What podcasting isn’t — radio

What podcasting isn’t — radio: (Why that graphic? I explain at the end of the post) Doc Searls wants to make it clear that podcasting is not radio and why we don’t want it to be considered anything remotely close to radio, despite the first-generation examples of podcasts waddling and quacking like radio programming.

Quote from Doc:

“…radio is live. Podcasting isn’t. And the fact that it isn’t has an importance that goes beyond the luxury of listening at a time of one’s own choosing. See, radio on the Net is highly regulated. And as long as podcasting isn’t characterized as radio, it has a better chance of staying clear of that regulation.

As I’ve commented here and other places that I see podcasting in the context of time-shifting, organizing and managing a wide range of potential business and personal “sounds” (everything from missed conference calls to school, civic and church events that can be recorded and posted and to which I can, in theory, subscribe to via RSS), I think it especially important for the pioneers of podcasting and their fans NOT to define it by any current format or “programming.” I’d rather use explanations that help potential users understand the concept in different metaphors: “it’s like having a phone answering machine on your iPod, but you get to decide who can leave the messages — and the messages can be programs”…or “it’s like your MP3 player is an audio TiVo where you can tell it to record that sales meeting you may have to miss.”

That way, podcasting will not be viewed as competition for broadcasters and therefore a playground for regulators…but will still provide those who want the freedom to create their own audio distribution channels to use whatever format and business model they desire.

(Why the WSM graphic on these iPod posts? Believe me, this is one of those times like when, if you have to explain the “joke,” it’s not really that funny. However, WSM is the 50K watt AM station in Nashville that is home of the Grand Ole Opry. The absolute first post (other than the word test) on this weblog was a rant against the station’s ownership. (Thank god, they didn’t act on that lame idea.) Recently, I learned that when the Grand Ole Opry first aired on November 28, 1925, the program consisted entirely of an 80-year-old fiddler named Uncle Jimmy Thompson sitting in a chair in front of a microphone playing tunes from his thousand-song repertoire. That was the origin of the oldest continuously-aired radio program in the U.S.: an 80-year-old guy sitting in front of a mic playing fiddle tunes. (Soon — and this didn’t take long — it became clear that Uncle Jimmy wasn’t generating high enough numbers among the all-important 18-25 demo, so management went looking for whoever the young-buck yodeler was back then.) When I heard the first “podcasts” a few weeks ago, there was something that sprang to my mind about Uncle Jimmy, this guy who doesn’t know what words like “format” or “programming” or “ratings” or “FCC” means, just sharing with anyone who’ll listen, the stuff he’s been storing up in his life for a long time. See, I said it wouldn’t be that funny. Anyway, I’ll be skipping the WSM reference in all future blogging about podcasting as I don’t want to connect it in anyway to radio.)