Kevin McGowanKathleen Petty and I had a great conversation about the present state podcasting during a segment on CBC Ottawa Morning. The catalyst for the discussion is the recent announcement by Kevin that he’s putting an end to his popular music podcast, The Ruckus.

The conversation largely hinged on the fact that most podcasters produce their podcasts out of passion, or at least out of some personal interest. A three-year run is a pretty good commitment for a hobby podcast. Some television shows don’t even last that long (and they typically have a team of people to distribute the work).

Kathleen was curious about the appeal and future of podcasts. My view is that the future of the independent podcast remains bright. Many podcasters are becoming exposed to top quality, bar-setting content and production, and the tools are becoming more powerful and easier to use. As long as someone can find a niche to fill and serve it well in a unique way, they can create an audience for themselves. Of course, I don’t know that I was complete in my articulation of these points.

I cited YouTube videos as an example. In the early days (and to this day to a certain extent), the average video was poorly lit and had horrendous audio quality. A lot has changed since those days with amateur/personal video. The same can be said of podcasting.

Even the people sitting in their underwear, eating cold cereal in their parents’ basement are stepping up with better podcasts. :)

It occurs to me that we didn’t really give a thorough response to Kathleen’s questions about making money from podcasting. What I didn’t say is that the sponsorship/advertising money never materialized. I expect that has a lot to do with issues like quality of content, quality of technical production, credibility of the producer and the size of audience. Podcasting is a media that lives in the long tail rather than in the mass media rush. The financial opportunities have turned out to be rooted in talent (technical and hosting) resulting in production and consulting companies. And, some of the early and more successful community builders have cultivated speaking careers from their experiences.

Of course, like other media, podcasting has its place. Radio didn’t replace live theatre. Television didn’t replace radio or motion pictures. Video didn’t replace radio or television. And so it goes. In fact, I know some amateur radio operators and my good friend Bob Goyetche is in the process of getting his HAM radio license.

So, don’t you worry about podcasting as a media. It will always serve a purpose. It’s a media through which creative individuals and large media organizations can create relationships with their listeners and build communities of interest.

Sadly, podcasts were doomed from the start simply because of the unfortunate name by which they’re known… (ugh) podcasts.

As a side note, it was a privilege to be a guest of Ottawa Morning during Kathleen Petty’s last week as a radio host in Ottawa. Kathleen is heading west to Calgary. Best wishes for success and good health. Ottawa, particularly the political community, will miss you.