It’s been just one year since I launched Wessex Archaeology’s podcast, and although they’re not produced very often (on average they’re bi-monthly), it has just broken through the 20,000 download mark.
The official blurb is on Wessex Archaeology’s news blog.
The latest edition of Archaeocast was recorded on-site at Wessex’s annual practical archaeology course, and features short sound-bites from some of the students on the course who are in the 17-19 age range. What surprised me was that none of them had ever listened to a podcast. Only half seemed aware of what they were, and none realised that you didn’t need an Apple iPod to listen to them.
I admit to being a little disappointed, as it’s all too easy for people like me who have been to podcasting conference, and listen to podcasts regularly to forget that it still really is a niche area. Even though John Humphries uncertainly mentions them on Radio 4 in the mornings, and we see that most of the ‘big players’ such as Virgin Radio and the BBC are doing them, and tens of thousands of people are downloading them (and hopefully listening to them), it’s still not yet mainstream.
But it’s a start, and a good one at that. I do think that the term “podcast” is a limiting one due to the connotations with iPods, but hopefully that stigma will fade as people become familiar with the term.
For something as relatively obscure as archaeology, and commercial field archaeology at that (which often just isn’t sexy at all!), can attract such a big audience over a year is pretty good going. It shows the potential that this medium has for the heritage sector. It reminds us that there will always be people out there across the globe who really want to hear about “grass roots” heritage – how it really is as opposed to the mainstream media-fed TV or radio programmes.
Podcasting’s long tail will always be the most varied and most interesting in my opinion (I don’t want Chris Evans with or without music!), and over time will have the greatest number of listeners. So if you’re thinking of making a podcast – just go for it. Help build the biggest and best collection of niche (read: interesting) content that the world has ever seen.
Related links: Podcasting and Museums – Shock and Awe or New Opportunities? , Britcaster.