Are Podcasts Still Relevant

Podcasts have become a commonly used option when it comes delivering media content to the masses. This month we asked the LTRC board members their thoughts on podcasts and whether this form of media is here to stay. 

Our Panelists:

Natalie Kelly (NK), Steve Embry (SE), Aaron Street (AS), Tom Mighell (TM) and Sofia Lingos (SL) Dennis Kennedy (DK), Nicole Bradick (NB).

In terms of relevance, are podcasts a thing of the past, present, or a form of media that’s still expanding?

NK: I think podcasts are still expanding.  I think this is due in part to changes in the way people are consuming information and the way technology is responding.  People are looking for more convenient mobile options for getting at information, and podcasts fall nicely into the fray.  Apple’s new iPhone 7’s lack of a phone jack, and the new AirPods and their coming competitors; and virtual reality units; are the type of supporting technologies that feed directly into the relevancy of podcasts and their expansion.  I think people are once again attracted to personal “on-body” consumption experiences, and can get that from podcasts.  No more holding the boom box on your shoulder!

SE: Frankly, I think it’s expanding. Here’s why. When podcasts first came out, you had to connect to the wifi, download the podcast to your cell phone and then you could play it later. So it you wanted a certain daily podcast, you had to take the time and remember to download each day. Now, whether you download from the wifi or not, you can always access a whole sphere of different podcasts. That plus the expanded tools to actually do a podcast have made it so easy for virtually anyone to do one. Finally, the expanded use of video and social media have opened new outlets for podcasts that didn’t exist before.

AS: Podcasts are definitely growing, and rapidly. Between recent investment in great programs, strong podcast apps on smartphones, and increasing availability of Bluetooth audio in cars, podcasts have just started to mature in the last year or two.

TM: Podcasts are definitely a here-in-the-present thing, with room for a lot of expansion in the future. Although podcasts have been around for more than 10 years, they really weren’t mainstream until the past few years. The public radio podcast Serial was really responsible for bringing podcasts to the forefront of online media; by taking a criminal prosecution and dissecting it episode-by-episode, the show was able to capture a lot of listeners who would otherwise not even know podcasts existed. Even better, Serial was responsible for a literal avalanche of new podcasts, on just about any topic, and produced by professional and amateur podcasters alike. I really think it’s just starting to get interesting.

SL: As with anything delivered by digital media, I believe the popularity of podcasts is ever expanding.  When Serial hit the airwaves in 2014, it ranked number 1 on iTunes for several weeks and brought a lot of attention to podcasts from first time listeners.  Ironically the material is part of a legal documentary.  I think it takes time to adapt to digesting information solely audibly, and as potential listeners get more exposure, the relevance of podcasts will continue to increase.

DK: All of the above. We are clearly in the golden age of podcasting. There’s never been so many good podcasts on so many topics. The early era of the low-tech, one person podcasts seems to be over. The creation of podcast networks, commercialization of podcasts and greater familiarity of people with the podcast media format have expanded the podcast audience and I don’t see any signs of that expansion slowing down in the near future. I will also note that the length of podcasts seems to be expanding. I’m not sure that’s a good trend.

NB: It seems to be an evolving format for sure.  The high quality legal podcasts out there boast solid listener numbers, but I think the challenge in the future will be to figure out ways to make the format more digestible and keep the content fresh. Legal podcasts can learn a lot from mass-consumed podcasts like Serial, which are notable for their storytelling style and high production quality.

Do you listen to podcasts, and if so, what are some of your favorites? Do you have your own?

NK: I don’t have my own podcast, but I have been known to take in some of the mainstream legal podcasts from the Legal Talk Network, the Digital Edge,  the Kennedy-Mighell Report, and The Legal Toolkit.

SE: Not to toot some of our LTRC members but the Kennedy Mighell podcasts is one of my favorites. It always brings good info and suggested tools, is interesting and concise and Dennis and Tom play well off each other. Interesting and great content.
I listen a lot to Legal Talk Network materials. For non law topics, I listen every morning to Garrison Keillor Writers Almanac-it’s always nice to start the day off with some poetry.. I like the Tim Ferriss Show-he regularly has interesting guests and is a good interviewer. Note to Self has interesting topics and Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History, when he was doing it (I think it’s returning soon) was really fascinating. I also lister to Leo LaPorte’s The Tech Guy sometimes. He has some interesting points and guests although sometimes it’s gets too long and complicated.

AS: I co-host the weekly Lawyerist Podcast. outside of law, I love Reply All, Revisionist History, The Tim Ferriss Show, and Radiolab, among others.

TM: I use podcasts to keep up with the latest in technology and current events rather than via more traditional media. My favorite podcasts include:

  • Politics – the Slate Political Gabfest, Five-Thirty-Eight Podcast, and NPR Politics
  • Technology: Mac Break Weekly, Connected, and Mac Power Users (Macs); All About Android, Android Central Podcast (Android), Gadget Lab Podcast, Daily Tech News Show (general tech), Note To Self (getting along with technology)

Dennis Kennedy and I have had our own podcast for about 8 years now – The Kennedy-Mighell report just published its 176th edition. We talk about legal technology from an internet perspective, and have a lot of fun doing it.

