Tuning in to Soundwriting

The Bandwidth of Podcasting

by Eric Detweiler

8. To Be Continued?

To Be Continued?: Transcript

Voiceover: Previously on "The Bandwidth of Podcasting."

[montage of clips from previous audio pieces]

[clip 1] "But it's not just about who's listening to podcasts. It's also about who's making them."

[clip 2] "We've got scattered showers across town right now, which is really slowing things down if you're headed in from the south side."

[clip 3] "Hi, I heard you have a podcast." [record static fades in under audio] "I, uh, think you have the wrong number."

[panned to the left] "But is this really a podcast?"

[panned to the right] "If it's meant to be embedded in a digital collection alongside written text, not distributed and circulated independently, maybe not?"

[panned to the left] "I still think it all comes down to distribution."

[deep, menacingly altered voice] "I'm telling you, this distribution stuff is a red herring, and you better lay off it before something happens."

[Jelly-Roll Morton and His Red Hot Pepper's (1926) "Doctor Jazz" begins to play]

Voiceover: In its fifteen years as an increasingly established medium, podcasting has generated a ton of tropes, genres, and conventions. But ultimately, as I've tried to show throughout this chapter and throughout this series of audio pieces, podcasting is not defined by those things. They're interesting, but in the end, what makes podcasting podcasting, what's made podcasts the cultural and media phenomenon they've become, are the ways they're circulated and distributed by radio stations, networks, independent producers, casual listeners, and committed fans. That's what we need to understand to truly appreciate the bandwidth of podcasting—the full range of its possibilities and even its limits. With a podcast, it's not just about the content, but about how that content moves through the world.

I don't know how long the podcasting boom will last. Maybe another year, maybe another fifty. But when the distribution conventions change sufficiently—if we move beyond smartphones, if RSS feeds go totally extinct, or podcast clients close up shop and move on to the next medium—it won't be the next stage in the development of podcasts. It'll be something new, even if it's indebted to something old.

But until then, podcasts only end as soon as they stop circulating, and until I don't catch you next time, on— [sound of phone hanging up]

["Doctor Jazz" fades into foreground]

Audible "Doctor Jazz" lyrics: Oh, hello central, give me Doctor Jazz. / He's got what I need, I say he has / Oh, when the world goes wrong and I've got the blues / He's the man who makes me get out both my dancing shoes / Ah, the more I get the more I want it seems / I page old Doctor Jazz in all my dreams

[song fades out]