Poetics of Podcasting

What is the nature of PODCASTING?

I am drafting a college course for upperclassmen on the practice and style of podcasting. My research for the course did not turn up any definitions of this form of creative mass media communication.  Looked at superficially, a podcast is no more than a recorded audio program available on the Internet.  Looked at that way “podcasting” includes everything on the medium called radio–reporting, entertainment, musical concert, interview–as well as any other audio that is available via our computers and smart devices.  So then, what is a course called Podcasting 334?  Just another way of giving students an opportunity to practice their audio editing skills.  On first pass–this seems to be the case.  But this term and its practice does seem unique–of our time permeated by social media and political entertainment–and reflective of who we are and possibly could be within an evolving democracy. This piece is an exploration of that potential >>> democracy as a representation of its citizens–in this form >>>PODCASTING.

NOTE: This thinking is inspired by my reading of Renata jackson’s “The Modernist Poetics of Maya Deren {2001].”  Deren was an avant garde film maker–“Meshes of the Afternoon” 1943–and a film theorist. She viewed art as medium specific.  That is–each art–painting, music, theatre, poetry, film, writing–had a formative core that determined what it was and what messages, images were most appropriate for that art; and further, that the best work within each art field engaged those core elements.  This is an attitude taken by Lessing in his Laocoon  on the differences between poetry and painting.  But others dealt with this point of view.  It seems a bit limiting and does not work for me but it is a place to start in thinking about the “Art of Podcasting.”

Podcasting–a practice within a larger art form–or–its own thing.

Is podcasting more than an artful radio or audio recording? Certainly, any podcast could be broadcast over radio and any radio program could be called a “podcast,” but do all radio programs fulfill the evolving feeling of “podcast”?  And do all podcasts fulfill the evolved feeling of “radio”?

Podcasting and radio involve the following as practiced today:

  • Scheduled live and recorded broadcasting
  • Cloud storage and accessibility — available to all–listener and creators–in easy-to-learn formats — at anytime via computer devices in our pockets.
  • Modern audio software — available to any wannabe producer in easy-to-learn formats
  • Social media platforms for disseminating content to wide swaths of listeners

So what does Podcasting have that Radio does not or the other way around?  I know when I think Podcasting I know it is not radio. Radio is old and not that convenient because it is scheduled and at the same time it is convenient because it is always there and I do not have to think about what I want to hear — I just turn it on.  And it is friendly and recognizable and warming–Leonard Lopate’s voice at that hour–structuring my day.   The ideas may not be precisely what I want to hear right then, but it is all very informative and these are the things I should know.

and not really convenient and yet I listen to it.  It keeps me company in the morning.   — but when you look closely

What do we mean when we say “Podcasting”?  Point to the “evolving feeling of the podcast.”

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