SL: I do not have my own Podcast, because I have a hard time even listening to my own voicemail (I do however teach a law school course for two hours every week and my students have yet to complain).  I do listen to podcasts, some regularly and some in response to a specific topic I’m investigating.  A few of my favorites include (in no particular order): the Kennedy-Mighell Report, Lawyerist, Legal Tool Kit, Digital Detectives, Lawyer 2 Lawyer, Un-billable Hour, New Solo and Ted Talks (they have their own app).

DK: I am the co-host of The Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network. We call it a legal technology podcast with an internet focus. I listen to a ridiculously large number of podcasts. Podcasts drop on and off my list, so my favorites will vary from time to time. It’s difficult for me to name favorites. BBC’s In Our Time, Slate Money, WealthTrack, a16z, TechNation Radio Podcast, The Torch, Cool Tools, Listen to Lucy, and Pardon the Interruption would be examples of current favorites.

NB: It’s pretty rare for me to listen to a podcast unless something really catches my eye — it’s a very time consuming format and I don’t often have time to sit back and listen.  I tore through NPR’s Invisibilia during some long drives in the past year, and their How I Built This promises to be a good one too.  I don’t have my own podcast, but have been interviewed on a number of them (note: they’re usually a bit of a trainwreck — I tend to be an interviewer’s worst nightmare).

Are there any podcasts you would recommend to other legal professionals?

NK: I  recommend the ones just mentioned, but would also suggest folks take a listen to Bloomberg’s Law Podcast and the ABA Journal’s Modern Law Library.  These podcasts top the more popular legal podcasts lists, but there are many, many others to explore.

SE: The Legal Talk Network has a good smorgasbord of podcasts. If you were only going to listen to one though, Kennedy Mighell would be the one I would suggest.

AS: Almost all of the shows on the Legal Talk Network are great and they have enough different shows that there’s bound to be a few on topics you like.

TM: I will admit I’m biased, but the podcasts on the Legal Talk Network provide terrific content for lawyers and other legal professionals. Right now LTN features over 20 podcasts on a number of legal topics, including technology, legal news, practice management, paralegal issues, in-house counsel, law students, marketing, and much more.

SL: As with anything delivered by digital media, I believe the popularity of podcasts is ever expanding.  When Serial hit the airwaves in 2014, it ranked number 1 on iTunes for several weeks and brought a lot of attention to podcasts from first time listeners.  Ironically the material is part of a legal documentary.  I think it takes time to adapt to digesting information solely audibly, and as potential listeners get more exposure, the relevance of podcasts will continue to increase.

DK: What I recommend most is searching for podcasts in topics that interest you in iTunes or your podcast app – I current use Overcast. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find a podcast on a topic that interests you. I’m biased, of course, but lawyers will find many useful podcasts on the Legal Talk Network. The Lawyerist is another good interview podcast for lawyers. I’d also highly recommend listening to podcasts that cover the industries or areas that your clients are in.

NB: The shows on Legal Talk Network are of a uniformly high quality, with very knowledgeable hosts and highly relevant topics, and Lawyerist’s podcast is notable for a line of great guests and Sam Glover’s soothing voice.

What topic or topics would you like to hear a podcast about?

NK: I would like to listen to more podcasts geared specifically to lawyer work/life balance concerns.  Of course these exist, but having series in this vein serves a vital role in assisting practitioners, and even law students and other legal professionals, with the high level of stress and stressful situations which arise in and around the practice of law. 1,131,386 hits are found when searching for “practice of law” episodes on the podcast directory, www.podcastdirectory.com.  So, again there’s likely a lot of material already recorded – but if it isn’t today, just keep listening!

SE: I really wish there was a good tech podcast. Most are either too technical and complicated or they are done by people who like to talk to each other and tend to be too inane and banal for my taste. Leo LaPorte’s podcast comes closest to what I would like to see more of but its too long and gets lost in answering call ins etc.

AS: There are so many great shows and so many new ones, that I’d be surprised if there are important topic areas not being covered by someone somewhere.

TM: I’d like to have more podcasts about eDiscovery, as well as more podcasts on substantive legal topics. Law firms are just starting to record podcasts, but many of them lack the production values of those with more professional podcasting operations. I’d also love it if the Law Practice Division decided to offer a podcast on all the great content we offer to our members – maybe an LTRC podcast?

SL: My favorite podcasts are ones that take a new approach to an interesting topic.  There is always more to learn in my areas of interest, like law practice management, but in a podcast I want more than a step-by-step, I want the presenter to connect the dots by personalizing the information and sharing a story.  To me that is what makes the medium effective.  I enjoy hearing success stories, excitement surrounding hot new products, well presented basics, and if you can make accounting sound sexy than please send me a link.

DK: There’s so much out there now that I don’t see any big gaps. I might like to find even more podcasts of seminar presentations. I like podcasts about TV series I’m watching, interviews with authors about their new books, and “explainers” about new tech and other developments. I’m actually looking for ways to slim down the number of podcasts I subscribe to, but I like any podcast that treats a subject that interests me with passion, enthusiasm, depth of knowledge and commitment to helping the audience learn.

NB: My interest right now really lies in good product design for legal technology — I’d love to see a podcast focused on design, user experience, user adoption, design thinking, etc. in the legal industry, but I think the 12 people or so who would find this deeply interesting would not be enough to sustain it.

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