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In the pre-dawn of the internet age, a new kind of voice crackled through the wires. It wasn’t the smooth tones of radio DJs or the formal pronouncements of news anchors. This was something different, a rebellion against the one-way flow of information. In the 1980s, audio blogging emerged, a whisper of a concept – sharing snippets of your life, your thoughts, your voice, recorded and sent out into the digital unknown.

A decade later, the seeds of change were sown. Carl Malamud, a pioneer of open information, launched “Internet Talk Radio,” a harbinger of things to come. As MP3 players like the Rio PMP 100 sashayed onto the scene, the ability to store and share digital audio became easier than ever. The stage was set.

The year 2000 arrived, a blank canvas waiting to be splashed with audio creativity. Audible, with its downloadable audiobooks, offered a glimpse into the future of portable listening. Apple’s iTunes, meanwhile, was laying the groundwork for a digital music revolution, quietly putting the power of organization in the hands of music lovers.

Then, in 2003, a spark ignited the flame. Chris Lydon, with his “audio blog post: back then,” arguably launched the first true podcast. The term itself, though, remained stubbornly uncoined. But 2004 was a different story. Ben Hammersley, a writer for the Guardian, took a bite of the apple (quite literally) and birthed the now-ubiquitous term “podcasting,” a clever fusion of “iPod” and “broadcasting.” Software like Adam Curry’s iPodder sprang up, allowing users to subscribe to these new audio shows and download them automatically. The audience was there, the technology was primed, and all that was missing was a way to connect them.

Apple, ever the trendsetter, filled that gap in 2004. By including a podcast directory in iTunes, they made podcasts discoverable for the masses. Suddenly, millions had access to a world of voices, stories, and information, all at their fingertips (or, more accurately, earbuds).

I put my toe in the water with my first self-published podcast on May 5, 2005. The title of the podcast was “Podcasting for The School Bus”. It was just a minute and a half long and you can listen to it here. I was a bit ahead of my time, and I lost interest in podcasting and so did my readers.

Then later in 2005, the dam broke. Subscription rates skyrocketed, with iTunes becoming the go-to platform for podcast exploration. Even President George W. Bush got in on the act, becoming the first US president to deliver his weekly address via podcast. To solidify its place in pop culture history, “podcast” was declared the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year.

The story doesn’t end there. Podcasting has exploded into a universe of its own. From true-crime sagas that keep you up at night to educational deep dives that spark curiosity, there’s a podcast for everyone. Monetization models have sprung up, with podcasters finding innovative ways to support their craft. Technology has kept pace, offering crystal-clear audio, user-friendly apps, and streaming services to make listening a seamless experience.

The exact number of podcasts globally is difficult to pinpoint due to the ever-changing nature of the medium. The estimated number of podcasts is 3 to 4.3 million. This range captures the most cited figures.

     I got back in the game in March of this year. A doctor friend of mine in Florida called me one day and told me, through his widespread knowledge of sports and sport celebrities, he had connected with Ron Cey. Ron was a star 3rd baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in the 80’s. His current business is podcasting. Ron opines on the latest sports and entertainment news, and features a wide selection of guests, including me. The Ron Cey Show, “We’ll See About That” is a good place for podcast excellence. You can subscribe to his podcasts and listen to them on your preferred platform including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Podcasts.

You can listen to my podcast with Ron Cey here.

Today, podcasting is a powerful force, a testament to the human desire to connect, to share, and to listen. With millions of podcasts and a global audience ever on the rise, this is just the first chapter in the ever-unfolding narrative of audio storytelling.

Note: I use Gemini AI and other AI chatbots as my research assistants. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.