For millions of people, podcasts are the number ONE source of news and current events. As well as a top source for tons of entertaining and educational content. But, how did this come to be? Understanding the rise of podcasting is not only interesting, but it makes us appreciate how far podcasting has come. 

Initially coined as “audio blogging”, the history of podcasting is actually quite expansive. We hear about names like Dave Winer and Adam Curry, and even Adam Carolla in the early days of podcasting. But, we know that the world of podcasting was first launched via audio files in the 1980’s, before we had a solid understanding of the internet and its power. It was this lack of understanding, combined with limitations in technology, that slowed the growth of podcasting. 

With the advent of modern tech, a new way of podcasting was born. The type of podcasting we know and love today. So, where did podcasting start and how did it become so popular? And how did we get where we are today? You’ll know the answer to all these questions by the end of this article! 

Whether your a beginner in the world of podcasting or you’ve been around the block a time or two, knowing the history of your trade can help you better navigate new trends and take your podcast to the next level. 

Let’s dive right in! 

History Of Podcasting

When Did Podcasting Start?

Podcasting before 2000

Podcasts or “audio blogs” actually predate the internet. Back then, podcasts were simply personal audio and video files, or audio and video content, that could be shared. Eventually, we encountered the creation of broadband internet and the online radio, which both played a key role in the growth of podcasts a little later down the road. 

Podcasting in 2004

A couple of important things happened in 2004 that gave rise to the world of podcasting. Most importantly, the creation of RSS feeds. All you need to know is that before RSS, it was really hard to create and share podcasts. Dave Winer (software developer) and Adam Curry (podcaster) can be credited with this feat, as they were the ones that put their heads together and figured out a way for the public to access and download “audio blogs”. 

In 2004, the term “podcasting” was used for the first time in a major newspaper publication. Written by Ben Hammersly in The Guardian, the term was created by combining the words “iPod” and “broadcast”. How cool? You can read his publication here.

Why Is It Called A Podcast?

2004 was also the year of Liberated Syndication, or Libsyn. In October of 2004, Libsyn launched as the first podcast service provider! 

When Did Podcasting Become Popular?

Podcasting in 2005

By early 2005, there were already tons of podcast directories floating around (like the one previously found Yahoo), and new podcasts were being created everyday. We also saw the creation of many new podcast networks and the release of the first how-to podcasting book, Do-It-Yourself Guide by Todd Cochrane. 

In 2005, President George W. Bush was the first president to have a speech delivered as a podcast. “Podcast” was also declared the “word of the year” by New Oxford American Dictionary in 2005. 

Finally, 2005 ended with the creation of Apple iTunes 4.9, which for the first time supported podcasts. This dramatically increased the ease of which people could access podcasts and was the start of podcasting as we know it. 

Podcasting from 2006 – 2013

The year 2006 opens with a historic keynote speech from none other than previous CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. In his speech, Steve Jobs demonstrated how to make a podcast using Garageband and changed the podcasting world forever. From this moment on, there was no shortage of new podcasts. A number of podcasts were being created on a daily basis and a number of podcast creators found their voice. 

In 2007, Ricky Gervais set a world record for the most downloaded podcasts, with over 200,000 downloads. This goes to show just how popular podcasts were becoming at this time, albeit some podcasts get over 1 million downloads in today’s world of podcasting. 

By 2009, studies showed that at least 43% of Americans had “heard of” podcasts, and that 23% had consumed at least one podcast, or downloaded media of some sort. 

Fast forward to 2011, and we see Adam Carolla reset the world record for downloaded podcasts with over 59 million downloads – wow! And by 2013, Apple announced that they had reached over 1 billion podcast subscribers. 

Modern Podcasting

Podcasting from 2014 – 2019

By 2014, tons of people were listening to podcasts. But, the growth didn’t stop there. 

In 2015, former President Barack Obama was interviewed by Marc Maron on the WTF podcast. This not only garnered a ton of views, but it also re-introduced the idea of listening to podcasts as a source of news and current events. 

It’s also important to mention an important court case that took place in 2017. A patent troll, called Personal Audio, LLC tried to sue several podcasters, on the premise that they had created podcasting. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the podcasters, and set a new standard in the podcasting world. This new standard being that ANYONE can create and host a podcast

Finally, in 2019, we saw Spotify rise as one of the top sources of podcasts in the world, alongside Apple Podcasts and Amazon Podcasts. 

Podcasting from 2019 – today

According to this article released by Forbes (March, 2022), podcasting was one of few industries that came out on the other side of the world pandemic bigger and stronger. As more and more people were searching for ways to pass the time, entertain themselves, and keep up with the latest news and trends, they turned to podcasts. And not only that, tons of podcast listeners became inspired and began making their own podcasts.

Forbes states “We presume the spike in podcast creation was due to the number of people at home that had the time to create podcasts. We also saw a considerable influx of celebrity podcasts. Again, we can assume that actors and celebrities turned to the contactless podcasting format because they couldn’t create new TV shows and movies.”

Another telling sign of the growth of podcasting since 2019 is the growth in ad spending. In 2019, ad spending in the podcast industry topped out at about 0.7 billion, but in 2023, it’s expected to hit a whopping 2.3 billion. WOW!!!!

Today, there are millions podcasts to choose from. Podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience garner over 190,000 million downloads each month. TSC: Him & Her recently hit 16 million. And in 2022 alone, Dear Media shows were more than 200 million times!!!! 

All in all, the podcast industry is currently growing rapidly. So, if you were wondering if now is a good time to jump in and start your own podcast – the answer is YES!

The only question left is: what will the future of podcast look like and how will your podcast fit in? 

Here at Dear Media, we hope you enjoyed this brief podcasting history!

As you can see, the podcasting industry has gone through some serious changes over the years. All of which led up to the world of podcasting we know today. While we weren’t able to include every. single. detail. that led up to the current world of podcasting, we’ve included all the main points in history that help us better appreciate this industry today. To stay updated on the latest in podcasting, see this post on Latest Podcast Trends, HERE.

If you’re interested in history beyond the history of podcasting, stick around. Take a blast to past with Summer of Gold – all about the story of the 1996 Olympic Games through the lens of the women Olympians who dominated that summer. Or, better your understanding of identity, the idea of community, and the possibility of our country with Tracee Ellis Ross, host of I Am America. To see our full shows list, click HERE.

For more entertaining and technical articles on podcasting, head on over to the Dear Media Blog. And, as always, we encourage you to leave any and all questions or comments below! Let’s make podcasting history together!