A love letter to Podcasts (am looking at you Brains on!)

(and why I think we can’t celebrate podcasts yet)

If there is one industry that I am not-so-secretly hoping will come back with a bang, it is that of podcasts. Podcasting has been around for much longer than people care to remember (its not new. I collaborated on a not-so-creatively titled podcast series called SodaPop as early as 2008). I mentally cheer in my car when I hear that the Startup Podcast is a success and Serial has been hailed as one of the coolest things in 2015. I personally cannot get enough of Product Hunt and Ryan Hoover’s amazing team.

‘Brains on’ was discovered by my family in 2015 and we couldn’t stop listening to it. It is SERIOUSLY the coolest podcast that allows me to have a great conversation with my kids. To my nostalgic mind, it is a fantastic replacement to watching videos in the car, and I could mute it or pause it for conversations ( I mean, how often do I get to pause to listen to what kids think of seizures and epilepsy at SEVEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING ON THE SLEEPY DRIVE TO SCHOOL??) I love that they have this fantastic kickstarter campaign and have my fingers crossed that they will reach their goal quicker than some of the really crazy things I’ve seen on kickstarter.

But lets hold the horses on the jubilation. Podcasts aren’t there yet. Just about 18% of the US population had listened to podcast in the last month (Edison Research) and the uptick has been painstakingly slow. While I laud efforts to make podcasts palatable (annotation, make it easy to share!) I wish we would stop pretending the real problem with podcasts doesnt exist.

Its that PEOPLE DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET PODCASTS!

A majority don’t, I am not kidding. My Silicon Valley buddies run the range — from early adopters to laggards but this is one area where i feel the growth should be way higher than it is. And yes, the Bay Area is a bubble but if 40% of people i speak to here are still trying to decipher podcasts, its a problem.

When Alex Blumberg in his second season of Startup said “download on iTunes” he has already alienated 60% of my friends who are Android users. I know people who LOVE the idea of a podcast but literally cant wrap their head around accessing, downloading and listening to them (its not youtube level of ease of use yet is it?)

So here is my question — how do we get people to understand/access and engage with podcasts? What are the best examples You have seen of educating people about podcasts?

And if you have kids, seriously consider listening to Brains on.

Am still listening,

Sapna

P.S-I am the co-founder of a tiny startup aimed at bringing news to kids. Go ahead and check us out at xyza: news for kids (pronounced zy-za).

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