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 know us in the comments if you’ve found or published something. You can also tweet us @podcaststudies
Special Issue: Participations 18(1)
Alyn Euritt, Anne Korfmacher & Dario Llinares:
Podcast reception is often considered in terms of listening. As individual consumers listen to podcasts, their reception contributes to the formation of and interaction within audiences and publics. This does not mean that podcasts – and their listeners – are entirely separate from other media, but that podcast listening affords distinct experiences within these larger formations. When listening is conceptualized beyond its basic physicality and used as a model for interaction within publics, how people experience and interpret podcast listening becomes significant in understanding the bonds the medium forms. This introduction highlights a few key concepts in studying the intersection of listening and publics and uses those concepts to contextualize the articles in this section.
Clevenger, Samuel M. & Oliver J. C. Rick:
This essay considers podcasting as arts-based media capable of communicating the affective dimensions of active body contexts to listening audiences. We argue that the incorporation of arts-based forms of music and soundscape expands the opportunities for listeners to be moved by the podcast production, increasing the possibility of an affective listening experience and helping the listener experience the sensual dimensions of embodiment through a non-representational mode of communication. To substantiate this argument, we draw from our personal experience developing an arts-based podcast series on research on sport, physical activity, and physical culture. We embraced low fidelity or ‘lo fi’ production methods, using reverberating and noise-based aspects of the recording process to enhance each episode’s affective potential and affectively complement discussions of sport and physical activity. Approaching podcasting as sound art, we interwove interview audio, recorded ambient sound, and lo fi music to produce an affective aural atmosphere as well as communicate critical research on contexts of sport and physical activity. We argue that a lo fi, arts-based approach to podcasting, alternative to the traditional text-based publishing formats of the academy, can help academics and researchers communicate research through a more an affective relationship with listeners.
Historica Canada’s Residential Schools is a history podcast mini-series that ‘aims to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools, and honour the stories of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Survivors, their families, and communities […] funded by the Government of Canada’ (‘Residential Schools Podcast Series’, 2020). Residential Schools is aparticularly useful case study for analyzing history podcasting because the program’s audio is supplemented by written and visual materials on its website that Historica Canada includes to increase the podcast’s educational breadth and connect users to commissioned reports. This podcast supports Indigenous reconciliation in present-day Canada that evaluates perceptions of living in a post-colonial society. Here scholars can examine how intertextual history podcasts shift the listening experience and provide non-Indigenous listeners with the opportunity for a deeper recognition of marginalization, while also creating a listening public of Indigenous peoples based on belonging, community, and cultural memory for traditionally silenced voices in an educational genre promoting immersive audience participation. In this article, I conduct a textual analysis on Residential Schools’ episodes and website to explore if history podcasts have the ability to facilitate an inclusive community by providing a space for minority listeners to hear themselves represented by people they identify with. I also examine if history podcasts can help all listeners learn about marginalized peoples by using audio alongside archival material that extends participant interaction and research.
This article reads the non-fiction podcast The Bowery Boys: New York City History (2007-) as a significant example of the connection between the serial poetics and the participatory potentials of podcasts. It places the podcast in the context of ‘participatory culture’ (Jenkins) and argues that its serial aesthetics and longevity are crucial to its popular appeal. Thepodcast’s transformation into an increasingly professionalized franchise that uses a variety of digital convergence tools to engage with its loyal, active audience is related to its serial strategies and transmedial proliferation. Through case studies of episodes that highlight and incorporate the podcast’s interaction with its audience, this article outlines different forms and ways of participation in podcasting.
Morais, Ricardo, Fábio Giacomelli, Tâmela Grafolin & Fernando Rocha:
According to a Voxnest report, 2019 was ‘the year of the podcast in Brazil’ (2019, p. 4). The audio solutions provider reveals data on the increasing production and consumption of podcasts in Brazil in 2019 and how it continues to grow in 2020, despite the pandemic (Voxnest, 2020). This is the premise for this article, where we seek to conduct an audience study to understand how and why Brazilians listen to podcasts. By reviewing data obtained in a survey conducted on 566 listeners at the beginning of 2020, we aim on the one hand to uncover the possibility of a connection between radio listeners and podcast consumers and/or the emergence of new listening practices that seek to complement or replace radio consumption (Llinares, Fox & Berry, 2018). On the other hand, we want to assess podcast listening motivations, looking for an approach that not only considers consumption numbers, but that explores the main reasons to choose podcasts, why they are listened to and what topics listeners are looking for. Finally, this article aims at studying the reception and engagement with podcasts in the Brazilian context, which is little approached in this area. The study’s main findings reveal that podcasts complement radio listening, thus highlighting the continuous relation between radio and podcasting. The results also show how podcast listeners search for content they don’t find on the traditional media. We conclude that, although there are many podcasts available in the Brazilian Portuguese language, listeners point to a lack of offer diversification. We can also highlight that social media play an increasingly important role in the discovery of new podcasts by listeners.
