Daily Illuminator

December 1, 2018: Podcasts Are Here To Stay

Podcasting has been a "thing" for over a decade now, but for much of that time podcasts were primarily the domain of the geeky and the uberfan. The idea of periodic, often subscription-based content shouldn't have surprised people who grew up with magazines and episodic TV, but even now I talk to people who don't even know what podcasts are, much less how they have become mainstream in many corners. (We at SJ Games even had one for a little while, the FnordCast, and I still hope we're able to relaunch it one of these days.)

A few podcasts have become legitimately famous. The ur-example is Serial, whose first season was a sensation almost as soon as it launched, spawning websites, discussion threads, sequel and companion podcasts, and even mainstream press coverage, bringing to light a case of a potentially innocent man behind bars for almost 20 years. Serial also inspired countless other shows, both original content and stories that started in traditional media and expanded or followed up with more and newer information, such as Dirty John, which is now making the jump to TV on the Bravo network.

Podcasts seem to be the 21st century's venue for advice letters, either spun off from existing columns such as Savage Love (warning: contents NSFW) and sites such as Ask a Manager or original to the podcast medium like My Brother, My Brother, and Me. It's also offering worthy successors to the radio serials of the early 20th century, with ongoing stories such as Limetown, Homecoming, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, and Welcome to Night Vale. All of this barely scratches the surface of what's available; if you're interested in something, there's a very good chance there's a podcast (or a dozen podcasts) talking about it.

But for my money, the surest sign that podcasting has "made it" is that podcast creators and performers are now enjoying the trappings of celebrity, including going on tours and even starting conventions of their own (the first PodCon was earlier this year and it shows signs of becoming at least an annual event). I recently had the delightful pleasure of seeing Helen Zaltzman, creator and voice of The Allusionist, right here in Austin, and she's not the first or tenth podcaster to make a stop here on a tour specifically for their podcasts.

If you're already familiar with podcasts, you doubtless have your own list of favorites – some of my own aren't even mentioned here, but that's because I have several dozen in my podcast queue and listen to podcasts on almost every car trip longer than a couple of minutes. If you aren't familiar with podcasts, there are thousands of them out there . . . why not start exploring and see if there's one you like? And if you have a favorite I didn't mention, let me know in the forums – I'm always interested in trying a new show!

-- Andrew Hackard

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