Below is a list of some recent publications in podcast studies. We’ll try to keep this page updated as much as we can. Do let us in the comments if you’ve found or published something.
A Cinema for the Ears: Imagining the Audio-Cinematic through Podcasting
Film Philosophy 24(3)
Dario Llinares, University of Brighton
Podcasts have been described as “a cinema for the ears” and this application of a visual rhetoric to describe an audio-only experience results in an attempt to define what is still a relatively new medium. I argue that it is possible to consider something cinematic without the presence of moving images. Assertions in favour of the cinematic nature of podcasts often employ the visual imagination of listeners evoked by heightened audio characteristics that a particular podcast may possess. By focusing on film-centred podcasts specifically, which, in terms of content and form, are implicitly and often explicitly concerned with properties of the cinematic, I argue for a more conceptual analysis of the idea of a visual form of audio. While many film-oriented podcasts provide a supplementary celebration of cinema culture rather than manifesting a unique cinematic experience of their own, there are examples of film-centred podcasts that attempt to actualise what I will call an “audio-cinematic” experience, deploying the creative potential of the podcast to manifest an experiential aura that evokes a cinematic imagination. I analyse the sonic dimensions of audio-cinematic podcasts including my work with Neil Fox on The Cinematologists Podcast.
Keywords: Podcasts; Imagination; Audio-cinematic; Sound; Speech; Phenomenology.
Critique of podcasting as an anthropological method
Ian M Cook , Central European University
Digital audio technologies have expanded the methodological possibilities for anthropological research. This article explores some of the implications of using podcasting as an anthropological method, specifically an experiment in which interlocutor interviews were regularly published as part of an exploration into digital politics in India. The article uses the reflexive insights garnered from making the series to interrogate the possibilities of interlocutor interview podcasting for anthropology. Further to this, it exploits the interlocutors’ expertise on digital practices to reverse the analytical gaze, asking what their experiences of the digitalising Indian public sphere can teach us about changing academic/anthropological practices, especially regarding the enabling (or not) of new ways of speaking, vocal performances, the possibility for immediate publishing, and celebrations of newness. Building from these critical appraisals, it is suggested that the latent promise of interlocutor interview podcasting lies in the potential to create ‘aural intimacy’ and a ‘circulating copresence’.
A Curriculum for Blackness: Podcasts as Discursive Cultural Guides, 2010-2020
Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 27:2,
Kim Fox, David O. Dowling & Kyle Miller
African-American podcasting’s ascent marks a potent articulation of Black identity and experience in media history, one reaching an unprecedented range of audiences, dialogs, and online communities. This study examines how content, production practices, and digital audiences for Black podcasting generate a metaphorical curriculum for blackness, a set of discursive cultural guides for listeners. Case studies representative of major genres and publishing sectors where Black podcasting flourished from 2010 to 2020 include humorous commentary on popular entertainment in The Read (2013-), independent media’s exploration of Black life in The Nod (2014–2020), and legacy media’s in-depth cultural criticism and analysis in Still Processing (2016-).
The City Under COVID‐19: Podcasting As Digital Methodology
Journal of Economic and Social Geography, 11 (3): Special Issue
Dallas Rogers Miles Herbert Carolyn Whitzman Eugene McCann Paul J. Maginn Beth Watts Ashraful Alam Madeleine Pill Roger Keil Tanja Dreher Matt Novacevski Jason Byrne Natalie Osborne Mirjam Büdenbender Tooran Alizadeh Kate Murray Kelly Dombroski Deepti Prasad Creighton Connolly Amanda Kass Emma Dale Cameron Murray Susan Caldis
This critical commentary reflects on a rapidly mobilised international podcast project, in which 25 urban scholars from around the world provided audio recordings about their cities during COVID‐19. New digital tools are increasing the speeds, formats and breadth of the research and communication mediums available to researchers. Voice recorders on mobile phones and digital audio editing on laptops allows researchers to collaborate in new ways, and this podcast project pushed at the boundaries of what a research method and community might be. Many of those who provided short audio ‘reports from the field’ recorded on their mobile phones were struggling to make sense of their experience in their city during COVID‐19. The substantive sections of this commentary discuss the digital methodology opportunities that podcasting affords geographical scholarship. In this case the methodology includes the curated production of the podcast and critical reflection on the podcast process through collaborative writing. Then putting this methodology into action some limited reflections on cities under COVID‐19 lockdown and social distancing initiatives around the world are provided to demonstrate the utility and limitations of this method.
