Podcast numbers overtake
radio stations

20 Mar 2006

There are now more podcasts than there are radio stations worldwide, matching a prediction made on an Irish blog site last year.

In November of last year on his blog Podcasting News Ireland, Brian Greene forecast that, with new podcasts growing by more than 800 per week, they would outnumber radio stations by St Patrick’s Day 2006. He said that although podcasts are strictly speaking shows rather than stations, they are independently distributed and subscribed so the comparison holds true to an extent.

Podcasts cover a range of areas; the most popular is science, followed by religion, audio blogs, technology and talk radio. Other common categories include news, arts, movies and TV, sport, health, travel and food.

Apple’s iTunes website lists in excess of 38,000 podcasts in a variety of categories. Greene pointed out that even though some podcasts fit into more than one category, the figure cited by Apple excludes music podcasts. The figure of 36,000 radio stations derives from Fi Glover’s book on the radio industry I Am an Oil Tanker.

“The deal isn’t that I predicted this or I was right; it’s that there’s now more choice for the consumer,” Greene told siliconrepublic.com. He emphasised that this development doesn’t make podcasting bigger than radio as the latter medium has been around for more than a hundred years whereas the former is barely two years old.

“They’re not equal in size or money or importance but it’s about choice,” Greene added, suggesting that the alternative listening choice now available to the public via podcasting would mean the end for what he calls “wallpaper radio”. Unlike many mainstream radio stations which take their playlists from a narrow selection of music formats, podcasts are designed to appeal to niche audiences.

Greene, whose company Doop.ie consults and makes podcasts for Irish companies such as Irish Emigrant News and the Dublin rock radio station Phantom FM, will be speaking about the subject at an Irish Internet Association seminar, titled Commercial Applications of New Internet Channels on 12 April in Dublin. More details are available at www.iia.ie.

By Gordon Smith