Podcast fandoms are a growing demographic in the fandom ranks. Hearkening back to the golden era of radio, podcasts have gained traction in today’s media with their broad range and engaging content.
What Is A Podcast?
By the mid 1930s, Radio dramas were the premier form of entertainment. Audiences around the world gathered around radios to listen to their favorite shows. Then came television and films adding visual aspects for fans. But now, podcasts are using their auditory appeal to snag radio lovers as well as becoming a millennial stereotype.
Podcasts are audio productions that span many topics. Some are shorter than a minute while others go on for over an hour. They can be as simple as one person telling stories to help you fall asleep to full-on audio productions. Most podcasts use RSS feeds to distribute their content to apps like iTunes or Tunein. From there, listeners can download and subscribe to listen. Unlike radio, podcasters usually upload the entire backlog of episodes. This way, listeners have unlimited access to hours of content. The ease of use and the sheer number of podcasts out there in some of the ways podcasts grew in popularity.
How Podcasts Rose
Podcasts are the go-to entertainment for when your other senses are occupied. Listening to the radio while on car trips is fun. But podcasts allow you to branch out. You can learn a new language, discover in-depth investigations or listen to three brothers play Dungeons and Dragons. A podcast doesn’t have to envelop your attention like other forms of entertainment. It just invites you to get your mind off of whatever monotonous task you are performing.
Nearly every device can download podcasts. This cost-free access to decades of entertainment makes the medium even more appealing. And though some podcasts are recorded with world-class audio equipment, starting a podcast is at a relatively low cost. Compared to producing a film or writing a book, anyone with a good idea and a microphone can start recording. This makes it easy for innovative storytellers to gain followers and monetary support.
Though most podcasts are free to consumers, creators are finding ways to make podcasting a sustainable career. Sponsors and advertisers are the main way podcasters create revenue, as well as sites like Patreon and GoFundMe. Additionally, networks are emerging that promote and compile similar podcasts. This helps podcasters focus on creating by taking care of promotion and compilation. The essential premise of many podcasts is that people have dynamic conversations together. This appeals to consumers in a different way than other media.
The longer one listens, the closer they feel to the creators. It starts to feel like you are a part of a conversation with people that you want to be with. This relationship brings listeners back time after time not just to be entertained but to spend time with good friends.
Since podcasts are an auditory medium, fans have nothing to limit their visual imaginations. This helps podcast characters and ideas relate to more listeners. Many podcasts have cult followings that take note of every defining aspect and quirk they can find.
Without a concrete visual canon, characters and storylines become the consumer’s playground. Fans at conventions and festivals can interpret their favorite characters the way they relate best. Fans create artwork and crafts to give visual substance to their favorite podcasts. These are posted to social media groups that reach even more interested parties, just like other fandoms across media formats. Podcasts have the ability to interact with their fans on a personal level. Some podcasts use fan questions as content for their shows.
Others use the names of those who tweet about their shows as characters. Shows can even release separate “minisodes” to cover listener anecdotes and fan mail. Some podcasts have branched out through other forms of media. Creating live shows, comics, and even spin-off series help further connect with fans. The more listeners get behind podcasts, the more their creators can give them.
Additionally, fans can dabble in the production themselves. There are several “fancasts” and even entire podcast networks based on fans conversing about the shows and movies they love. Celebrities from other venues are getting in on the action as well. Dax Shepherd with Armchair Expertand Anna Faris on Anna Faris is Unqualifiedare just a couple. Podcasts bring fans and stars to a place where they can relate on the same level.
What Podcasts Are Right for You?
Podcasts range from funny to investigative to genres all their own. Finding ones that appeal to you may seem like a daunting task with so many to choose from. Searching the iTunes podcast charts is a great way to find shows that have a large listener base. This is a great place to start but delving into specific categories can hone your search even further.
Are you a fan of old-timey radio? Try the Thrilling Adventure Hour, a podcast created by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker. It brings delightful radio styled segments to life on stage and recorded for podcast. A true crime fan? My Favorite Murder is a true crime comedy podcast by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. It features two friends’ perspective on the morbid and morose that we’re all at least a little interested in. Or maybe you just want some advice for the modern era. My Brother, My Brother and Mehas you covered with hilarious advice on listener conundrums.
There are even podcast recommendation podcasts to help you further. Wherever you look, podcast fans are eager to welcome you to their ranks. With Podcon and Podfests emerging as well, podcasts are poised to remain a fixture in the media of the future.
Podcasts are a great way to learn, engage and be entertained. So the next time your commute has you bored, why not download a few episodes and have a listen? Interacting with your favorite podcast fandoms can also bring you new friends, ideas and inspiration.
Who knows, maybe you and a friend will start the next hit podcast!