The power of podcasts: the rise and fall of audio during lockdown

With routines disrupted and people housebound, here’s how podcasts provided a welcome distraction and form of connection during lockdown.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, what is now known as podcasting was starting its life out as ‘audio blogging’.

It’s still argued about today, but two American internet entrepreneurs, Adam Curry and Dave Winer, are said to have invented the podcast in 2004.

Fast forward to 2020 and podcasts have taken on an entirely new identity to keep people feeling connected during a global pandemic and also offer a form of distraction.

Stories of our Times podcaster Manveen Rana thinks that podcasts offer something a bit more personal.

She said: “The one thing that podcasts do better than most other formats, is they give you a voice in your ear. It’s slightly more personal, more intimate.”

Ofcom’s 2020 report states that April and May 2020 in particular showed large increases in the number of podcasts added to Apple Podcasts, with over 1 million new podcasts being listed in April 2020 and 1.1 million in May 2020, compared to 870,000 in January 2020.

This statistic shows that nearly a staggering quarter of a million new podcasts had been added since January 2020.

Click here to read more about the listening and download figures for podcasts during lockdown and find out which famous person’s podcast was the BBC’s number one last year.

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