As a podcaster and a fan of great podcasts I have come to accept that podcast are a very popular and important part of modern society. However this acceptance of what I consider to be a regular part of an average day is not a commonly understood thing in my country and some others in the world. Why is this? How is it that an extremely popular thing like listening to podcast has flown over the heads of most here in Trinidad and Tobago? I hope to answer these questions and more with this article. As a podcaster I feel it’s by duty to educate my fellow Trini’s and the rest of the world on this topic and if just one new person discovers the joy of listening to podcasts then I will have achieved my goal.
So I’ll start with our first question; What is a podcast? According to Wikipedia a podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio, digital radio, PDF, or Epub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streaming on-line to a computer or mobile device.
Did you understand that?
Maybe you did, may me you didn’t. What I shall do is try to explain that in my own word, hopefully they are good enough to help you better understand what a podcast is, so here’s what a podcast is to me. A podcast is either an audio or video episodic show recorded and uploaded to a server to be downloaded by listeners at a later date/time. The modern podcast uses RSS feeds to allow listeners to subscribe, and download/stream episode to their device of choice. Podcasts can be compared to radio programs, like early morning programs where there are individuals chatting about topics of interest for the listeners enjoyment. The only big difference between the two is that one is live, Radio and the other is pre-recorded. However even though they are so similar I still find that podcasts are better than Radio in a lot of ways.
You see Radio requires an active connection to the internet or an antenna, but podcast can be downloaded and listen to at a later time. Some of the best podcast apps are able to pre-download episodes so that the listener doesn’t have to actively search and download episodes or risk forgetting to download before they leave a Wi-Fi zone. Podcasts are also better because they allow you to choose how and what you listen to. You can skip episodes you don’t like, pause sections to complete task that require full attention and continue later. Podcasts are also very handy for those that do repetitive work that can be achieved through muscle memory. Personally used to listen to them when doing repetitive work at a marketing job I once held. They are also great for long rides in the car. I’ve listened to episodes with family in the car and it’s a nice way to pass the time as well as encourage constructive conversation.
I think with that explanation you should have a pretty good understanding of what a podcast is, so now I’ll proceed to answer the other questions we asked before.
Why are podcasts that are so popular in some countries not as popular in T&T and some other countries? The reasons I’ve come up with happen to involve a few aspects. For a majority of countries it’s a matter of digital infrastructure, and with that I mean cheap, stable internet. In numerous countries around the world there is no readily available access to affordable/ quality internet at home and on the go. This is a very import factor for why it may not be as popular in certain countries, because if you were paying attention to my previous explanations you would have noticed that they mostly had to do with doing tasks that involved the listener being active or mobile while listening to podcasts. Thus they will need proper internet access during and or before they begin their task. Now here in Trinidad we have access to pretty average to above average internet, both mobile and at home. This allows for the technical aspect of listening to podcast to be possible, and if that was the only factor I’m pretty sure I’d not be doing this article.
If you’re interested in starting to listen to Podcasts here’s a list of the best Podcast applications:
- iTunes (PC, Mac, IOS)
- Sticher (IOS, Android, Web)
- BeyondPod Podcast Manager (android)
- Podcast lounge (WP 8.1)
The other important aspect that keeps podcasts from being popular here and some other places is one that I also mentioned previously in this article, and that is radio. Radio is pretty popular here and anywhere radio is popular it is very unlikely that podcasts will be. This is because they are directly competing in the same market. They are brothers that are unfortunate enough to be rivals by design. Listening to the radio is pretty popular here in Trinidad and I’m sure it is the same way in many countries where podcasts are not as popular.
So why is radio more popular here even though we meet the technical requirements to facilitate for podcasts?
Here in Trinidad music is a big aspect of the culture. The citizens of this Caribbean island are big fans of Partying, or feting as it is called here. An extremely important part of most Trinidadians life styles is partying, and because of that most of the population are extreme fans of the music that is played at these parties. This music is readily available on the local radio stations all day, every day, and so most Trini’s have very low incentive to change their listening habits. Unless the other option offers the same or similar content then I’m afraid that it will not be a regular part of Trini life, at least not yet. As our culture evolves and the younger generation find interest in content other than party music then maybe they shall find things like podcast interesting, in fact I know of a few who are into podcasts. My hope is that more find interest in this form of medium because what it has to offer is quite entertaining, informative, educational and just plain Fun.
If you enjoyed this article might I suggest listening yo a few of the podcast here on our site?
if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts about this topic, then I suggest you listen to the Buttonsmashers podcast.