On July 6, 2016, the tiny videogame company, Niantic released Pokemon Go. The game skyrocketed to popularity, hitting the nostalgia sweet-spot for many young adults and popularizing a revolutionary new type of game. At the height of its craze, Pokemon go had more daily users than Twitter. Players began trading information on where to find the best pokemon and strategies for how to advance as quickly as possible. Two brothers took advantage of this passionate fan base by launching a podcast, Pokémon Go Radio (PGR). Using the mics on their smartphones, the brothers record segments such as “Catch of the week” and “The ‘mon that got away” as well as dish out the latest news, tips, and tricks in the pokémon world. Nar and Sal now receive tens of thousands of downloads and are still happily chatting about the latest updates to the game.
Now there are many other ways the PGR creators could have used to publish their pokémon conversations, they could have written a blog, or created a youtube channel, both well established digital media, but podcasting offered the brothers some unique advantages.
Firstly, podcasting has a fairly low barrier to entry. All phones already have a microphone built in, many of which are fairly high quality, and even high quality microphones are relatively cheap compared to the equipment needed to produce videos. Also editing audio recordings is much more forgiving than video. Audio can be cut and rearranged much more inconspicuously, and continuity errors are pretty much nonexistent. Nar and Sal did not need any specialized skills or equipment to start their podcast, they just did. As the podcast has become more popular, and the creators have gained more experience, the quality of the audio recordings and editing have improved.
But the potential popularity of their podcast presented another problem for the brothers. They loved talking about pokémon, but they had no desire to become celebrities, and since they sometimes talk about playing while at work, they didn’t really want their day jobs finding out about their little side project. So Nar and Sal are pseudonyms, while their actual identities remain anonymous to their podcast’s audience. This would be much more difficult to do over a visual medium like youTube since viewers would expect to see the hosts’ faces.
Finally the app continues to undergo frequent updates, so often older episodes become inaccurate as the game changes. The RSS news-like feed ensures that podcast listeners hear the most recent episode first, and that most people listen to their episodes the week they come out, rather than months later.
These and many other aspects of podcasting have lead to the medium having one of the widest variety of topics and formats of digital media, and one that has been the most divergent from traditional audio media.