What future do podcasts have? And how can I use a podcast as a journalist?

The initial podcast idea a few years ago was to provide news anywhere, anytime. That idea did not last long.

Starting a podcast requires minimal equipment but offers great opportunities to reach new listeners.
Starting a podcast requires minimal equipment but offers great opportunities to reach new listeners.

One reason was that the messages read were even more boring than regular television news. The other reason was that upcoming short videos can be better consumed if you want to see the pictures about what has happened.

Podcasts had to develop to survive.

Since the Apple podcast app has grabbed the iPhone, radio shows on-demand are suddenly vogue. Even the Reporter Forum of Der Spiegel put the issue on the agenda.

Sara Weber, now an expert, named the following four benefits of a podcast:

  • No time limit.

  • No programme schedule.

  • Niche, niche, niche.

  • Hardly any entry barriers.

In fact, the reasons for podcasts being relevant are valid and proven by Philipp Westermeyer, who regularly served heavy subjects on his Online Marketing Rockstars in a podcast, which are easily digestible in this format.

With verve, he recalls the great podcast stars in the United States and the delight with a mixture of information, discussion, news, and entertainment an audience of millions are served.

The OMR programme achieves at least a few thousand listeners. Podcasts are easier to handle than, for example, Snapchat. Still, a lot of development has to be done.

But, journalists and podcasts: Is it worth at all? Patrick Aust, who specialises in Hamburg in the production of podcasts, sees the secret of success as a triad: one-third expertise, one-third emotion, one-third entertainment. With this mix, once started, you don’t want to stop listening.

Thoughts can be terminated, arguments exchanged, and contradictions resolved. A new market is open for this kind of storytelling.

We tested this with a sports talk during the European football championship and discussed the national team and other sports news. The advantages were obvious after four weeks: As a journalist, I can say what I have to say, present it in a new format, and attract new people.

Only by listening to a journalist does the listener get closer: You learn his thoughts; he’s authentic in original sound. You cannot get closer.

What is missing? Opportunities for making money. Products have to be presented in the show, either with an acoustic advertisement as we know it from the radio or presented by the journalist. Both are inherently difficult for journalists.

That leaves only the next advantage: To use the podcast for your own branding.

Good talkers come across authentically. The American Bill Simmons was on this path to as coveted sports journalist because the way he interviewed athletes before the microphone became a separate genre.

What you need is just this:

  • A headset with microphone, needed when two people are talking to each other.

  • Microphone amplifier for better sound quality.

  • MP3 software for audio processing.

Owning a computer is assumed. To make the audio file online, an account on Soundcloud is enough; access is free. The stream can then be imported and published, for example, in iTunes podcast. All in all, that shouldn’t cost more than US$110 to start.

The most important rule is just to try it. You’ll be surprised.