The New Oxford American Dictionary declared "podcast" the "Word of the Year" in 2005, beating out "bird flu," "Sudoku" and "trans fat." A combination of "broadcasting" and "iPod," the term is defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player."
It's another extension of the Internet's massive DIY push. Anyone with a computer and a microphone can record his or her own program, upload it to a web server and make the URL available to a podcatcher (like iTunes or Yahoo! Podcasts Beta). Listeners can then search the directory for programming of their choice, and by "subscribing" they receive automatic updates when a new feed is posted.
The technology differs from streaming services like web radio, because you only need to connect to the Internet long enough to download the podcast. Then you can take it with you-hence the adopted acronym of Play On Demand. This ownership aspect also brings about the issue of ASCAP and licensing, but that's another discussion for a much more boring newspaper.
Since New Oxford considers this the single most important word of the year, we figured San Diego must be teeming with über-hip podcasts.
But, apparently, not so much. Running a search on iTunes or Yahoo! Podcasts for "San Diego" turns up very little music. SeaWorld and the zoo have feeds, so you can tune out little Johnny as he yells and screams about dolphins and starfish and Icees in souvenir cups.
The largest thing we discovered was a need for a local podcast. But in the process, we discovered a few that are worth checking out:
FM 94/9 San Diego
Last update: Jan. 15, 2006
Overall: They have 17 episodes so far, including interviews and performances by Beck, Gang of Four, The New Pornographers and a handful of others. It's fairly exclusive and interesting material. Midori's "Big Sonic Chill" broadcasts are also available for download on the station's website.
Last update: Dec. 28, 2005
Overall: About a half-hour of decent indie-rock, including The National, Youth Group and Matt Pond PA. But the guy has no personality between tracks. (Besides an "I fucking love you guys" signoff.)
Last update: January 2006
Overall: Cathryn Beeks and Tim Pyles play a handful of local artists and others who've played weekly "listen local" showcases. Typical beachy coffeehouse vibe and Ms. Beeks practicing her mic skills.
What's in the Sink
Last update: Feb. 23, 2006
Overall: Local music icon Sven-Erik Seaholm plays a selection of his solo and production work. At least the guy sounds like he could host a show. Latest episode was about an hour and a half and didn't drag too much.
SD Indie Showcase
Last update: March 6, 2006
Overall: The best part about the latest addition is host Paul's six-minute introductory tirade against ASCAP and why he couldn't play any music by Willy Ames, the artist he was about to interview, pleading with listeners to write their congressperson. Awkward.
The Snare on KSDT
Found: Yahoo! Podcasts Beta
Last update: Jan. 20, 2006
Overall: This was the gem, an hour and a half of hip hop from UCSD's KSDT: Bushwick Bill, Beatnuts, Project Blowed, 3rd Bass, Atmosphere, plus Jon Stewart and Dubya quotes and fart noises. There's not much local music, and a jumbled tracklist makes it tough to identify which artist is playing. But by far the best we found in our search.