Podcasting: The New New Media

Hockey blogs are everywhere these days.  The structure of the hockey blogosphere is coming into focus as a pyramid, with the big four at the top of the pile, trickling down into the base of the rest of us.  Along the way, as the pyramid widens, the field spreads out, and things open up a little. I could go further into links being like sacrifices cast down to the waiting masses, but I think the analogy is breaking down already.

Not so (yet) with podcasting.

Podcasting shouldn’t be a foreign object for those of you who read this blog.  You are all media junkies, right?  For the uninitiated, podcasting is like radio or tv on a hard drive, or over the internet.  A person records an audio or video podcast, puts it online, and the world if free to download it and watch.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and all sorts of styles.  The difference (to me, at least) between just putting some media online and podcasting is that podcasting requires frequency.  It has to be done often enough to warrant return visits, or be a limited series.  Most podcasts can be downloaded, but some are initially done as live streams.

The history of podcasting is shorter than the history of blogging, and hasn’t established itself as a hardcore medium yet, partially due to some misconceptions.  Such as, you do not need an iPod to listen to a podcast.  Almost anyone with a computer hooked to the internet can download and listen.  Here is a page I made explaining the basics of podcasts.  There’s even some funny stuff there.

The issue for me with podcasts is that a culture does not exist in the audience yet of regularly downloading and listening to podcasts.  The first thing I do in the morning after grabbing my coffee is open up the laptop and see what blogs my feedreader has updated.  It’s easy, it’s right there, and it’s ready for me.  The key word there is yet, since habits are easy to form when you want something.  How long ago was it that the RSS feed was completely off the radar?

Listening to a podcast can also be a bit of a commitment.  I try to keep my podcast short, around half an hour without bogging down too far into a topic that we make people want to tune out.  Some podcasts border on 2 hours long, while some can be as short as two minutes.  Sifting around for the shows that fit your lifestyle should be half the fun.

Podcasting is going to be more and more important to the hockey world at large.  As more and more people buy portable mp3 players (you may not need one to listen, but it makes life easier), they are going to be looking for more content to fill them, and people who don’t care to subscribe to a satellite radio service or have a commute involving public transit have hit the jackpot of free content (did I mention that most podcasts are free?).

To me, podcasting is to blogging what blogging is to writing.  It’s the next step in the mainstream acceptance of online media.  And before you laugh at that last sentence, take a moment to think about where we are now in online media acceptance, thanks to the top of the pyramid.

From the polished to the slack, there are all sorts of podcasts to fill your needs and time.  A brief look around the Podosphere (did I just coin a term?):

Puck Podcast – Excellent show from the west coast.  Plenty of guests to keep you informed.

The Blueline – A monologue worth listening to.  Smart hockey talk every week.

The Crazy Canucks – You saw them on the bus ads, now listen to what they have to say.  Good roundtable style podcast.

The Program – Chris Wassel (who will be contributing here this week as well) hosts.  Call in live to join the party.

Kings World – 2 LA Kings bloggers doing it weekly.

Face Off Hockey Show – Live on Wednesday nights.

Avs Hockey Podcast – The name says it all.

Of course, I have to plug The Rink, a podcast I do with Tom Luongo.  More like a radio show, once a week, (twice when possible), Tom and I talk hockey and not much else.  As often as possible, Tom and I get guests from around the hockey blogosphere to join us.  And hey, if you are a blogger, and interested in joining us for a chat, drop us a line from the site.

There are a lot more hockey podcasts out there.  Fire up google or itunes and start looking around.  Some teams have “official” podcasts, but most of the podcasts out there are like the blogosphere: independent.  If one podcast doesn’t suit your tastes, check out the next one.  They vary not only in size and style, but also sound quality.  You may find something that you want to keep tabs with. You could plug in your iPod at night before bed, and wake up with new content every morning if you wanted.

Remember, you don’t have to be excluded from solid hockey talk just because you don’t fit into the local radio schedule, or have satellite radio.  In this economy, free doesn’t suck.

Viva la Podolution!!!

Thus ends my stint here as a fill in contributor. Thanks for putting up with me.  I doubt Steve will make the same mistake again, but I have to say that I enjoyed myself.  I had been wanting to do a liveblog covering the Versus coverage for some time now, and this was a great way to do it.  It never seemed appropriate for my blog.

Steve is in tonight with a liveblog of the Versus Islanders vs. Flyers broadcast. Stick around.