The Smell of Smoke After Fireworks

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and relaxing 4th of July weekend. We had a great time visiting with friends and family and getting recharged. This is not so much a full post; I’m just sharing a few thoughts and a handful of links to interesting reads and bits of news from the last few days.

Independence Day Weekend

My boys and I watched the fireworks in our neighbors’ yard on Saturday night from their bedroom window. What amazed them most was not the fireworks themselves, but the thick plumes of smoke that rose up and wafted through the tall forest that surrounds our home. Later that evening, as I took the trash out to the curb, I could smell the heavy smell of gunpowder mixed with rain. It’s a smell that you get perhaps once a year, but it takes you back to the last time as soon as you notice it.  I still think that smell might be the most powerful sense of all.


Washington, D.C. July 4th fireworks
Washington, D.C. July 4th fireworks

Last night we were home before any fireworks began, but a proper barrage started as they lay in their beds getting ready for sleep. They thought it was a thunderstorm, and Jen and I were happy to let them think as much in order to get some rest.

Afterwords from The Future of Podcasting is You 

  • If like me, you’re into podcasts and where the medium is going, you may be interested in this new development from the folks at Podbean. Their new advertising program allows brands to get placements on Podbean hosted shows that are read by the show hosts themselves.  Select shows offered this before, but this is a nice benefit for a network.  

  • The latest issue of the Hotpod Newsletter from Neiman Journalism Labs is out. Particularly fun is the included profile of the Relay.FM podcast network.

  • I was featured on a fun live interview last week with the team at Carpool Talk Show.  Stay tuned for the replay link.

Reminders of Unspeakable Acts

  • Legendary author and holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, passed away this weekend at the age of 87. What amazes me is that he actually wrote 57 books; something which seems to be glossed over given his most famous recounts his experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Check out these powerful recaps of his life from the New Yorker and New York Times and get a sense of what is lost now that one of the few remaining witnesses passes away.

  • In a bizarre twist today, the leader of the KKK, David Duke responded to (and seemingly condoned) an antisemitic tweet from Donald Trump.  

  • I’m listening to one of my favorite all-time albums, the HELP charity album for the war in Bosnia.  It’s a fantastic collection of music, pulled together to support aid for a particularly dark time in recent history. This article from the Guardian recaps the history of the project fairly well, 15 years on


The Future of Podcasting Is You

 The future of podcasting is looking bright. I think it might be the next major wave of personal publishing.  It could become the darling of advertisers who will see it as a way to reach legions of new buyers. I’m going to explain how we got here, and what you can do to ride that wave with your business. 

When Did Podcasting Start, Anyway?

I became a fan of podcasting before it was such a thing. Initially, it was mp3 audio recordings of my favorite late night radio show, Idiot’s Delight with Vin Scelsa.  Pretty soon, some folks that were smarter than me, like Dave Winer, changed things. They released a set of open technologies to publish and share audio just like other blog articles.  Thus podcasting was born.
What’s interesting is that it never slowed down.  Podcasting has grown more modestly than other media formats, but grown nonetheless.   If you were an NPR listener, you most definitely hooked up with some of their podcasts over the years.   Certain author and Tech communities loved them as well.  Even @ev, created a podcast oriented company called Odeo on the heels of Blogger. He and his team got the idea for Twitter during that time and moved on with its development instead.  That said, podcasting had lots of great mind power, but no huge breakout hits.
Percent of Americans (12+) listening to podcasts monthly
Source: Digiday, The Second Coming of Podcasts
Over the last couple of years, podcasting has returned to popular conversation. It seems like someone is always talking about a new podcast they are listening to or coming up with an idea for a new one.  It feels like there is a new swell in podcast activity.  Not to mention resources for podcast creators and brand advertisers.
As it turns out, the swell had been building over the last decade. The audiences are now starting to become large enough for advertisers to care. All it took was a couple of hit shows, like Serial to inspire a new generation of content creators. Consider the content marketing boom, and it is the perfect storm for a medium like podcasting.

Why Are Podcasts So Successful?

1. Podcasts fans love to collect podcasts 

Collecting, you say?  Like baseball cards?  Sort of. More like having a favorite band or author.  Once you fall in love with one of their works, you want to hear their whole discography.  You then graduate to listening to the bands that inspired them. Podcast listeners are no different. They like to set their pod catchers to download a mix of regular favorites and new finds.

2. Episodic Content

Podcasts are sticky. The short storylines allow for quick immersion into a new topic without being comprehensive.  A regular publishing cadence keeps listeners returning; much like our favorite television shows.

3. They are tribal

Podcasts provide a way to bond with fans of your respective niche. A familiar host is an old friend that you get to spend time with.  New ideas are available on demand. No more waiting months until your favorite conference comes to town.

Will Podcasts Lead to A New Wave of Personal Publishing?

I think so. Increased mobility has positioned smartphones as the control panel of our lives. They are becoming the center of entertainment and workplace interactions.  They provide the single thread that weaves these experiences together.


Beyond this, I see two benefits for people with something to say (content creators):


1. The Tools to Create Great Podcasts Are Plentiful and Often Free 

There is a high probability that if you are reading this, you own a smartphone. If you do, you likely have access to a high quality piece of recording software for audio.  Do you use Skype to talk to colleagues? Skype is helps produce many of your favorite podcasts today.  Need to edit those recordings?  Tools like Auphonic make it possible for a small fee.

2. Podcasting Has An Ecosystem of Democratic Distribution Tools

For some time, the main option for podcast distribution was iTunes. That not the case anymore.  SoundcloudStitcherPodbean and many more offer hosting for creators. Some provide tools for listeners to find your show via topic affinities.  Others like ACast, include rich analytics and monetization tools for creators.


What’s Next?

Individuals creating specialized content are a threat to big brand dominance of the airwaves.  Smart brands will try to create environments for content creators to build a platform.  Streaming leaders like Spotify and Amazon have the opportunity to take the lead here. They could also get overtaken by more focused upstarts like Acast.  Our new “radio” stations will be custom built and travel with us, in our pockets, on our wrists and in our cars.

With this in mind, what is stopping you from creating a podcast focused on your area of expertise? You could become the next star of my morning commute.



Over the last two years or so, I’ve had a hankering to write this article.  The title of this article is also a nod to the great Chris Brogan, who included it on a list called “Top 100 Blog Topics I Hope You Write.”

Recommended Reads:

Have any favorite podcasts or thoughts on podcasting?  Share in the comments below or on Twitter.