A Pod And A Wink
When I applied for the gig as Head of Radio here at BBC Scotland there were several other candidates vying for the job. It was, in fact, a ten horse race. At this point in the story some of you may be demanding a Stewards Inquiry or, at the very least, a dope test for the interview panel. Well, I'm sure the day is coming when BBC appointments will involve a text voting system for licence-fee payers, but back in the autumn of 2004, things were done in the traditional way. Each candidate had to present a vision for the future and then be grilled by four senior managers.
In my pitch I talked a lot about the future of digital radio and I remember throwing in some stuff about this new-fangled thing called Podcasting. I cited an article I'd read in Newsweek about how podcasts were so appealing to America's iPod generation and that "talk radio" in particular was attracting new audiences through this sexy new platform. Whether my panel of interrogators had ever heard of podcasting I couldn't tell. They sat, stony-faced and with arms folded. One of them produced a box of rotten fruit and began taking aim.
Or maybe I imagined that.
The point is that podcasting - now so familiar to us - seemed so revolutionary just a few years ago. Indeed I remember various gatherings of the Radio Festival where delegates debated whether or not this new craze represented an opportunity or a threat.
Today, all the research shows that podcasts actually encourage more people to listen to the radio. They act as bite-sized samplers which enourage people to tune in for more of the same.
The amount of time spent listening to downloads from radio stations isn't actually captured by the official audience figures produced by Rajar every three months. Separate research, however, tells us that they are incredibly popular.
All of which brings me to a little review of BBC Radio Scotland's podcasts which appeared in today's media guardian. It's written by Elisabeth Mahoney and, I have to say, her cheeky observations did make me laugh out loud.