Allow me, if you will, to rant about the latest developments in podcasting. It seems major media types are jumping into the fray since Apple introduced podcasting into its latest version of iTunes a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I was one of the million or so people who started subscribing to what iTunes had to offer. It was free (good) and gave a forum to the everyman (even better).
But we all knew this was going to happen, didn’t we? “This” is advertising. Now, my daily ESPN radio podcast is sponsored by (Tough Actin’) Tinactin. And the very first episode of the new podcast by Slate, an online magazine I read regularly, was brought to me by Chrysler. I stopped listening immediately. Unsubscribing is my next step.
Between listening to my iPod, reading some fabulous MP3 blogs (look over to the right) and downloading podcasts — oh, and work and stuff — I’ve discovered time is a finite resource. It’s bad enough ESPN’s SportsCenter hammers me over the head with the “Budweiser Hot Seat” and my precious Cubs games include the Pepsi defensive lineups and the Aflac trivia questions. Now, not even my iPod is safe. Worse, my favorite podcasts, from NPR affiliate KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., are going to be underwritten by Toyota for six months in exchange for 10-second spots on each episode.
(On a side note, there now will be ads in the ads I’m trying to fast-forward through on my TiVo. From AP story: “TiVo has announced plans to insert symbols that identify advertisers during commercial breaks, making them more visible even when a customer is fast forwarding through them.” TiVo is desperate for money — it hasn’t turned a profit since ’97 — so it must be OK to sell out the idea of commercial skipping, which made the device so ingenious to begin with.)
I’m not naive. I work for a major newspaper. Advertising dollars probably pay a bulk of my salary (thank you, Christie’s Cabaret and Hi-Liter Gentlemen’s Clubs). I get that. But as the aforementioned story hints, these major media companies are squashing the true spirit of podcasting: the democratization of information. People will subscribe to podcasts by companies they know: ABC, ESPN, Disney (gee, all owned by the same folks). Thus advertisers will flock to said companies and it’ll end up just like commercial radio — exactly what podcasting wasn’t supposed to be.
I suppose Apple’s involvement brought podcasting to the mainstream. But where does that leave the grass-roots programs? How long before they start charging?
Ah, just had to vent. Here’s some music (free of charge, but go buy it if you like it!)
Public Enemy — How to Kill a Radio Consultant
Jets to Brazil — Resistance is Futile