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What’s Happening:

When podcasts first came out in 2004, when MTV VJ Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer distributed their shows Daily Source Code and Morning Coffee Notes via RSS feed, the form was anything but popular. Most people viewed them as an amateur form of radio, and wondered why they would want to download and listen to audio files of people talking.

Since then, however, podcasts have soared in both quality and popularity. Today there are roughly 660,000 podcasts in production, offering approximately 28 million individual episodes to eager listeners. The most popular of all time, Serial, has seen its first two seasons downloaded some 340 million times. How did the podcast evolve from its humble beginnings to the powerhouse it is today?


Why It Matters:

With its generally more intimate and informal presentation, these targeted nuggets of audio on demand might well be the future of media, according to Vulture.com. Even the most skeptical observers had to acknowledge their importance when music-streaming company Spotify bought the podcast-production company Gimlet Media for a reported $230 million in February 2019. That’s a long way from the beginnings of the format, when there was little money to be made in podcasting.


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