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Published on Apr 20, 2020 08:00 am:

Podcasting: Genre-Defining Or Mired In Medium?

Is comedy a genre? Is podcasting a genre?

I get that comedy is the underlying thread that ties standup comedians to comedic actors in movies. It’s the common thread that ties together the writing room of a sitcom as well as those who’ve made a career writing not just funny songs, but only funny songs.

So yes, I think comedy is a genre. But I’m less sure about podcasting.

I mostly view podcasting through a medium-shaped lens. All arguments about “what makes a podcast a podcast” eventually come down to the mechanics of media files distributed via RSS feeds. That definition clearly says that podcasting is a medium, since none of the words used speak to the content. 

When I got into podcasting back in 2004, it was as a creator. But I very quickly transitioned to becoming more of a facilitator. Even today, I’m still clearly a creator of content, but most of my contributions to podcasting remain on the facilitation side, which skews my perspective.

To really hold onto the notion that podcasting is its own genera, two things need to be true. First, there needs to be enough differentiation between content provided via podcast and other similar mediums. Second, there needs to be enough similarity between content provided within podcasting itself.

That second part is tricky. There's not a lot of overlap between the content put out by full-cast audio drama producers and a series of business-focused interviews. Yes, there’s some technology overlap, but I’m not convinced there’s a lot of commonality in the content. 

I realize most podcasters probably don’t struggle with this question. Which means you likely have an opinion of where podcasting fits, either as a genre or a medium. Sometimes I wish I had that level of clarity and conviction. 

Rather than try to put all of podcasting into a single box, maybe it’s better to just choose your perspective. And then maybe change that from time to time? I’m clearly medium-minded when it comes to podcasting. Perhaps I should work harder at being genre-minded, at least from time to time?

While we’re on lockdown, can I encourage you to increase your R-naught value? No, not by being irresponsible when it comes to public health, but in spreading Podcast Pontifications! I can’t stress enough how much it matters when you tell one person -- just one person -- who is also a podcaster about this show. It makes a huge difference.

You’ve also seen some mixed messages on when we might get out of this mess. Until that happens, I still want to share stories from podcasters just like you. So please, record some audio and send me a link to


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Podcast Pontifications is published by Evo Terra four times a week and is aimed at the working podcaster. The purpose of this show is to make podcasting better, not just easier.

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