Over the past year I’ve been pushing forward an idea that as we begin to understand podcasts more, the more we need to define this work as a defined discipline. Back in the 1990’s academics concerned with radio did the same and out this came from radio studies, a movement which generated a network, a journal and a conference. All of this allowed radio to be taken more seriously and allowed academics from different disciplines to come together. One thing I’ve often noted at these conferences is how few people actually spend their time teaching radio. Whilst many people you talk have worked in radio, this is by no means a universal background. What is fascinating is that for so many of these researchers radio is a part of their work in another field. They might be interested in media histories, narratives, music, or language. The same can be said of the current interest in podcasts.
Academic interest in podcasting is diverse. Whilst some early work (like my own) came from what we might broadly call ‘media and cultural studies’, a quick search for academic work now produces more results from researchers in education. For these researchers podcasting is a means to offer learning materials to students in new and interesting ways. Podcasts let researchers publish their work, to offer on-demand lectures via MOOC’s, or to let students revisit complex lectures and make better notes. Podcasts are interesting to media scholars, to those working in digital media, but also to academics you like listening to them. Whilst each study might reach different conclusions, their interest in the same space is grounds for a shared banner under which to work.
Over the past few months I’ve had a the pleasure of working with Dr’s Dario Llinares and Neil Fox on a book on podcasting that we think will be first true collection of academic work in podcast studies. Our authors are from diverse disciplines, writing about podcasting from a range of perspectives. I’ll write more when the book comes out, but it’s already clear that 2018 will be a year when studies of podcasting enter the world of academic publishing in a big way.