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'Podcasting' Sweeps Internet

  • Brian Purchia

Podcasting is sweeping the Internet. It allows anyone to be a talk show host or DJ - on the internet. All you need is a computer, a microphone and internet access. Podcasters record their shows digitally and transmit them via the web to -- as the name implies -- iPods or similar digital audio players. The term podcasting -- is less than a year old -- but thousands of people are creating podcasts on topics ranging from beer to birds.

Brian Russell, a podcaster says, "Today, I'm interviewing Marty Kearns. He's the executive director and co-founder of green media toolshed."

"Thanks, for having me on... its kinda of exciting my first podcast interview," says Marty Kearns.

Brian Russell began podcasting last August. He says it doesn't take much to get started.

"You need a microphone, you need a device to record your audio, and then you need access to a computer," says Brian Russell.

And you need an idea. Brian felt traditional media outlets were not talking about topics that interested him. So, he decided to take a crack at broadcasting his own show on the Internet.

"The constants are my lefty politics, my creative spirit, audio and activism," says Brian.

"If you're planning advocacy and you cannot plan like you did in the '70s and '80s," says Marty Kearns.

Podcasting began to take off last summer when Adam Curry, best known as a former veejay for MTV, the cable music channel, wrote a computer program iPodder that automatically downloads podcasts to any portable device capable of playing mp3 audio files. The program allows podcast listeners - like Shea Shackelford - to scan through thousands of Internet podcasts.

"Then if I got to take off I just synch it up with Ipod, pop the head phones in and then I'm out for the day. I just found this the other night... it was great I was just listening to all the shows I downloaded that day and all of a sudden next thing I know I'm listening to this guy talking to this women who runs a coffee shop in his home town," says Shea Shackelford.

The quality and content of podcasts vary broadly.

"You want to listen to ukuleles sonnets someone out there may have that podcast for you," says Chris Macdonald.

Chris MacDonald is the founder of an independent music podcast - indiefeed.

"Listen up we expect you to be hearing a lot about Taxi Doll in the coming months," says Chris Macdonald.

"I'll adjust the levels of the people talking, and then adjust the levels of the people going out and we'll have wham bam a whole show," says Brian.

Politicians, companies, and traditional news corporations have begun to show interest in podcasts, some even have their own, because they see a potential to reach millions.

"Every party I go to, every reception, every whatever I find myself running into several folks, who are just like, I'll say, 'blah... blah... blah... I'm trying to get into radio,' and they're like do you know about podcasting," says Shea Shackelford.

Some are convinced podcasting is going to change the way information is distributed.

"You choose what you want to hear. You get it when you want it. You download it when you have to time. You listen to it when you have time," says Chris Macdonald.

"This is a way to do broadcasting without actually having to have broadcasting capability, no towers, no satellites, no nothing, and none of it is is FCC regulated," says Shea Shackelford.

"I think traditional radio like anything any other business that's been confronted with new disruptive technologies, that they're going to adapt or die," says Chris Macdonald.

But there are major technological hurdles facing podcasting. Starting with how portable media players are manufactured. Apple owns ninety percent of the market - with their iPod.

"They need to make devices that can allow us to record the audio, convert it to whatever file format you want, connect to network, upload it, and then do the reverse, download it, listen to it," says Brian.

A lot of podcasters hope it doesn't change too much - they like it just the way it is.

"The medium still got this really informal feel to it, even some of the more polished shows. I think it's part part of the appeal," says Shea.

"If I'm famous to fifteen people... whatever famous is... you know and I can communicate to them, then I'm going to be extremely happy," says Brian.

Podcasting has already created some stars, but the technology is still a work in progress.