At Gnomedex I hung out with Adam Curry and got a chance to have a PodTech.net InfoTalk with one of the founding PodFathers. The podcast is at PodTech.net
John Furrier (JF): Welcome to the PodTech.net InfoTalk series with the famous Adam Curry, who is here at the Gnomedex Conference and is doing the Key Note on PodCasting, State of the Industry. Welcome to the PodCast!
Adam Curry (AC): Thank you, good to be here.
JF: Adam, you’ve got a daily source code PodCast, and now you’re doing the famous PodCast on the Sirus network, how are things going? What are you up to? Tell us what’s happening these days, and what’s on your mind!
AC: Well, there’s a lot going on actually. Well, most importantly, I’m having a lot of fun doing the source code. It’s not quite daily anymore. That’s really due to time zones and travel and sleep, but I’m getting all kinds of wonderful feedback continuously on that show, which is really my number one priority above anything is my show, because that’s what I love doing. Of all the things that I do, that’s what I love doing, and I feel a real responsibility to the people who are listening that I continue to do that and keep the quality high. And by keep the quality high I mean that I actually take time to prep and think about what I’m going to say and don’t do half-assed, just like, “Oh I’ve got to do something just to have something out there,” because I’d rather not. I’d rather skip a day than do something that’s not working. But I also try if I’m in a down mood to do the show anyway, because that’s okay if that comes through. So really, I’m still in just as much of an experimental phase as everybody else, I think, in this, because in the broadcasting background that I have you have very defined sets of feedback. It used to be postal - people would send you mail - and now, of course, it’s email, but there’s audio comments, and there are people on the street, and I recognize a lot of the types of feedback I’m getting and I think I know how to interpret a lot of that. But, the immediacy of it is beautiful and just trying new shit out every single day is fantastic.
JF: Well, you do a great show and you were mentioning to me when we were talking last night that you really focused on getting listeners, and that’s really on the show side. But what a lot of people don’t know, I mean the insiders know this in the industry, and the PodCasters know this, but you’ve really been a great leader in moving this whole thing forward. You’re doing a show, you’re also working on some cool things, tools, PodShow, it’s no secret that you’ve talked with Apple and folks about really making this easier so people can do their own shows, and I think what’s unique is that you have that media experience. Where is this going in terms of effecting mainstream media? Hey, average guys like me can put out good content, like an InfoTalk show, with no barriers to entry. Hey, that’s exciting. Where do you see the media shift happening. There’s a major shift, and…
AC: Well, you know, I have spoken with my PodCast, the hundred million listener march, and that was mentioned briefly here, though there is a little bit of a misconception on what that really means. It’s, to me, it’s like the web browser. It took awhile for everyone to have a web browser, but now are there like one hundred million web browsers? Probably more than that. That is essentially the platform through which we can distribute information and consume information. When I look at PodCasting, I kind of see this. I mean, how many PodCasts are there? 8,000? 20,000? Growing every day. I think something like 8,000 registered maybe, and there probably many, many more in all kinds of different fields. But I kind of view it as all one big station, one big radio station. And when I was in radio on radio stations what important was how far is our signal reaching - not for my individual show, to how many listeners will I get, but to how many people can we potentially reach? You know, what is the potential audience out there? And it’s amazing to see that each show that I do gets just a little south of 100,000 downloads, but still only 25-27% of that is through subscription, and that’s the RSS part, that’s the part that we’re here at the conference talking about, that’s the part that has to be better integrated. It’s seamless, as well.
JF: It’s an evolution, it’s happening.
AC: It is happening. So that’s really what I’ve been pushing, and you have to push in a number of ways. There are a lot of really smart people like Dave Wiener who are pushing it on the technology end, and I’m trying to push more on the media side.
JF: The business front, the media front, educating people.
AC: Sure. It’s really about… education is a big part of it. What the heck is this? I’d hate for people just to see us as bunch of geeks doing stuff that is geeky and technical. So, of course with that comes, in my mind, lots of opportunities to do stuff.
JF: Meet new people, getting content from people. I know that Michael Butler has his Rock and Roll Geek show. He’s got great content, and guys like me. There’s good stuff out there.
