Here’s what’s happening: In the online world, the buzz is, “People are reading less, and listening more! They’re listening to audio books instead of reading print books! So… Podcasts! Podcasts are obviously the cool new thing to do! Tell the world! Podcasts!”
As you know, there are more than a few online marketers who love, love, love to be the first to know something, so when a mildly interesting piece of trend-data is announced – such as “Americans are reading less and listening more*” – it will often gain velocity and momentum in a feedback loop that rivals the LHC particle accelerator in Geneva.
Like you, I’m fascinated by the number of people telling me that “reading is dead” – including the reading of website copy – and that every business should begin marketing itself through a weekly podcast.
These are the real facts:
67 percent of America will read a print book this year.
18 percent of America will listen to an audiobook this year.
26 percent will listen to at least one podcast this month, with the overwhelming favorites being the podcasts produced by NPR (National Public Radio.)
In fact, the global number of unique streams and downloads from NPR for September, 2018, was a larger number than the next 3 biggest podcast producers combined (This American Life/Serial, Wondery, iHeartRadio)
My private opinion is that online marketers are excited about podcasts because they think all you have to do is sit down and start babbling. The thing they don’t seem to realize is that podcasts that have an audience are essentially well-produced radio shows available on demand.
Your show had to be good enough to convince a program director at a radio station to give you a time slot back in the days of Paul Harvey and Garrison Keillor, but that barrier is gone now. And with it, quality control.
Interesting, entertaining podcasts will continue to attract the time and attention of an entertainment-hungry public. But a lot of people jumping on the podcast bandwagon right now are about to learn that becoming a successful podcaster is exactly like becoming successful at anything else.
It takes a lot of hard work.
Indy said to tell you Aroo.
Roy H. Williams
* The Department of Labor publishes an annual study called The American Time Use Survey, and one of the things it tracks is time spent reading. What this survey tells us is that on any given day in 2003, 26.3 percent of America spent an average of 1.39 hours reading. But keep in mind that it wasn’t the same 26.3 percent every day. You might also note that 2003 was pre-YouTube and pre-smartphones. According to the latest data from The American Time Use Survey, only 19.5 percent of us will be reading on any given day, but our time spent reading has increased to 1.48 hours.