Radio, music, podcasts ‐ BBC Sounds: Public service radio and podcasts in a platform world
Radio Journal:International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, Volume 18, Number 1
Richard Berry, University of Sunderland
In 2018, the BBC announced plans to replace their long-established ‘iPlayer Radio’ service with a new platform called BBC Sounds. The new service was promoted as a single space where listeners can consume BBC radio, music and podcasts, creating a single point of interaction between audiences and content. This is, however, far more than an exercise in reframing public service radio content in a new app; it is also a practical application of these policies through the commissioning of content made for online, specifically, younger, audiences. This shift happens not only at a time where traditional broadcasters are exploring ways to re-engage younger listeners but as commentators search for the ‘Netflix of Podcasts’ This article explores the manner in which the BBC Sounds project is a response to current trends in the radio industry and to which it recognizes podcasting as an audio medium that is distinct from but institutionally connected to radio.
The following articles appear in Issue 77 of Gender Forum:
New Waves – Feminism, Gender and Podcast Studies
Abstract: Can pornography ever be an ethical expression of sexuality? Laura and Rachel, hosts of the podcast Girls on Porn (2019-), participate in this ongoing discourse by reviewing professional and amateur pornographic videos on their podcast. Their aim is to help their listenership find ethical pornography and, in the course of reviewing a selection of pornographic content each episode, to explicitly subvert expectations about mainstream pornography by primarily focussing on the performance of women’s sexual pleasure. The podcast makes use of the popular format of the “chumcast” shows—podcasts that thrive on the casual conversation and easy banter of their hosts (cf. McHugh). The popularity of this format may be explained by the unique affordances of the podcast medium, heightening feelings of intimacy, authenticity and embodiment (Llinares, Berry and Meserko). This article explores how the podcast medium’s aural form impacts the hosts’ assertion of their sexual agency in their commentary of the pornographic videos they watch as well as in the negotiation of their personal erotic experiences. The affordances of the podcast allow the hosts and their diverse guests to affirm their sexual agency and express their erotic fantasies in a safe space by providing an intimate atmosphere that prompts a paradoxical sense of anonymity as well as a parasocial connection to their listenership. Importantly, it also enables the hosts to mediate the pornography they watch through an aural-only medium which allows a distance to the visuality of pornographic videos which overwhelmingly relies on the objectification of female bodies.
Abstract: As intimacy emerges as a key concept in podcast research, it becomes increasingly urgent to consider the multifaceted ways in which it interacts with the medium. This article advances research on podcasting intimacy by understanding intimacy as undergoing a continual process of culturally contingent negotiation and examining how podcasting participates in that negotiation. Instead of treating intimacy as an inherent part of podcasting, it demonstrates how podcasts can create intimacy and use it to form connections among members of a fan public. To do so, this article uses the first season of Within the Wires (2016) to show how narrative repetition constructs fan-based intimate publics. Within the Wires is an alternate reality fiction podcast whose first season takes the form of relaxation tapes. Throughout the podcast, the narrator repeats specific lines, phrases, and memories that the listener comes to recognize. By retooling Roland Barthes and Marianne Hirsch’s work on recognition and community building in photography for use in sound research, this article develops a theoretical framework for understanding the temporalities of recognition in podcasting. Using this framework, the article posits that Within the Wires uses non-narrative repetition alongside its aural aesthetics to create an intimate public through recognition. The podcast extends that recognition into its monetizing paratexts, making it possible for listeners to recognize themselves and others as fans. The first section of this paper defines recognition and its relationship to time, the second considers how recognition works within the show’s fandom, the third looks at recognition within Within the Wires’ monetizing paratexts, and the final tracks how the podcast finds horror in the breakdown of this system. The article argues that Within the Wires presents intimacy and creates fan-based intimate publics through the experience of recognition.
