A Rose By Any Other Name

What is a Podcast? I know what it started out as.

It came from the name of Apple’s audio player, iPod. It came into being around 2005, with the advent of iTunes and the iPod. The term was a term that described an audio-only show, recorded and distributed via iTunes. In the years before the iPod and iTunes, there were other services that did the same thing. But it was the mass distribution nature, and the merger of hardware and digital delivery that Apple achieved which made this medium expand.

Now that the iPod is no longer manufactured, and this kind of medium is adding video, do we still call it a Podcast? With so many ways to distribute audio and video programming, is it time for a new name to describe this form of communications.

Content On DemandPerryScopeLogo

The hallmark of Podcasting was the “on demand” and personal nature of the content. Previously, content was delivered via broadcast radio. It was open for anyone, and had to be recorded live in order to be played back later in an on-demand manner. Since it was audio only, the files were small and manageable at a time when computerized products with memory were expensive. It was a new way to get targeted content to a specific audience.

The word itself was derived from the term Broadcast, casting an electronic signal to a broad audience. Casting a program to iPods was an organic term, which described the new medium. Apple did not originate the term, nor did they own the rights. No one actually owns it. It is in the public domain.

What Is A Podcast?

According to Wikipedia, Podcasting has a very specific definition of Podcast as a downloaded, offline episodic series. This past week, I attended NAB 2016 (National Association of Broadcasters). At NAB, the term Podcast was used in any number of ways. Podcast has come to describe a specific kind of content, rather than a method of delivery.

Advancement Of Technology

Over the years, technology advanced quickly. Other devices and delivery methods were developed. One method is YouTube. At about the same time the term Podcasting was coined, YouTube was also invented. When Google bought YouTube in 2006 and turned it into the giant content sharing site it is today, content creators added video and started to use it to share their programs.

Podcast Is Here To Stay

Today, Podcast has become many things to many people. Podcasting is an accepted verb. Podcaster is a noun used to describe someone who Podcasts. The method of delivery, and even the content has become fluid. Podcast and its derivatives are many things to many people. Replacing the term with something associated less with its Apple branded origins, and something generic and more related to today’s applications would be difficult. Podcast has become a cultural term. It will only be replaced when the market determines it needs to be replaced. So for the time being, get used to it. Podcast will be with us a long time.


PerryHeadshot-175Perry Goldstein is a veteran of the electronics industry, with both consumer and Pro A/V electronics experience. He is also a professional speaker, and writer for the electronics industry. He has won numerous awards for product design. Perry is currently the Director of New Digital Technologies for Marshall Electronics and MXL pro audio division, as well as an instructor of digital marketing at the higher education level.