Podcasting: A Personal Form of Media

In this week's newsletter, Alice Hazell discusses the value of podcasting as a public yet deeply intimate medium for conversation.

If you’re someone who keeps up with the Kardashians, then you are likely to have seen Khloe Kardashian’s most recent argument with Kris Jenner. If you haven’t seen the episode, then I’ll give you a brief: Kris suggested to Khloe that she start a podcast, to which Khloe replied that she would love to, but she couldn’t possibly take on a podcast when her ‘momager’, Kris, does not provide her enough support. While a whole book could be written on the mother-daughter-business dynamics that shines through in this episode of The Kardashians, the thing that was most notable to me was far simpler: 

One of the most famous women in the world wanted to create a podcast. 

When you look at the numbers, this isn’t surprising. Currently, there are over two million active podcasts worldwide, with around 465 million listeners. For context, as of the third quarter of this year, Netflix had 247 million subscribers. While it may be extremely competitive, it is also lucrative. As of May this year, The Joe Rogan Experience brought in an annual revenue of $60 million. For a form of media that has only existed for 20 years, these figures are phenomenal.  

With the recent launch of the new Oxford Media Society podcast, Spotlight, it felt worthwhile to briefly discuss why podcasting has such a unique place in the media. In the same way that The Kardashians is a direct line into the lives of the eponymous family, podcasts have a sense of personalness that other forms of media lack. From Emma Chamberlain’s Anything Goes, which she frequently records from her bed, to Stephen Bartlett’s Diary of CEO, which is just a conversation between him and his guest, you listen to a podcast in order to catch up with the host (and their guests) specifically. Authenticity is vital, so it’s unsurprising that some of the most popular podcasts in the world are hosted by friends, couples, or siblings. Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster is currently the third most popular podcast in the UK. The comedians have been friends since around 2011, and their familiarity and chemistry with each other is certainly the fuel to their comedic fire. A good podcast is made from a good conversation, one in which the listeners do not directly participate, but are nevertheless still included. I hope Spotlight embodies this same level of intimacy. Our hosts have spoken to people at the top of their fields, about their expertise and careers. As students at the beginning of their career, it’s a terrifying thing to do, but I also hope that in admitting our inexperience, and asking questions that we truly want to hear the answers to, our listeners are offered a direct insight into the media, and everything that comes along with that.

Alice Hazell, Podcast Director