Chase Gregory: Crossing Both Ways: Sarah Jones, The Moth Radio Hour, and the Disruptive Potential of Voice
Abstract: This paper examines an episode of popular storytelling podcast The Month, titled “A Walk on the West Side” (2014), in order to explicate and uncover how gender, race, and class might attach to certain voices. In this episode, Jones (a stage performer, writer, and gifted impressionist) first relates her memories of being typecast as black female stereotypes; she then tells the story of being pulled over by LAPD a few days later, under suspicion of sex work. Ultimately, Jones baffles the cops who detain her by affecting a flawless British accent, disrupting their assumptions. Her story—told on the podcast in a myriad of different voices—literally speaks class, race, and gender into being, only to challenge the fixity of these signs, showcasing the simultaneously disruptive and productive potential of speech.
Abstract: From a feminist media studies and cultural studies perspective, the contribution explores the fascinating, yet overlooked podcast series Alice Isn’t Dead (2016-8). The podcast thematically centers around the complex relationship of culture and distance and develops different understandings of culture, as well as the experience of distance in a geographical, socio-economic (class mobility), or interpersonal-romantic sense. Tracing these conceptions and their attempts to define a collective US-American identity differently, the contribution focuses on the podcast’s narration in the form of radio monologues by its protagonist, the exceptional trucker character Keisha, its take on the road trip and (female) mobility, as well as its representation of a queer love story. With an eye for the intersectional effects of gender, race, and sexual orientation, these readings mobilize a variety of cultural artifacts to explore the particular affordances of serialized fictional podcast storytelling. Of particular interest to the contribution are the intertextual echoes of tropes and themes of the road trip narrative and the road movie, as well as the podcast’s ending as a turn toward homonormativity that is inconsistent with the queer temporalities and the capitalist critique developed by the podcast during its three seasons.
Abstract: In contemporary mainstream media there is a tendency to represent LGBTQ+ characters stereotypically, or even kill them off. This trope is called ‘bury your gays’ and it has done much to discredit and delegitimise representation. Even though the percentage of queer representation in mainstream media has improved, a viewer could be forgiven for thinking that, overall, popular culture does not think highly of the LGBTQ+ community for continuing to perpetuate these narrative arcs. The McElroy family’s popular actual-play podcast The Adventure Zone (TAZ) initially portrayed queer characters in the ‘bury your gays’ trope by killing off a canon lesbian couple in their first season. As four self-proclaimed ‘straight, cis, white dudes’, the family initially performed their characters by reflecting what they had seen in mainstream fiction. After engaging with their audience and learning why this was upsetting, they changed the story to reverse the trope; unburying their gays by bringing the characters back to life. Since then, they have consistently introduced more queer characters and, in their latest season, have also introduced nonbinary characters. By tracking the introduction and development of queer representation in TAZ podcast episodes – both the game episodes and the meta-episodes bookending each season – the McElroys’ education and integration of this new information into narratives is demonstrable. The representation of queer characters in TAZ shows that podcasts are not just a platform for LGBTQ+ creators to educate their audience; they can also act as a participatory storytelling medium in which creators can be educated in gender and sexuality by their audience.
Deniz Zorlu and Nazlı Özkan: Women on Twitch Turkey: Affective Communities and Female Solidarity Under Patriarchy and Postfeminism
Abstract: This article examines the experiences of female streamers and podcasters on Twitch Turkey primarily through in-depth interviews conducted with 35 respondents. Despite the platform’s growth as one of the most widely visited social media sites and the biggest online game streaming platform, there is limited research as to how gender identities and geographical location shape streamers’ experiences and usage of the platform. We argue that female streamer’s use of Twitch Turkey is marked by combined patriarchal pressures and neoliberal, postfeminist thrust for aggressive competitiveness. Sexual harassment is the major problem for women, and pervasive patriarchal relations of domination affect all female streamers’ usage of the platform, who often find themselves scrutinized and criticized for their body images, clothing, and gaming performances. In exerting control over their behavior, patriarchy, however, affects women in different ways based on their cultural preferences and personal habits. We also argue that Twitch Turkey tends to push women to adopt postfeminist subjectivities to rigorously compete with each other for limited viewership, sponsorship, and income opportunities. However, these pressures and constraints are resisted and re-negotiated especially through the formation of female solidarities and affective communities in online streaming.