Notes from a Cross-Cultural Frontier: Investigating Australian Aboriginal Art through Podcasts
Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 16(4)
Siobhán McHugh, Ian McLean, and Margo Neale
Australian Indigenous art is a highly contested site, partly because of the numerous players in the industry. There is a perception that the Indigenous art industry is mainly run by white outsiders and the artists have little voice. In our cross-disciplinary investigation of these crosscultural relations, our first concern was finding a methodology that allowed the voices of Indigenous artists living in remote Australia to be heard. This paper discusses how and why we used oral history to conduct an art historical investigation of the cross-cultural politics of Indigenous art centres in Australia, with the aim of disseminating it widely as a sound-rich narrative podcast. It examines the relational and performative aspects of the in-depth interview and the heightened effect achieved by converting raw interview to a narrative podcast format, in order to communicate new knowledge in an inclusive, inventive and collaborative way.
KEYWORDS: Australian Aboriginal art; Indigenous Art; oral history; podcasting; interviewing
Note: This article contains illustrative audio clips and is available as open access online.
Infrastructures of discovery: examining podcast ratings and rankings
Jeremy Wade Morris
This article uses the case of podcasting to think through how elements and features like ratings, charts and other discovery mechanisms are at once part of the industrialization process and an arena where competing ideas about the industrialization of an emerging format play out. By looking at the twin problems of discoverability and measurability, I argue that ratings and reviews on platforms like Apple Podcasts are one of several means that podcasters, scammers, marketers, and users employ to engineer the discoverability of audio content. I introduce the concept of ‘infrastructures of discovery’ – the features, mechanisms, interfaces and pathways that serve to prepare, present and make cultural content searchable and legible – in the hope of exploring how rankings, ratings and other such mechanisms promote a particular view of industrialization and that emphasizes discoverability at the expense of other modes of cultural production. Given the prominent role platforms like Apple and Spotify now play as discovery hubs, the case of podcasting highlights how platformization is increasingly becoming the default method of distribution and how the need to be discoverable on these platforms raises technical and cultural challenges that ultimately affect podcasters and the content they create.
The tension between podcasters and platforms: independent podcasters’ experiences of the paid subscription model
Creative Industries Journal
Freja Sørine Adler Berg
In 2019, Podimo, a major paid subscription podcast platform, was launched in Denmark. This sparked a recurring debate among independent podcasters in small language areas with a correspondingly small podcast market: How can podcasters working independently of public service institutions and commercial companies find viable funding models? Taking its departure from the research field of creative labour in the cultural industries and research on the platformization of podcasts , this article explores the inherent tensions between creativity and commerce that independent podcasters experience specifically in relation to paid subscription platforms. This is done by conducting and analysing qualitative interviews with four Danish independent podcasters (The Bad Judges, The Tear Channel, Childless Birds, and Third Ear) who have decided to become exclusive content on Podimo, thereby intensifying the shift from being free labour to paid labour. Interviews are combined with transcriptions of podcast episodes in which podcasters seek to justify why they joined Podimo. The analysis reveals commerce, autonomy and discovery as the podcasters’ key motivations, while their overriding concern is the drop of listeners’ numbers
Keywords: podcasting, podcasters, platform, paid-subscription, creative labour, cultural industries
Memoir for Your Ears: The Podcast Life
Mediating Memory: tracing the limits of memoir, B. Avieson, F. Giles, & S. Joseph (eds), Routledge: Oxford
The podcast genre is characterized by a strong host-listener connection and a narrowcast delivery style that engenders an unusual level of empathy. Podcasting harnesses the intimacy and authenticity that can be conveyed by the human voice. But sound itself also tells a story and podcasting trades on radio’s long-established ability to trigger listeners’ imaginations and have them co-create their own mental pictures – a quality shared by the best literary journalism. Writing effectively for audio, though, requires an understanding of the grammar of the audio medium and the principles of crafting and choreographing sound: characteristics analysed here. This article surveys the evolution of the audio memoir form, from early audio diary and edited interview accounts to polished long-form storytelling such as the S-Town podcast (2017). It provides a case study of two audio memoirs, “Love Hurts”, by Lea Thau, of Strangers podcast; and “When I Grow Up,” by David Holstone, part of an episode of the This American Life podcast and radio show. It concludes that podcasting provides an excellent vehicle for the audio memoir, where the affective power of sound can add visceral force to the spoken word. If voice is the most compelling aspect of memoir, the podcast memoir lets us hear that voice with naked clarity, narrating its life story straight into our ears.
Podcasting as a Creative Practice and the Spirit of Radio: Local Histories of Maitland
The Journal of Radio and Audio Media (latest articles)
Susan Kerrigan, Harry Criticos, Vicki Kerrigan & Simon Ritchie
Addressing the question “how is a podcast created?” – four podcasters document their practice as research, framing their experiences as a research enquiry while making their first podcast. Practitioner Based Enquiry was the methodology and reflective practice was one of the methods underpinning the stages of podcasting production. These accounts of practice, and the reflective deliberations, are critically examined using Gidden’s Structuration and Bourdieu’s Cultural Production theories to reveal how these actions are creatively and collaboratively enabled and constrained by past actions and the podcasting production context. Constrabling describes moments of simultaneous opportunity and restriction that occur as radio traditions meet innovative podcasting practices.
KEYWORDS: podcast, audio storytelling, audio memoir, affect, literary journalism
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, 18(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.