[Paleopsych] NYT: Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here

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The New York Times > Technology > Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are 
February 19, 2005

["Are you ready to listen to a podcast?" is appended.]

    GRAND FORKS, N.D., Feb. 16 - From a chenille-slipcovered sofa in the
    basement of their friend Dave's mom's house at the edge of a
    snow-covered field, Brad and Other Brad, sock-footed pioneers in the
    latest technology revolution, are recording "Why Fish," their weekly

    Clutching a microphone and leaning over a laptop on the coffee table,
    they praise the beauty of the Red River, now frozen on the edge of
    town, and plug an upcoming interview with a top-ranked professional
    walleye fisherman. Then they sign off.

    "I'm Brad" says Brad, in real life, Brad Durick, a 29-year-old
    television advertising salesman.

    "And I'm Brad," says Other Brad, a 44-year-old newspaper writer, Brad
    Dokken. "Until next week, keep your hook in the water, keep your line
    tight and keep it fun."

    Their show, mostly ad-libbed, is a podcast, a kind of recording that,
    thanks to a technology barely six months old, anyone can make on a
    computer and then post to a Web site, where it can be downloaded to an
    [1]iPod or any MP3 player to be played at the listener's leisure.

    On an average day, about 100 people download "Why Fish" from its Web
    site. That is not a huge audience, but two fishermen can dream. Some
    popular podcasters say they get thousands of downloads a day.

    Since August, when Adam Curry, a former MTV video jockey, and David
    Winer, an early Web log writer, developed the podcasting technology,
    3,075 podcasts have sprung up around the world, according to a Web
    site, [2]Ipodder.org, that offers downloads of podcasting software.

    From "Say Yum," a California couple's musings about food and music, to
    "Lifespring," a Christian show whose creator said he had a vision to
    podcast, to "Dutch Cheese and American Pie," by a Dutch citizen
    planning to move to the United States, these shows cover a broad
    variety of topics.

    Podcasts are a little like reality television, a little like "Wayne's
    World," and are often likened to [3]TiVo, which allows television
    watchers to download only the programs they want to watch and to skip
    advertising, for radio or blogs but spoken.

    And as bloggers have influenced journalism, podcasters have the
    potential to transform radio. Already many radio stations, including
    National Public Radio and Air America, the liberal-oriented radio
    network, have put shows into a podcast format. And companies are
    seeing the possibilities for advertising; [4]Heineken, for example,
    has produced a music podcast.

    Inevitably, politicians are taking note, too. Donnie Fowler Jr. put
    out "FireWire Chats" by podcast in his bid to become chairman of the
    Democratic National Committee, saying Democrats had to embrace new
    technology if they wanted to reach a grass-roots audience.

    Still, most podcasts are made by people like the two Brads, who record
    from basements, bedrooms or bathrooms, and devote their shows to
    personal passions.

    In Southern California, three men have hit the Top 50 on
    [5]Podcastalley.com, a podcast tracker, with "Grape Radio," a
    "Sideways"-like program about wine. Their expertise? They drink wine
    and like to talk about it.

    There are music podcasts - cover songs, punk and "The Worst Music
    You've Ever Heard." There are many religious podcasts, nicknamed
    Godcasts. Then there is "Five Hundy by Midnight," a Midwest gambler's
    musings on Las Vegas.

    There are podcasts on sports and on bicycling, on agriculture and on
    politics. There are poetry podcasts and technology podcasts.

    In Northern California, Devan and Kris Johnson, young newlyweds, offer
    "Say Yum," recording themselves making dinner and playing music after
    work. (A snippet: "I hope everybody gets to eat avocados.") But they
    are not even the first of their genre; one of the first and most
    popular podcasts is recorded by a young married couple, talking about
    their lives, and sex lives, from their farmhouse in Wayne, Wis.

    There are even podcasts about podcasting and several Web sites, like
    Podcastalley.com and [6]Podcastbunker.com, that review and rank
    podcasts and provide links to them.

    People who study consumer behavior say the rapid growth of podcasts
    reflects people's desire for a personalized experience, whether
    creating a stuffed animal at a Build-a-Bear store or creating
    playlists for their iPods.

    "It's about control," said Robbie Blinkoff, an anthropologist at
    Context-Based Research, a consulting firm in Baltimore that has done
    several studies on how technology changes human behavior.

    "Making something of their own, feeling like they've put it together,
    there's lots of self-confidence in that," Mr. Blinkoff said.

    The potential audience for podcasting is huge; Apple alone has sold 10
    million iPods in the last three years, about half of those in the last
    few months of last year.

    And already, several podcasts have found sponsors. Dave Whitesock, who
    under the show name Dave Miller records the "Miller Report," a daily
    podcast from Grand Forks, got a limousine company to help pay for his
    report in exchange for a daily mention: "For when you need a stretch
    limo in Grand Forks."

    While some podcasters take hours to edit their shows, many simply
    embrace dead air and the "ums" that come with what Mr. Whitesock
    called "Live to Hard Drive."

    Brian Race, a radio station manager in Georgia who runs
    [7]Christianpodcasting.com on the side, picked up his cellphone in the
    middle of a recent podcast to discover his mother on the line. He kept
    on recording.

