Steve Olsher

What Is A Podcast? Letter From The Editor 092021

3 mins read

Recently, our team had an internal discussion around adding a social audio section to Podcast Magazine®. I am a proponent of the idea. Others have a differing viewpoint. 

Their contention is that Podcast Magazine should be focused on, well… podcasts, podcast culture, and the podcast industry.

I’m of the mindset that social audio is a podcast—one that is conducted with an audience in attendance, allowing for their participation if desired—and absolutely needs to be included in the current podcast discussion. 

Naturally, this begs the question: “How does one define the word ‘podcast’?” 

According to Merriam-Webster, a podcast is defined as: 

A program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.

Fair enough. However, this definition was originally created in 2004. 17 years have passed since the podcasting phenomenon was brought to life. Needless to say, the industry has evolved substantially since that original definition was coined, as have our collective consumption habits and creation abilities. 

I would argue that it’s high time we revisit this definition.

Today, I would define what constitutes a “podcast” with three simple words:

Audio. On. Demand.

The caveat, I would add, so as to avoid the debate that terrestrial radio should be included in this discussion, is that said audio is accessible via, and delivered through, the Internet. 

I would therefore offer the following 2021 definition of a podcast:

Audio on demand accessible via, and delivered through, the Internet. 

In other words, if you can turn on your preferred device—mobile phone, iPad, laptop, etc.—and access, via the Internet, the audio content you choose to consume, you are listening to a “podcast.” 

Based on this definition, the following categories should be included within the context of this discussion:  

  • Traditional podcasts (evergreen, recorded files accessible via podcast distribution platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.),
  • Social audio (real-time conversations, live ‘podcast’ interviews, and recorded files accessible via Clubhouse, Greenroom, etc.), and
  • Audio books (recorded spoken word files accessible via Audible, Scribd, etc.).

That’s my take. I’d love to hear yours. 

So… please email me at and let me know how YOU define the word “podcast.” Alternatively, join the conversation in our Facebook group:

In an effort to maintain consistency, please format your response as an answer to this fill-in-the-blank statement:


A podcast is _____________________. 


I’ll then share as many responses as I can in next month’s Letter From The Editor. 


Let the debate begin. 




September 2021

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