Podcasts are having a moment, but can it last?

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CC BY-NC 2.0 by david shortle

It’s a thrilling time to be an audio-maker.
From Fast Company to the The Washington Post, press has caught wind of a “golden age of audio.” The buzz isn’t out of nowhere: more and more media organizations are putting their bets on podcasts, launching podcast networks like PRX’s Radiotopia and American Public Media’s Infinite Guest.

But there are still some barriers to overcome before born-digital audio storytelling is established as a viable medium. Less than half of Americans are even aware of podcasts — and the playback experience is apparently so intimidating that, in promotion of This American Life spinoff podcast “Serial,” Ira Glass was compelled to make a podcast download “explainer” video featuring his elderly neighbor.

We started Pop Up Archive to overcome obstacles to audio access.
We want it to be as easy to find an interesting radio show or podcast as it is to enter a search term on Google. And getting indexed by search engines shouldn’t require producers and distributors to rewrite stories from scratch, simply because they happen to be told originally as audio and not text.

Part of the answer lies in using speech-to-text software to extract keywords from media — so audio creators can focus on the story, not the transcript. We’re identifying the best ways to make use of machine transcripts and tags to help radio and podcast shows get discovered by audiences hungry for them. If you think you could benefit from this work, we’d love to hear from you!

There’s still time to join Pop Up Archive’s audio search pilot program for podcasts and radio shows. Apply here.