Podcasting Is the Ultimate Radio Trend

Evan Ramirez, El Vaquero Staff Writer

With talk radio stations like KLSX 97.1 being ripped off the air, or completely changing their format to something like top 40, the outlet for stellar programming on the radio is becoming less available. However, as an alternative, within the past couple of years the abundance of excellent podcasts has become almost overwhelming. With podcasts, people who aren’t interested in talk radio are given an alternative to present themselves with a wide variety of genres.

The previously mentioned KSLX, which has since been changed to AMP Radio, included beloved shows that were on five days a week. In the morning listeners could wake up and listen to the inane and entertaining rants of Adam Carolla, then around noon Frosty, Heidi and Frank kept the laughs coming. And arguably the funniest of them all, Conway and Whitman closed out the day.

In February 2009, a few days after the station switched formats, Carolla launched his daily podcast which is still often seen at the top of the iTunes charts. Sports talk radio still has some fine programming, but to find any good entertainment/pop culture or alternative talk shows the best option is to find a podcast.

Podcasts are readily available in various places. There is the iTunes store where listeners can subscribe to a podcast and have the new one downloaded every time it becomes available, rather than having to search for it again. Many podcasts also have websites that allow people to listen to it in their web browsers, rather than having to download it then. With the right equipment anyone can make a podcast.

When talking about podcasts there’s no way to ignore Kevin Smith. The director of films like “Clerks” (1994) and “Chasing Amy” (1997) has created an empire of podcasts under the banner SModcast. Many of his shows are performed live and he has expanded his network to include a live show, which runs from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays.

If a person is looking for something on the nerdy side, Chris Hardwick hosts the “Nerdist” podcast. Hardwick and his co-hosts Matt Mira and Jonah Ray provide listeners with a new podcast every couple of days. Guests include a wide variety of entertainers, from the 10th Doctor himself, David Tennant (“Doctor Who”) to the band Wilco.

Not only does Hardwick host his own show, but he often takes it out on the road when he performs stand-up. Much like Smith, he has recently created Nerdist Industries, which has multiple podcasts, including the hilarious “Pop My Culture Podcast” with Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland.

There are many positives to come out of podcasts, but some that people will notice from the start is the ability to pick up a show whenever you want to. A person can pause or play at will. While some have commercials, the flow that a show can have without them is very noticeable and a breath of fresh air.

Arguably the best things about some podcasts is that they are uncensored. There’s no watering down of material, and oftentimes interviews end up being more candid.

Speaking of interviews, many tend to range from 40 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the podcast. This allows for many subjects to be touched upon and if a person is listening to someone that he or she is really interested in, it makes him or her more invested in the product than they were before.

Not only is there new and original content being released through podcasting, but radio stations like AM 570 Fox Sports LA offer their shows on their website the day after they air. While this might not necessarily be considered podcasting in its purest form, it offers audiences another way to listen.

Some television stations take advantage of this as well. G4 offers parts of their television programming and web only series, like “Feedback,” in podcast form.

A person’s entire interest in a podcast can be determined by the host itself. Someone like Marc Marcon of the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” might rub people the wrong way, but others can easily identify with him.

Other hosts like Stratton and Ragland are incredibly welcoming and their rapport with each other allows the audience to just settle in and enjoy themselves.

Many podcasters ask their listeners for donations to keep offering their programs for free. Shows like “WTF” usually present ads at the start of every program. Some might even become running bits, as Maron usually starts the show with a sip of coffee from Just Coffee Coop, and then proceeds to yell, “Pow!”

“WTF” also presents listeners with the opportunity to sign up for a premium membership. Prices vary depending on how long you want to sign up for but this allows listeners to access podcasts that are years old and aren’t available on iTunes anymore.

If a person wants to listen to a podcast in his or her car adapter might need to be bought, but once it’s purchased, getting it to run is rather simple. Some podcasts like “WTF” even have apps that allow the show to be listened to in a much easier manner.

There’s definitely still room for radio out there, and to think that it will be overtaken by podcasts anytime soon is wishful thinking. However, podcasts offer a wide variety of genres to listen to that isn’t even close to being available on the radio. If you find a show and host that you like it can be like the beginning of a new friendship.