Radio is back in vogue, and it’s probably got something to do with podcasts. The overwhelming rise in popularity of on-demand audio entertainment has now catapulted the radio into the 21st century, with shows like Serial, Stuff You Should Know, and Radio Lab pulling in huge audiences with each episode. For the most part, though, it’s a bit difficult to share the podcast experience with audiences in any novel format — really, you’ve two options; download it to your smartphone, or listen on the podcast’s website. Today, that all changes.
If podcasts are how the radio met the Internet, then WNYC Studios’ new experiment is how podcasts will meet social media. On Tuesday morning, for what the New York radio station believes is the first time ever, WNYC uploaded a brand new, full episode of the interview podcast Here’s The Thing to the station’s Facebook page.
Hosted by Alec Baldwin, this particular episode is a conversation between the actor and Jimmy Fallon. And while the Tonight Show host is more than accustomed to having his face appear on screen, this time, it’s just a photo of Fallon that listeners and viewers will get to see. The episode, while uploaded as a video file (because Facebook still doesn’t allow direct audio uploads), is one of the first attempts at viral audio — or at least, putting podcasts on a platform where content can be easily shared. Closely resembling the way in which audio is currently embeddable on Twitter, WNYC’s experiment seeks to explore the concept of “socializing audio.”
Native video has proven to be hugely popular on Facebook — back in June, the social media site’s video traffic reached 4 billion daily views — and the Internet giant has become a major outlet not only for sharing text and photos, but a number of other media forms as well. And with its autoplay feature, it’s hard not to watch videos on Facebook today. But how this will play out when it comes to podcasts and audio recordings has yet to be determined.
Still, WNYC hopes that with this first foray into the future of audio and its convergence with technology, podcast audiences will only grow larger, more engaged, and ever more loyal to radio on demand.