The condemned live longer – this phrase could describe the actual development of podcasts best. Invented in 2000 by Tristan Louis they are experiencing a rebirth at the moment.
The first popularity came up in 2005 when Apple introduced the iPod. TV shows, radio stations and also newspapers started podcasts for their shows or columns. But the podcast has never been really famous. There were a few users but no great audience. ”Stand-alone podcasts” produced by individuals have never been really successful.
On a plane from London to North Carolina. I think everyone on board has just downloaded the final episode of @serial.
— Shane Richmond (@shanerichmond) December 18, 2014
In 2014 the investigative journalist Sarah Koenig started her podcast-project “Serial”. In this podcast she started to investigate the criminal case of the murdered student Hae Min Lee. She included original interrogation recordings, interviews and other material. In fall 2015 she started the second season and in spring 2016 the third season of serial is expected. “Serial” was the number one podcast on iTunes.
Podcasts were never really a trend, never experienced a hype. So it’s even more interesting that Serial made it to become popular and had a community following of more than a million. The captivating thing about Serial was that it really happened. And it was enriched with notices and photos online.
Now another podcast is entering the market: Limetown. The story seems fascinating: The American village Limetown had several hundred of inhabitants. But from one day to the other they all disappeared. The journalist Lia Haddock starts investigating on the story. When you listen to the episodes it seems like a real story. But after a couple of episodes the producers revealed that it is only fictional.
So do podcasts really experience a comeback? Kind of. There is still the barrier, because not everybody knows how to subscribe for a podcast (and not everybody knows that they are free). But Serial and Limetown show that there is still potential for podcasts that are produced at a high quality. So the role of the podcast has changed: During the first ten years the role developed to an on-demand solution for tv and radio stations. But now companies, producers and also private discovered podcasts a possibility for an engaged audience.