Sunday, 2 September 2007

Are Podcasts in decline?

Please note that this was a post I start back in July but never finished. I've keep most of the original and just updated the rest.

As far as I know there are only a handfull of hiking/backpacking podcasts; but are we starting to see the demise of outdoor podcasts.

Already we have lost the trailcast podcasts which haven't been seen in over a year, Practical backpacking having started of like a steam train with roughly 25+ quality podcasts in less than a year, have had nearly 3 months between the last two.

The Wildebeat which has recently passed 100 episodes, is starting to struggle as its lastest podcast seems to imply. Although this particular podcast gives a good insight into the amount of work needed to put one together.

Backpacking Light Magazine although fairly new to the podcast scene (but the magazine has been around for some time.) look to have plenty of editors and contributors to keep this podcasts running.

One thing all the above have are that they are U.S. based and in the main deal with U.S issues and U.S. personnel.

Although they are all good podcasts and the content is pretty good; they are great for a listen to while commuting or when stuck in a tent but if they were to stop tomorrow I would miss them but as with a lot of podcasts I`ve subscribed to that have stopped, I've got used to it.

One podcaster in the last couple of years; that has made a big mark on the U.K. market is Podcast Bob. Bob has used the last two TGO challenges to product a 10-part series for 2006 and a 14-part one for 2007. In the past year Bob has had a partner in Andy Howell and between them they have produced some excellent shows with interviews from Paddy Dillion, Ronald Turnbull to informative shows about ultralight hiking and Bob & Andy's big days out.

It seems as though Bob is also coming to a point where the podcasts are starting to take up a lot of Bob's time (link) .

Like I say further along in that thread, personally I would be happy to pay some sort of subscription if need be, I know that the American one's are looking for subscriptions but as most of the imformation is not irrelevant to the U.K. I can't see me pay for them.

Some of the people/magazines that started out on Bob's channel have gone off to product their own podcasts namely Cameron McNeish and TGO; although again the ouput from them is not that high.

Hopefully the outdoor/hiking podcasts will continue and maybe a few more will join the fray.


It does seem as though Bob is looking to embark on a new podcast and do a weekly magazine style edition.

I`ve only picked it up through the forums on OUTDOORSmagic so don't know much more about it.


  1. George,
    good piece, if you listen to the two or three that Bob did of meet the podcasts, you will find out that the Trailcast stopped as the person doing it got a life.
    Yes there have been recently long delays between episodes on PBP recently, and I put that down to the person doing them actually being out there. But this podcast is done as an add on to the forum they have.

    Not listened to the wildebeat yet but will do ASAP.

    I think we need more UK podcasters putting their output out through The Outdoors Station.

  2. ’m not sure that podcasts are in decline, I just think we’re going to see na period of reassessment and realignment.

    The standard cheapo podcast consists of someone interviewing somebody over Skype and then posting online. Not only is this format limited there are only so many people you can interview! Face-to-face works better in that you are able to feed off each other; but getting face-to-face interviews is expensive.

    Bob and I are currently playing around with a lot of new ideas and innovations - and maybe you’ll here about some of them soon.

  3. Des Horan1:41 pm

    Perhaps when portable recorders become small enough and lightweight enough, then more walkers will be encouraged to do some reporting.
    Although once you’ve talked about climbing that hill, wading that bog in those trail shoes or cooking on that stove, the possibilities for interesting subject matter begin to dwindle.

  4. I reckon the next logical step should be pubpodcasting. The variety of subject matter and quantity of material generated after a few beers is immense (and usually amusing) after a day on the hills.

    Just don’t be tempted to run the recording through a bull5h1t-filter afterwards, or you’ll end up with no content.

  5. There is a rumour that Darren will doing the next TGOC in disguise and using a false name. One snag, he may well be travelling with me. How much my silence????????????????

  6. Thanks for posting this thoughtful article.

    Backcountry and outdoor adventure journalism is certainly a small niche when it comes to the percentage of the population who seek out such media. We knew it would be tough to support the cost of producing the WildeBeat from the beginning. I wouldn’t say we’re struggling, but we do need a certain amount of support from our audience in order to keep doing what we’re doing.

    Whenever some new media or media delivery system appears, there’s always an initial “gold rush” to get into it. People think that by being early adopters, they have a better chance of “making it big” in that space. The reality is that success requires the same level of hard work, luck, and willingness to take risks that success as any other media venture. Some will fade away for any one of a long list of reasons.

    We do, deliberately, appeal to a U.S. audience. That’s because we’re interested in the politics of preserving places in the U.S. for wilderness recreation fans to explore. We want to appeal to an audience who can do something about that. But also, our prospective sponsors are primarily looking for how we rate with U.S. audiences. However, you’d be surprised at how many European (and U.K.) hikers I meet in the backcountry of California and Oregon. So I assume that what we’re doing is useful to them as well.

    Andy Howell Says:
    “The standard cheapo podcast consists of someone interviewing somebody over Skype and then posting online.”

    We’ve always tried to do something more interesting than that. At least, when we do something like that, we edit it to only keep the most interesting parts.

    Andy Howell Says:
    “Not only is this format limited there are only so many people you can interview!”

    I disagree with that. Many “ordinary” people have extraordinary stories to tell, or gems of knowledge and experience worth sharing, if you can just get them to tell it. Sometimes you have to wade through an hour of mundane banter to get 5 minutes of great content. Thus, we edit. Nonetheless, our list of future story ideas, including our own and those contributed by listeners, can keep us doing weekly shows for several more years.

    That is, if our listeners and sponsors are willing to pay for it.

  7. Cameron McNeish1:45 pm

    Diversification is the answer. The straightforward question/answer interview is easy to do and can be interesting but most tend to be very long. I’ve been getting out there on the hill and podcasting my Wild Scotland series but, as someone, has said, once you’ve recorded footsteps in the mud it’s difficult to find different ways of doing it. You need to tell tales, and stories and offer good descriptions of the views that the listeners can’t see. This is difficult to do.
    We’re now moving into videos and I think there will be much better opportunities available, but, we’ll need to experiment a bit and see where it goes.
    I think you’re right about TGO and myself not putting out enough - problem is that we have a magazine to put out as well so time is limited. But to go back to your original question - is podcasting in decline? I would say NO, but it definitely is changing.