Video killed the radio star – podcasting revived it

Podcasting could challenge traditional broadcasters in the same way blogs did journalists – Valerie Vetter on those who are making their voices heard


Out with the blog and in with the pod. The idea of podcasting has grown out of blogging, or having a weblog, which is publishing your thoughts online as text. Now you can make and upload your sound files for a worldwide audience to play at its convenience. A huge driver of podcasting is the advent of mp3 players like the ipod (thus the name, podcasting). Ipods are personal stereos to which users can download mp3 (music or other sound) files from their computer or the Internet. Anyone can download their favourite show as an mp3 and listen back later on their mp3 device.

At its most basic, the recipe for podcasting is simple. You need a computer (with a sound card), a microphone, some recording software (with many free to download, like and a good webhost like to store your files for your baying audience. A good internet connection, like broadband, is vital.

Ireland is beginning to embrace the idea. It is already huge in the US and the UK. One Dubliner, banker-by-day, podcaster-by-night, Michael Ryan, has started podcasting on his site, A recent entry is a packed musical tribute to the Dutch on their national holiday. There is also, another Dubliner who podcasts his random thoughts on indie music and Tiernan's Comms Closet, with some uber-geek musings.

In a smart twist on an old idea, ("won't you butter me up?") podcasts for love – the premise being the singleton records a seductive message on their mobile using its MMS (multimedia messaging service), and then uses the phone's email to send it to If you like, you can even set up your mp3 player to automatically download your potential date's message as soon as it is posted.

"People wouldn't be single if they could say their inside thoughts," says multi-media student Liam Burke, one of the bright sparks behind the site. He is a third year from the Tipperary Institute of Technology. "My lecturer suggested podcasting for my third-year project and said that this is huge in the States. I have gotten a lot of emails from people in America and the UK and France but not much in Ireland yet. I have put posters up around the college to promote it. We can put up video too of people's messages but they're a little shy about doing that."

The other person behind the idea is James Corbett from, who came up with the name. He is a widely read blogger and web entrepreneur. Liam Burke had started an experimental podcasting website,, when he was contacted via email by James Corbett. The two have never met in person.

The UK's Guardian newspaper has just started doing something similar on its 'Soulmates' section, Ironically, Soulmates actually uses a Dublin-accented man's voice to help you with uploading your chat-up line. But Podato got there first.

"I don't want to knock them but to be honest the audio feature seems like a weak afterthought; their dating section still puts sterile text at centre," says Corbett. "And it's certainly not podcasting – the audio can only be played online through the browser. Podato on the other hand eschews the old ideas about dating sites entirely putting the warmth of the real voice back to the centre where it belongs. And we will also feature audio conversations among 'courting couples', not just audio profiles," he adds.

The vast majority of podcasts are free. Check out the comprehensive website,, to see the range. And you can even search the audio files now on Incredibly, you can put in a word or phrase, like 'banana' and it will search the audio to find where it is mentioned and give you a list of sound files, just like Google does with websites.

Podcasting began with an ex-MTV VJ (video jockey), Adam Curry, who started broadcasting from home using the basics, a microphone and some off-the-shelf software easily available on the web. His website has all of his musings, from his flying lessons to dishing the dirt on MTV.

Globally, you can listen to US-based or any of the BBC's 20 different podcasts. Another American podcast is the Catholic Insider. Created by an American priest and at the time of writing, it was number four on the Podcast Alley Top 10. The subject matter out there is as diverse as you can imagine. A Wisconsin couple host The Dawn and Drew Show. They have broadcast 100 shows and just talk about whatever comes to mind, including their toilet habits. For some podcasts you will need a piece of free software like ipodder ( to be able to download to your pc or mp3 player.

Internet giant Yahoo has launched its own music service on 11 May and as part of that, it offers individually customisable internet radio with LAUNCHcast.

Get ready. Inevitably, there will be new geekspeak. As well as the word "podcast", we have the term "podsafe", referring to whether or not the music played in a podcast is legal or illegal, and "ipodder", a person who uses an ipod. Basically, podcasting is about individuals doing their own thing, and you can sign up to be part of a new Irish podcasting chat group run by Liam Burke of Podato – sign on if you want to share your thoughts and rock the world, baby.