all need to move on from this question once and for all. It is a word in the Webster Dictionary for goodness sake, this question needs to be given a rest.”
—Rob Greenlee, Head of Content, Spreaker
“Saying the word podcasting is hurting podcast growth is like saying the name Kleenex was hurting the facial tissue industry. Technically, a Kleenex is a facial tissue, and you could say a podcast is ‘On Demand Audio.' However, to say it is hurting it's growth is to lose faith in the ability of people to learn and grow. Did the name ‘radio' hinder the growth of receiving electromagnetic waves? Did the name ‘VCR' hinder tapes sales in the 80's? Does the name ‘Blu-Ray' hinder the sales of high definition media? The word podcast doesn't seem to be hurting all the people at the top of the charts. Quit being stubborn. It's called a ‘podcast.' Now move on.”
—David Jackson, Professional Podcast Mentor and Founder of the School of Podcasting
“The name ‘podcast' is not inhibiting the industry's growth any more than other widely accepted technical terms affected their respective growth. ‘DVD,' ‘Blu-Ray,' ‘4K,' ‘radio,' ‘broadband,' ‘DVR,' ‘television,' and ‘internet' are all terms that have wide acceptance, despite their technical meanings. Such terms are used worldwide and most people know exactly what they are, but each of them required time to be more broadly understood. ‘Podcast' is no different—it's an accurate label accepted by the masses, including major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and more. Instead of renaming a term that has global adoption for more than a decade, we should seek to educate the public on this new media and how much they would enjoy it. What is hindering the understanding of podcasts is trying to change the accepted name and definition. It's only confusing people to call podcasts by several different names.”
—Daniel J. Lewis, Host of The Audacity to Podcast
“Nonsense. The term ‘Podcasting' has 50% awareness among Americans. It took ‘DVR' about 15 years to become a mainstream term. That gives the name ‘podcast' another 5 years.”
—Rob McCracken, Director of the Digital Solutions Group, Scripps Media
“I don't think it really matters what word you use for a new technology after a certain point. It's a new word for a new thing and eventually people know what it means. What's a blog? Is ‘web log' really the perfect way to describe all blogs? Maybe not but everyone knows what a blog is.”
—Dan Pashman, host of WNYC Studios’ podcast The Sporkful
“That's ridiculous. You can't buy the attention that's being paid to the medium right now. I'd like to see the list of people that think it needs to change. And to what? Probably research companies or podcasters that aren't making money. That's not us. We and our over 100 advertisers are doing just fine.”
—Norm Pattiz, CEO and Founder of PodcastOne
“Podcasting is dreadful name. No one uses iPods anymore. Podcasts are not broadcast. The only part of the word that's accurate is the ‘ing.’”
“While there are obviously better terms to describe and market the medium, that ship has sailed. It would be a herculean task to get the public that’s already used to ‘podcasting' to switch to some other term that’s less attached to a technology people don’t even use much anymore — Leo Laporte’s noble but ultimately futile effort to get people to use ‘Netcasts' comes to mind — and while I like the term ‘on-demand' myself, I don’t see it getting widely adopted for audio. And I don’t think the name is the problem so much as the ease of listening is the issue: I don’t get a lot of negative reaction from non-listeners about the name, but I do get pushback from people who don’t know how to get a podcast or think it’s just too much effort. Focusing on the latter is, I think, job one.”
—Perry Simon, Director of Programming and Editor Emeritus, Nerdist Industries
“Anyone that thinks that [the term ‘podcasting' is holding the medium back] is an idiot and does not understand the medium. Here is a post I wrote about the name podcast nine years ago. Really, anyone that thinks the name is holding back podcasting really is an idiot. Yes, you can quote me on that.”
—Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations, Libsyn
“The simple truth is this–while podcast consumption has steadily grown over time, awareness of the term ‘podcasting' hasn't grown in five years. Prior to Google's announcement, it was a charming anachronism. Now, the name just seems silly. Will we listen to Googlecasts on Android? In the early days of podcasting the name was a benefit, and conveyed information to early adopters. Today, I don't think it's helpful.
Yes, I know there are a lot of old school podcasters out there who will dispute this. And you should keep calling your shows podcasts, because that's what your audience calls them! But ultimately. the name isn't breaking out, and research project after project I've done with humans tells us that humans are confused by the name. Here it is in a nutshell: Podcasts are to audio what TiVo is to TV–a way to watch the shows we want, when we want to. We don't call those shows ‘TiVoCasts.' We call them shows.” [See original post.]
—Tom Webster, Vice President, Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research
Photo Credit: www.falloncorporatephoto.com for Content Marketing World
When it comes to the term “podcasting,” the ayes seem to have it. And I agree with the majority — while “podcasting” might not be the term that I would use if I were to pick one today, I don't think it's an impediment to the medium's growth.
The third annual Podcast Movement conference will take place on July 6-8th in Chicago. This is the largest gathering of podcasters in North America, with over 2,000 attendees expected. I will moderate a panel discussion with on-air personality Tom Leykis, talent coach and author Valerie Geller, Rob Greenlee (Head of Content at Spreaker), and Doug Berman (executive producer of NPR’s Car Talk and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!). My session is called, “Podcast Makeover: A Live Critique Session with Broadcasting Legends.”
Join Our Webinar
This Thursday at 2pm, I will host a webinar titled, “How to Launch a Podcast: An Introduction for Radio Stations.” If your radio station is thinking about launching its first podcast, please join me.