Long-form, narrative radio—that’s the kind of radio many of us dreamed of doing when we started in the business, before so much of it, for reasons both economic and stylistic, became four and a half minute chunks of airtime filled with cribbed wire copy and bad phone tape.
Both the great radio and the mediocre get turned, often auto-magically, into mp3 files. Those files are then shoved up on a server somewhere for you to download to your PodBerry or whatever.
And this, they will tell you, is podcasting. Or maybe they’ll be a little more truthful and call it “time-shifted” radio. I sometimes call it “recycled” radio.
Don’t get me wrong. Recycling is good for the audio planet. It’s great that you can stuff hours of potentially quality stuff onto a minuscule machine, encase it in a sweat-proof nano-sheath, and then listen to Diane Rehm while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. (Remember, the p-o-d in podcasting stands for “Portable On Demand.”)
But that’s it? Seriously? That’s all we are going to do with this amazing new medium for engaging unsuspecting audiences in unexpected ways?