    The rawness is part of the appeal.

    "Everyone says, 'They're amateurs, they're amateurs, they're
    amateurs,' but sometimes, frankly, it's more interesting to listen to
    someone who's not a professional but who has something genuine or
    interesting to say," said Michael W. Geoghegan, an insurance marketer
    in California and the host of "Reel Reviews," a movie review podcast
    intended for people heading to the video store.

    Mr. Geoghegan said he had "multiple thousands" of downloads a day. He
    does no editing. "People stumble when they speak," he said. "I think
    the listener appreciates when it's not superpolished as it is on a
    commercial station."

    Podcasting has tended to be contagious; after Mr. Geoghegan stumbled
    on a Web site about podcasting in September and started his show, he
    persuaded three friends who like wine to start "Grape Radio."

    Mr. Whitesock, too, stumbled on a Web site about podcasting, and
    persuaded the two Brads to do a fishing show, and then another friend
    to do a movie review show. This month, they added a music show in
    which a radio disc jockey for a local [8]Clear Channel station plays
    local music he would not get to play on the air, and persuaded the
    part-time mayor of Grand Forks, Dr. Michael Brown, an obstetrician, to
    do a monthly show, and put his State of the City address on podcast,

    "We can reach people in the rest of the world who might say, 'Hey,
    Grand Forks is a great place to move to,' " said Dr. Brown, who said
    his shows had been downloaded by about 100 people, including some who
    wrote in with complaints. "And technologically advanced young people
    say, 'I can stay in Grand Forks.' There is a place for them here."

    In California, the Johnsons of "Say Yum" added clip-on microphones to
    their usual after-work routine to create their show.

    "I'm usually cooking, and Devan's usually playing music, so we just
    chat over the music," Ms. Johnson said.

    Brian Ibbott had always loved making mixed tapes and CD's. His
    podcast, "Coverville," has become one of Podcastalley's most popular,
    and in many ways it is like a real radio show, without the
    advertising. Sunday is all-request day, and listeners can call in
    their requests. Mr. Ibbott, 35, plays back their recorded requests
    before the songs.

    "I don't know that I'm doing it so much as a protest against radio as
    I am to develop the radio show I always wanted to hear," said Mr.
    Ibbott, who lives in Colorado. The last great radio station nearby, he
    said, was bought out by Clear Channel. "And they got the same playlist
    everyone else did."

    He pays a few hundred dollars to Ascap and BMI to allow him to play
    copyrighted music, he said, and is negotiating with the Recording
    Industry Association of America, which has filed lawsuits to prevent
    unauthorized music downloading.

    Mr. Ibbott, like the Johnsons and most podcasters, work in technology
    jobs. But then there are some like Steve Webb, who fits his Christian
    show "Lifespring" in between his regular job as a windshield
    repairman. He was on a Cub Scout trip with his son, he said, when he
    woke with a vision that he was to do a podcast.

    "I felt it was leading in the Lord," said Mr. Webb, 50. "I felt he
    wanted to have a voice in this new media. After all, the Gutenberg
    Bible was the first thing printed on the printing press."

    Technology watchers say that like blogs, some podcasts will be widely
    heard and influential, while others may end up with no more reach than
    local access cable programs. But many podcasters, like the two Brads,
    say they are simply happy to have an outlet for their passion. As Mr.
    Durick said, "You love to talk fish if you're a fisherman."


    2. http://Ipodder.org/
    5. http://Podcastalley.com/
    6. http://Podcastbunker.com/
    7. http://Christianpodcasting.com/

The New York Times > Technology > Are You Ready to Listen to a Podcast?

    [1]P odcastalley.com and [2]Ipodder.org offer good overviews of
    podcasting and links to podcasting software. They, and most podcast
    sites, also give instructions on how to listen to and download
    podcasts. [3]Podcastbunker.com culls out the best of the podcasts and
    allows you to listen to 30-second snippets. Here is a sample of

    [4]Graperadio.com - talk about wine

    [5]Sayyum.blogspot.com - cooking and music from a young newlyweds in
    Northern California

    [6]Grandforkscity.com - five podcasts from Grand Forks, N.D.,
    including "Why Fish," the "Miller Report" and "The Mayor's Podcast"

    [7]ChristianPodcasting.com - Christian music and programming

    [8]Curry.com - the "[9]Daily Source Code," podcasting and other news,
    and musings, from Adam Curry, the podcasting developer and former MTV
    video jockey

    [10]Godcast.org - links to several Christian podcasts, including

    [11]Mwgblog.com - "Reel Reviews," reviews of movies on DVD

    [12]Coverville.com - cover songs


    1. http://Podcastalley.com/
    2. http://Ipodder.org/
    3. http://Podcastbunker.com/
    4. http://Graperadio.com/
    5. http://Sayyum.blogspot.com/
    6. http://Grandforkscity.com/
    7. http://ChristianPodcasting.com/
    8. http://www.curry.com/
    9. http://dailysourcecode.com/
   10. http://Godcast.org/
   11. http://Mwgblog.com/
   12. http://Coverville.com/

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