Podcasting – much to look forward to, say awards organisers across the world

British podcaster Helen Zaltzman. Photo: Next Radio Conference

James Cridland Weekly: Depending who you listen-to, podcasting is the future of radio, and we should all get on it as quickly as we can. Yet, according to Edison Research, only 55% of people in the US actually know what one is (Podcast Study, Spring 2016) – and podcasting is more advanced there than anywhere else.

On both sides of the world, however, podcasting is growing rapidly – fast enough not only for Helen Zaltzman – above – to become a bit of a global superstar, but also fast enough for national podcasting awards to be launched in both Great Britain and Australia.

Dave Gertler from Cast Away, the Australian Podcast Awards, has just closed the entries for this year’s awards. He says that they had 208 different podcasts enter in their first year, and already over 3,000 votes for podcasts in a public category. He says the sector is growing fast. (Disclosure: I’m a judge in this year’s awards).

Matt Hill, a podcast producer and co-founder of the British Podcast Awards, has just opened their entry process (and they’re open until 6th March). He says that awareness is growing of the medium. “I still answer the ‘what do you do for a living’ question with ‘have you heard of podcasting?’ – to which the response is I’d say a 50/50 split,” he told me via email.

Can podcasts make money? In Australia, indie-produced podcasts appear to be funded by crowdfunding, tickets to shows, merchandise and so on. “It means giving your listeners so much good stuff over time that when it comes to whatever it is you’re selling they are ready to repay you for the great content you offer for free”, says Dave Gertler. Matt Hill thinks there’s opportunities in donations from your audience. “If we in Britain can get over our reluctance to ask, then I think listener donations are an untapped resource. Many popular podcasts here would prefer to sell merchandise – a book feels more palatable to us for some reason – but I think many listeners would support individual shows, if they understood that was the model.”

The type of podcasts being entered into these awards are worth monitoring. While Dave Gertler says that he’s seen podcasts “from some of the biggest names in Australian TV, mainstream print media and broadcasters”, the vast majority are from niche, indie producers. “From podcasts about specialty medicine, to soap opera fandom, to many different sports, video games, movies and self-development – you name it.”

Britain’s Matt Hill adds that, so far, he’s been excited about how many entries are coming from outside London. “We wanted diverse voices of course – podcasting is a low-cost medium – but to see that people across Britain are hearing about it is great. Interview formats are popular – but also fiction, which is great to know.”

Both people, as you might guess, are excited that podcasting now has their own award. “I’m looking forward to bringing the different podcasting worlds together at the awards night,” says Dave Gertler – it’s on 1st April in Sydney and tickets are available, he’d probably like me to tell you.

Meanwhile, Matt Hill is just as keen. “It’s time for our homegrown industry to get competitive, and be proud of what we’ve accomplished.” – so you should probably enter.

James Cridland is a radio futurologist – a writer, speaker and consultant working with the brightest radio brains in the world. He has worked for the BBC and Virgin Radio in London. Join over 2,500 other radio professionals and subscribe to his free weekly newsletter (in English) at https://james.cridland.net

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