2017-05-23
re:view – re:blog: Podcasts Need Platforms

Podcasts, blogs and vlogs: the alternatives to the classic media formats have long established themselves as serious competition for commercial and public broadcasting. The re:blog track discussed the possibilities and formats on offer and why they still haven’t realised their full potential.

After the death of print, radio now seems to be following suit too. Or is it? Podcasts could be the answer, but Germany still doesn’t have a central, open platform for podcasts. The big music platforms and public radio stations still treat the topic as somewhat of a black sheep. Audio contributions also play a minor role on social media – Facebook doesn’t even have an audio function. Christian Bollert from detektor.fm clarified that over 60 percent of the requests still run through iTunes, and even Soundcloud leaves a lot of potential unused. During the course of his talk, he formulated a plea for the formation of an association of podcasters, one that would bundle their interests and offers.

The stations themselves don’t make the most out of the potential that podcasts have to offer: many of the radio stations’ attractive offers are not collected in a clear and concise way and aren’t available on podcast platforms. Journalist Thomas Weibel showed a better approach in his lightning talk. He put his show 100 Sekunden Wissen (100 Seconds of Knowledge), from the Swiss station SRF 2, online in the form of an encyclopaedia – to read and to listen to. The page is searchable and equipped with keyword links. However, the project only came into being because Weibel took the initiative and built the site himself. The station’s marketing team thought his project was a waste of time: not compatible with the corporate website, too small an audience, no potential. Weibel criticised the inflexibility of many larger stations and advised the audience: when in doubt, just do it yourself. His podcast is available on iTunes and Google.

Science bloggers and podcasters have made it their job to communicate knowledge in an exciting and entertaining way communicate knowledge in an exciting and entertaining way. “Science rarely comes across as something sexy. We’ve got to change that” said blogger Patrick Breitenbach. “A cute, little unicorn baby dies with every sober scientific finding.” Scientific content should be packaged in an exciting way to be able to combat fake news and “Andy from Facebook” who keeps posting alternative facts. They should tell a story that you’d want to hear, not just dry theory.

Nora Hesper is already doing that. As the Anachronistin she wants to convert the story of her grandfather, Theo Hespers, from black and white pictures into “colour”. “My grandfather was a terrorist” she says. He fought against the Nazis as a resistance fighter in the Netherlands. She used to not listen when her father would tell stories about her grandfather. She would sigh and think “not another story from the Second World War”. She began researching when she realized just how current and relevant her grandfather’s story was in times of Pegida and the fear of an 'Islamisation of the Western World'. She lets listeners discover her family history in her podcast with an associated blog.

by Christina Spitzmüller, EJS

Photo credit: re:publica/Jan Michalko (CC BY 2.0)