Someday, my son is going to ask me about life before podcasting. And that is going to be an entertaining, difficult conversation for me.
Entertaining because it’s going to be unfathomable to him. The same way I can’t wrap my head around “party phone lines,” he will struggle with the concept of a time when the only way to get information and entertainment was to catch coded signals on an antenna and decode them in real time. Equally perplexing will be that we once had to consume media on someone else’s schedule, and that if we missed the beginning of a program, we just picked up in the middle and tried to muddle through.
But it’ll be difficult because there’s something romantic about the old way. It was a worthy field in which to work, and many of us did for a number of years. I cherish the memories from my time as a radio show host, reporter, anchor and DJ throughout the years. Due to radio station owners’ self-inflicted wounds and the growing pressures that all ad-revenue-driven media face, the radio business is no longer such a great place to work, and that saddens me too.
Regardless, I’m excited for my boy. I’m excited that, because of the power of podcasting, he’ll have access to more and better audio content than I ever could have hoped for as a kid. He’ll be able to learn about and explore topics that were far too “niche” to ever be considered for a mainstream radio show, and he’ll be able to curate his listening experience to cater to his exact interests and tastes.
My love affair with the medium of audio has been lifelong. It's immediate. It's intimate. It's with you wherever you need it. It builds communities who may never see each other in person, but who identify as a community all the same.
I still carry vivid memories from my childhood of driving late at night with my Dad, spinning the dial on the AM radio to see what signals we could pick up. Driving home from football games at Lambeau Field, we would revel in the signal bounces from thousands of miles away, and hang on every word of great radio storytellers like Art Bell and Michael Feldman.
Founding Podcamp is my way to build on that legacy for the next generation. Strong, original storytelling, connecting with and understanding an audience, speaking their language and presenting programming that is professional and polished—these traditions of the “old ways” have a place in the future of on-demand audio programming.
My kid might not ever understand the joys of tuning an AM radio at night, but he’ll be able to appreciate the power of audio just the same.
Happy Fathers’ Day, all.