Years ago, actually well over a decade now I remember staying at an elderly relative’s house and finding a series of audio cassette tapes that were from an old radio drama, I’m not exactly sure but after a little research I believe it was The Shadow, which ran from the mid thirties to early fifties. Anyway what I do remember is being completely enamored with with it, spending hours listening to cassette after cassette wearing those awful foam and metal headphones. I think that’s where my love with podcasts, specifically audio fiction, started.
I see audio fiction as the perfect mixture of television and literature, the lack of visuals allows you to picture your ideal scenery and characters like in books, while allowing you to still be passively entertained like with television. And I don’t think I’m the only person that thinks that either, the last few years have seen a surge in audiobook sales and steady growth in regards to regular podcast listeners. According to Edison Research in 2017 an estimated 24% will listen to a podcast on a regular basis (monthly). To put that in perspective, according to a report from Pew Research Center 24% of the population uses twitter. Crazy right? Audiobooks have seen quite the rise in popularity as well, in 2015 according to the Audio Publishers Association there were 35,574 audiobooks released, in comparison less than 6,000 were released in 2011. Considering ten to fifteen years ago podcasts were unheard of and audiobooks were considered either for the blind or elderly, these two forms of entertainment are certainly making some kind of impact in the entertainment industry. While it sadly isn’t fiction, the podcast Serial inspired a few audio dramas (of the spooky variety), such as The Black Tapes and Limetown.
I’m going to theorize a bit here. I believe the reason for uptick in these audio dramas particularly the kind that dive into the mysterious or spooky is the combination of big dreams, low budgets, emerging technologies and social networking. In the past if you had an idea for a movie, book, or TV show you were forced to pitch those ideas to a production company or publisher, probably get rejected, and thats basically game over, unless your sitting on a fortune of course. Nonetheless, without a production company or publisher there’s no getting your story out there, especially to a sizable audience. Enter podcasting, there’s no gatekeeper deciding whether or not story is suitable for the masses, all you need is a makeshift studio, couple microphones and some audio editing software and your more than capable of creating a decent program, add in some committed friends to help spread the show across social media and your solid. End theorizing.
Are there any podcasts shows that I haven’t mentioned in this post or my pervious that you’d think I’d like? Please let me know! Same goes for a well produced audiobook!