AC: And there’s an audience for that and PodCasting is a little different from a weblog mainly because it takes a lot of time to create this and if you want to do that for love, fantastic, then power to you. I think there are people who want to monetize that and I see a fantastic opportunity for commercialization of pieces of PodCasting. And so all of the ancillary stuff that comes with that you kind of have to take along for the ride. You have to help make tools or create your own tools to help people get on board because whereas writing, pretty much everyone understands how to write, most people, there’s a lot of technical hurdles in PodCasting that we have to help people get over, and the subscription part still isn’t….
JF: Well, let’s change gears and talk about Apple and the specifics right now. Everyone knows that Steve Jobs made that big statement at the developer conference about PodCasting. I know you’re close to a lot of discussions. How profound is iTunes and PodCasting in this new thing that’s going to be happening. What’s your view on that? Is it massive? I mean, what’s your view of the impact that it’s going to be?
JF: A blip on the radar? Massive?
AC: I think… here’s what I think is going to be great about it. If I say to people, “Hey, would you check out my PodCast?” Well, if they don’t know what a PodCast is then you have to go through a whole bunch of steps to explain it. God forbid you have to actually explain the RSS part. So now I can say, “Do you have iTunes?” “Okay, yeah I have iTunes.” So, in a week, there will be a thing there that says “PodCasts.” “So, click on that, and then click on me, and then you’ll get the PodCast.” That’s what I want to be able to say, but that’s also what I want to be able to say for Windows Media Player, and for Real, and for any other way people will be familiar with an application already. You know, explaining RSS and downloading…
JF: It’s an ease of use issue.
AC: That’s all that it is, totally. So that’s what I think is huge about it. At the same time they have done a couple of smart things that will be integrated into all iPod-ers. For instance if you don’t listen to a show that you subscribe to for five episodes it will suspend the downloading. You know, a lot of bandwidth considerations that…
JF: That helps the PodCasters and what not.
AC: Yeah, and for yourself, as well. It’s just a waste. It’s just minor stuff. But really the concept that I can say…. Who’s the audience? My audience, I believe, or potential audience, is people who have mp3 players and iPods. That’s the audience - those are the people I am after. I want people to listen to me - when they’re in the car when they used to listen to radio, that’s what I’m interested in. So, how do I get them there is by saying, “Do you have an iPod? Do you have an mp3 player?” “Yeah, I’ve got an iPod.” “Great, so go to iTunes, click on me, and it will automatically go to your iPod.”
JF: And soon it’s not even going to be explained, it’s going to be natural, just like downloading music.
AC: Yeah. It will be just like downloading music, in fact.
JF: Yeah, it will be seamless, and that’s the dream. I think that’s going to happen pretty quickly. I know that you have to run, but I just wanted to say that you’re doing a great job and everyone on the inside knows that, in the industry, and a lot of the outside people need to know that, not only are you doing a show but you’re also doing some really good stuff to build this industry.
On that note, one final prediction from you. Big prediction for the next couple of years. What’s your big prediction? What’s going to be happening?
AC: I’ve learned to be so careful over the years. Everything I’ve thought would happen took at least five years to happen, if not longer. There’s going to be, we are going to wake up one day and it will be clear that the rules have changed. That, I think, is going to be the big thing. The public that just consumes stuff and loves to watch and read, they are going to say “Hey, wait a minute, something has changed here, and I can do it too.” There’s a very small group that understands that now. Maybe it’s the 400 people in this room, maybe it’s 4,000, but it’s not much more than that who understand that “I can be the guy on the radio, I can be the guy on TV, I can be the guy in the newspaper, and you know what? I want to be, because I have something to say.” And when people are switched on in that matter, wow. Who knows what’s going to happen? Who knows. I’m just happy to be a part of this. This is really my third career, my third stage of life. I’m 40, and to be able to be a part of this, that’s a blessing.
JF: It’s really exciting - you just nailed it. It’s about “fresh voices”, it’s about having a voice and a platform for that. Adam Curry, thanks so much for the PodCast, great work, and let’s do it again.
AC: Thanks so much and good luck with your show.