History Of Podcasting: From Audio Blogs to Mainstream Media

History of Podcasting Photo
Image Credit: historians.org

Podcasting is the production and distribution of audio files using RSS feeds to make digital recordings available for download to a mobile device or computer.

Do you know Podcasting has come a long way and has been in use since way back in the 1980s? Podcasts, like we’ve come to know as recorded digital audio files downloaded via RSS, didn’t have a loud celebrated launch at the start. It had been in use since the ’80s as Audio blogs where people could share their views in the form of recordings.

How then do we still have podcasting?

Well, not until the 2000s when software developer Dave Winer and former MTV Video Jockey Adam Curry came together to find a means of downloading online radio broadcasts to an iPod. They introduced the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) with a programme called iPodder which allowed the extraction of audio files and automatic distribution to iPods. This particular invention, made by Adam Curry and Dave Winer, started the rise of podcasting as it gradually began to gain its ground in the media world. And the name ‘podcasting’ was then formed from iPod and broadcast by a writer from The Guardian Ben Hammersley in 2004. 

In the same year, Libsyn and Podtrac came into existence. Libsyn, known as Liberated Syndication, Inc was the first podcast service provider that offered storage, RSS creation, and later statistical tracking tools. While Podtrac was the first service provider to offer free download and demographic surveys. Other platforms like Anchor, Spotify, Buzzsprout, etc later came into existence.

Fast forward to 2005 when podcasts were introduced into the iTunes device by Steve Jobs the founder of Apple. This was an upgrade as users could now subscribe to as many podcasts and download offline to their iPods. In no time podcasting became fast-growing in the social media world and became a storytelling tool for entertainment and education. In the same year, the podcast was awarded by the New Oxford American Dictionary ‘Word of The Year’ as it made 100 million plus searches on Google. And George Bush became the first President to deliver his weekly address in the form of a podcast in 2005. Safe to say podcasting thrived on the iTunes platform as people easily had access to podcasts. And in 2013, Apple announced 1 Billion podcast subscribers. As stated by Techcrunch, in 2018 Apple featured more than 500,000 podcasts in over 100 different languages.

According to an article written by Forbes in 2022, it was stated that they assume the increase in people making podcasts was caused by the number of people who had time to create podcasts at home due to the world pandemic. They also recognized a good number of celebrity podcasts as celebrities weren’t able to create new TV shows and movies so they turned to the podcasting format. And even podcast listeners were inspired to create theirs.

Where’s Podcasting Now??

Podcasting has expanded beyond the audio format. We now have video podcasts and live-streaming podcasts. Podcasts are now available to individuals and organizations in various sectors (entertainment, technology, etc). Numerous podcasting platforms are available such as Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcast, and lots more which serve as monetization, hosting opportunities for podcasters, and convenience for listeners to discover, subscribe to, and listen to podcasts across various devices. According to the Podcast Industry insights, there are 4,111,500 podcast episodes in existence and still counting. Podcasting has also made waves among Nigerians, especially with the recent launch of Spotify in Nigeria.

Data from Spotify shows that there are over 2.9 million podcast titles available to Spotify listeners in Nigeria although it shows that Nigerians are listening to a mixture of local and foreign podcasts. Regardless, the growth of podcasting in Nigeria has been impressive as we have various niches listeners are interested in such as inspirational talks, religion, lifestyle, and so on. Some popular Nigerian podcasts include “I Said What I Said” by Jola Ayeye and Feyikemi Abudu, So Nigerian by Dami Aros, Tea With Tay, etc.

Podcasting has truly evolved! And as technology, audience preference, innovations, monetization opportunities, and the media industry grow, so will podcasting evolve in years to come. 

Daniel J. Lewis. Podcast Industry Insights.
Forbes ( March 10, 2022). 5 Reasons Why Podcast Advertising Has Thrived Through The Pandemic.
Hammersley, Ben (February 12, 2004). “Audible revolution”. The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013.
Techcrunch ( June 5, 2018). Apple Podcasts now hosts more than 550,000 active shows.

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