Podcasting may have started as an occasional, recreational pastime for natural techies with extra time on their hands – but that was then. Today more than 35 million people listen to podcasts weekly.
Here in the U.S. there are as many podcast listeners as there are Twitter users, and their interests are as vast as our population - sports, tech, politics, pop culture, and even comic book fans have a podcast to claim for themselves. It’s an ever growing medium in both users and influence.
On May 4, Bell Works, also a growing, changing medium (with a long history of tech innovation) will host a panel discussion to dig into what’s next for podcasting.
This will be the first event in Bell Works’ newly renovated auditorium, part of the building’s renovation as a Metroburb. Bell Works is the latest incarnation for the former Bell Labs building that once housed the engineers and scientists that discovered the Big Bang theory. From the invention of the transistor to telephones to the world’s fiber optic network, Bell’s legacy is one that embraces the new and the next.
The panel includes: Ming Chen and Michael Zapcic, co-stars of AMC TV’s hit unscripted show, Comic Book Men, and Felecia Wellington Radel and Alex Biese, hosts of the popular podcast, Fan Theory. On stage the four will do what they love best -- talk about pop culture. Both teams’ weekly shows blend banter about real life with special features like movie reviews and fan favorite guest interviews.
The podcasters will be joined by Neil Mody, president of SpareMin. Based in New York City, SpareMin developed new technology currently being used by major media outlets to do on-the-spot audio capture and upload that allows users to produce relevant, relatable content in real time.
All panelists will share their experience as podcasters and their thoughts about the future of podcasting.
Podcasts are an evolving source of content that can be seamlessly integrated into other media across multiple platforms. The medium is experiencing a surge in popularity with news media, marketers and business owners who are all looking for new ways to deliver engaging, meaningful experiences to both established and potential clients, customers and community.
In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 3.3 billion download requests. Listeners are affluent, well-educated and 38 percent of them are millennials.
"Podcasting is not only here to stay but it could become even bigger than blogging. Podcasting captures the most primal, instinctive mode of communication, just two people talking, better than any other medium," says Neil Mody, President of SpareMin.
Fan Theory will provide a big picture view of corporate-backed podcasting linked to an established media resource (USA Today/Gannett). They will also discuss how podcasting helps build community and feeds into other conversations that open doors to affiliated business opportunities, including the creation or enhancement of events based on a podcast and its fan community.
“Podcasting is a new way to reach audiences for the news and media industry,” says Wellington Radel. “As technology evolves, so has audio — niche audiences are able to look for, find and engage with what interests them most.”
Mike & Ming will bring the ‘organically grown’ experience of podcasting to the table – building an audience and message around a very personal/personality driven passion. They’ll also share experiences about using podcasting to promote a strongly held, personal agenda, ie: a more inclusive society; a culture that values storytelling and shared goals and aspirations; and encouraging the ‘average geek’ to get creative and create something that celebrates what’s important to them in their lives.
“Podcasting is personal. It’s usually not heavily scripted or edited so listeners can feel good about experiencing something that feels honest because most of the time, it is,” Zapcic said. “That can be good and bad,” he adds, laughing.
The panelists will take questions from the audience, and are even hinting at a special opportunity for audience participation at the event.
In addition to an hour and a half of some of the best discussion around on the Jersey Shore, guests will leave with an emphatic charge issued by Ming Chen, who would be perfectly happy if everyone attending the May 4 event exited the auditorium and immediately launched their own podcast:
“The future of podcasting was prophesied 27 years ago, and today has the potential to be fulfilled. It was shouted out to the masses by Christian Slater in the 1990 movie 'Pump up the Volume' in reference to pirate radio. Podcasting is the illegitimate child of pirate radio and the quote goes a little something like this:
‘I'm calling for every kid to seize the air. Steal it, it belongs to you. Speak out, they can't stop you. Find your voice and use it. Keep this going. Pick a name, go on air. It's your life, take charge of it. Do it, try it, try anything. Spill your guts out...you decide. Fill the air, steal it. Keep the air alive--TALK HARD!’
Here's to everyone out there finding their voice and talking hard via their own podcast.”