Researching Podcasting in the US

My PhD project focuses on the transition from analogue to digital radio and how works of acoustic art relate to it. Thus, the development of the US-American podcast scene is of special interest for me, as it takes a leading role in the field. The term podcast was first coined in 2004 as a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast” and referred originally to digitally produced and distributed audio programs on the internet, which were published periodically and could be subscribed to via RSS feed. As podcasting is still a rather new media phenomenon and the academic field of podcast studies is just about to emerge, I applied for the 2018 U.S. Embassy SANAS Travel Award to do field research. Altogether my journey lasted 14 days and covered ten interviews in five cities.   

Due to its relevance for US-American radio history and the development of the podcast-scene, I started my research in Chicago. Thanks to the city’s geographic location, the first Chicago radio stations in the 1920s were listened to from the East coast to the Rockies and beyond. Needless to say, that Chicago emerged early on as a broadcasting center and a central switching point for transcontinental network lines, attracting various creative media people. One of them was the legendary radio host Louis “Studs” Terkel (1912 – 2008).

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