By David Willard
Time changes everything. We know this. It is a fact of life. This is especially true in technology. The computers of the ‘90s are a far cry from our smartphones, tablets, and laptops of today. How we get our entertainment has also gone through a transformation. The internet has become the first source for news and entertainment. Whether it’s on our phones, computers, or even through smart televisions, the internet, good or bad, is what we turn to when we want to be informed or entertained. This fact has led to a relatively new form of audible entertainment called podcasts. Defined as “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer,” podcasts have become a hugely popular form of entertainment and news on the internet…and of course, the topic for this new column.
This month’s feature is the Triad Podcast Network. Triad Podcast Networks is a single podcast combining a variety of businesses, lifestyles, cultures, information and entertainment unique to the North Carolina Triad. In essence, it is a single podcast with a bevy of providers of content. Adam Witten is the Executive producer for the podcast and has taken to task the job of bringing solid local podcast content to the Triad.
“About three years ago, I began learning about podcasts as a platform and it quickly changed my audio consumption habits,” says Witten. “I became an avid listener and started believing in the value of the podcast as a communication tool tailored to audience lifestyle in this time period. At the same time, I had been working in audio broadcast production for about 15 years and was looking for ways to expand my skillset. The goal was to provide a service for local people and businesses to have a podcast of their own with consulting, recording, production and publishing support. The initial sales pitch was a challenge. Developing and building an audience for several unique podcasts was too much time and money for me and the content providers (businesses). That’s when the model evolved into the network concept.”
“The idea is that a listener can subscribe to one feed, the Triad Podcast Network, and have access to a variety of content from local voices. For example, you can find information and advice from local business owners and experts on fitness, craft beer, local restaurants, financial planning, local arts and culture and more,” he explains.
“The long-term goal is that it will bring something for everyone that is interested in learning more about our community. You may not be interested in fitness tips, but perhaps you have a high school son or daughter and want to listen to an episode with our Winston-Salem based college admission coach. It’s all available in one feed. It currently provides that for the audience, just not yet with the range I would like,” he continues.
The Triad Podcast Network is obviously a labor of love for Witten, but it still has not been without some personal high points. “One of our content providers is the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership and an early episode featured Jeff Smith – Smitty himself! I did not participate in the conversation but was able to sit in and record the episode. I felt like I was meeting a local celebrity and it was a thrill to hear his story and passion for Winston-Salem. Along with meeting community leaders, local chefs and experts, I’ve been blown away by how much I’ve learned. I think my favorite episode so far has been the downtown partnership’s interview with Gayle Anderson from the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. It turned into an oral history of downtown and I’ve listened to it multiple times because I learn something new every time I hit play,” concludes Witten.
The biggest draw of the internet is that it connects to the world. Ironically, it is this truth that leads to its biggest fault…it disconnects us from the community right outside our front door. Triad Podcast Network uses the internet to bring us back. It helps show us our neighbors or even our friends, in ways maybe we didn’t see. It may even push us off the internet to go out and support those we hear on the broadcast. In that aspect, podcasts like Triad Podcast Network are working to make local connections stronger, and isn’t that worth a few minutes of entertaining listening?