Our essay historicises the term “podcast” and offers some new contexts for understanding the history of the term, the practices it designates and its relation to broadcasting.  The paper proceeds in four sections. We first analyse the origins and emergence of the word podcasting among the press and the digerati. We dispute the standard argument that podcasting’s main innovation is a marriage of RSS and Apple’s iPod by presenting podcasting as a practice that arose from a network of actors, technologies and behaviours. In the second section, we discuss how podcasting works and why we need to look beyond distribution to understand its historical emergence. In the third section of the essay, we connect podcasting with the development of affordable and easytouse consumer audio production software and hardware, technologies that are necessary (though not sufficient) preconditions for podcasting to offer greater access for audiences and producers than traditional models of broadcasting. We conclude by examining the implicit contrast between “podcasting” and “broadcasting” in order to trouble the commonsensical definition of broadcasting and thereby reopen some basic questions about who is entitled to communicate and by which techniques. While podcasting is neither a complete break from broadcasting nor part of any kind of revolution, it is the realisation of an alternate cultural model of broadcasting. The practice of podcasting thus offers us an opportunity to rethink the connections between broadcasting and other kinds of media practices and to reexamine the political and cultural questions broadcasting presents.
Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities and Creativity
Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication
© Jonathan Sterne, Jeremy Morris, Michael Brendan Baker, Ariana Moscote Freire
Original Publication Citation
Sterne, J., Morris, J., Baker, M. B., & Freire Moscote, A. (2008). The politics of podcasting. Fibreculture, (13). Retrieved from http://thirteen.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-087-the-politics-of-podcasting/
Baker, Michael Brendan; Sterne, Jonathan; Morris, Jeremy; and Freire, Ariana Moscote, "The Politics of Podcasting" (2008). Faculty Publications and Scholarship. 1.