Here at Mr. Thrive Media, an enthusiasm for podcasts is at the heart of everything we do. Our founder, Chaz Volk, started out in podcast production and built the multi-media marketing and podcast agency of Mr. Thrive from that podcast base. Our enthusiasm for podcasts makes us particularly excited for this blog on the history of podcasting.
The history of podcasting officially starts in 2004, when the first podcast was created. Of course, there are the podcast precursors of radio and other forms of media. From a technical point, however, the history of podcasting is as a child of the 2000s.
These days, podcasts are a second-nature media format. Everyone and their mother listens to podcasts. It’s a booming industry, and it’s well worth diving into the history of podcasting to see how they became the sensation they are today. From increased podcast accessibility to public speakers in podcasting making a difference, the podcast industry has grown exponentially.
This Mr. Thrive blog is our place to take that dive. We’ll learn all about the history of podcasting and how they’ve been shaped for the future.
The Origins of Podcasting
The origins of podcasting range across decades. The origin story came to fruition in 2004, with the start of the first recognized podcast. That said, there were many decades beforehand when podcasts were a dream on the horizon–even if folks weren’t aware of the dream. From radio to internet streaming, different forms of sharing information have been ramping up to podcasts for quite some time.
When we talk about the origins of podcasting, we’re talking about those podcast precursors just as much as the first official podcasts. The human drive to create something and share it with as many people as possible spurred on different modes of media over the years. Most of them are still used today in some form, with podcasts being one of the most popular forms.
The primary podcast precursors are radio and internet talk radio. The combination of those two ideas is the basic plan of a podcast. These days, those media sources haven’t died, but they are steadily downplayed alongside the popularity of podcasts. There are still radio shows on air, but you don’t hear about them in the same way you’ll hear about someone’s favorite podcast.
With new technological advances every day–including AI in business–it’s easy to get swept up in new trends and popular forms of media. With those new advances, however, it’s more important than ever to remember the media that led the way for what we have today. Podcasts are the result of years of other media forms working hard to share information.
The first podcast from 2004 was just the beginning of what we now know is possible with podcasting. The term podcast was coined in 2004 by Ben Hammersley of The Guardian. Hammersley combined the words “iPod” and “broadcast” to explain podcasts as a radio broadcast you could listen to directly on your iPod.
You’ll find different sources and ideas when you look into the first podcasts. A majority of sources credit Adam Curry and Dave Winer with the first podcast in 2004. Some say it was Chris Lydon and Dave Winer in 2003.
As you dig into the question of the first podcast, you’ll find even more. This muddling around the first podcast shows how quickly podcasts began to take off, with so many people making them around the same time.
The podcasting timeline covering the history of podcasting is a concise way to see how media evolved into podcasting. It also shows how podcasting has grown over the last few decades. There are periods of the podcasting timeline where changes happened very rapidly–especially the COVID-19 boom of podcasting. Those rapid times were set up by the early podcast days.
For our podcasting timeline, we’re breaking it down by the decade. From the 2000s to the 2010s into the 2020s, podcasts have seen immense growth. From the early days to these days, when anyone can make a podcast–and grow a podcast business–the history of podcasting is impressive.
The 2000s saw the creation of the podcast. It started in 2004. In 2005, the world of podcasts expanded when Steve Jobs introduced the idea of podcast subscriptions. Jobs made it so that more than 3,000 podcasts were available to listeners. Also in 2005, George W. Bush became the first president to have his weekly address delivered as a podcast.
The 2010s were a time when podcasts began to ramp up, with more downloads and listeners than ever before. In 2012, Edison Research found that 29% of Americans had listened to a podcast. That was a large number then, it’s shocking to see how it’s grown to over 200 million Americans who have listened to a podcast now.
In 2016, Apple reported 10 billion podcast downloads. That number surpassed the popularity of social media. It was official, podcasts were becoming a prominent source of entertainment, news, and general information.
At the time of writing for this timeline, we’re in 2023. We’re just a smidge into the 2020s, and we’ve already seen extreme growth in the podcast industry. In the year 2020, 1,019,272 new podcasts hit the market. That number has dropped bit by bit in the following years. That’s not surprising considering how many people had time on their hands in 2020.
These days–in the years between 2021 and 2023–the growth of the podcast industry has started to level out. The pandemic boom got a lot of podcast producers started. Now it’s the time for the industry to find its rhythm, and make room for the future of podcasting.
The Future of Podcasting
While looking back on the growth of podcasts through their history, our minds slip into thoughts around the future of podcasting as well. We’ve talked about podcast trends in 2023 on the Mr. Thrive blog. We can expect growth in niche podcasting, revenue changes, vodcast growth, specialized equipment normalization, more data usage, and corporate podcasting.
But what about the years beyond 2023? The podcast industry may have slowed down since the pandemic boom, but it continues to grow at a steady pace. There’s one sure thing about the future of podcasting: it’s going to be as bright and full of potential as podcast history.
Frequently Asked Questions About Podcasting History
The history of podcasting is a subject that inspires many questions. From new podcasters to listeners looking for more, the people asking these frequently asked questions have a variety of motivations for their curiosity. Our answers to these questions will satisfy your curiosity no matter what you’re looking to learn more about in podcasting.
When Did Podcasting Begin?
Podcasting began in 2004, with the work of Adam Curry and Dave Winer. They are the people credited by most sources with the creation of the first podcast. There are sources that debate that fact. Across the internet, most folks are in agreement that the work of Curry and Winer in 2004 was the first podcast.
Who Is the Richest Podcaster?
There isn’t a definitive answer about the richest podcaster, but 2022’s numbers put Dave Ramsey, with The Dave Ramsey Show, at the top. His net worth is rumored to be around $200 million. There are a great number of podcasters who make millions of dollars, from low millions to into the range of $40 million.
What Is the Longest Podcast Ever Recorded?
The title of the longest podcast ever recorded to date goes to a Dutch team of podcasters. In October of 2022, a variety of podcast hosts came together to record 153 hours of uninterrupted content. The previous record for the longest podcast was just over 50 hours, making this feat of 153 hours exceptionally impressive.
How Old are Most Podcast Listeners?
A large portion of podcast listeners are between the ages of 12 and 34. In recent years the percentage of that age group of podcast listeners has changed incrementally. It hovers around 50% of reported podcast listeners. If you’re looking to start a podcast and make your mark, finding a niche with a demographic in that age range is a good start.
Podcasting History: Podcasts Through the Ages
The history of podcasting has led us to this day and age. Anyone can make a podcast, find their niche, bring in great podcast guests, and make their mark. When you learn about the history of podcasting, it’s easy to see why people want to make their own podcasts. It’s an industry with unlimited potential for information and community.
When you’re ready to take the podcast plunge, reach out to Mr. Thrive Media. Our team of podcast production specialists, marketing experts, and virtual assistants are ready for anything and will get your podcast up and running. Wherever you want to fit in the historical record of podcasting, we’ll get you there.