Why Podcasting Never Killed the Radio Star in China

Aug 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, General, Podcast Distribution

At the Digital Watch blog, Steven Lin has posted an interesting article looking at Why Podcasting Never Killed the Radio Star in China:

Three years ago, an article from Time magazine changed my life. “Will Podcasting Kill the Radio Star?”The idea of a automatically-downloaded multi-media feed changing the new media landscape blew my mind. In the evening of December 2004, I was only a college student.

As a teenager who speaks with strong Southern Chinese accent, I could have never imagined that some day tens of thousands of people would listen to audio programs produced me.

Six months later, Antiwave (??) was launched by my friend Randy Jiang and me. Randy had been a DJ for Tianjin Radio Station for eight years and still has countless fans in the city. Even so, he was shocked by the number of unique visitors from all over the world to this Chinese podcast in the Day 1 – more than 10,000.

In the same year, Antiwave won the Global Best Podcast award from Deutsche Welle. And the logo with a reversed “?” (anti-) character has been printed on lots of newspapers, magazines, and TV networks – from Phoenix TV, CCTV to BBC and CNN. Antiwave has been a media babe for years and made a successful business cooperation with Cisco for its global “Human Network” campaign.

But you know what, even being called as a “podcast pioneer”, I have to admit, podcasting has never successfully killed a radio star in China. Ladies and gentlemen, in fact, it’s somewhere far from the goal.

The inconvenient truth: Antiwave is still the only Chinese podcast people can remember even three years after its debut.

Lin goes on to offer four reasons why he thinks podcasting hasn’t taken off in China as he expected:

  1. Blame Apple. The iPod maker has done nothing for podcasting in China.
  2. Blame Sina. The Chinese portal website has distorted the idea of what podcasting is.
  3. Blame the podcasters. Users don’t have enough attractive programs.
  4. One more thing: the Chinese consumers. You can never find a dominant portable player in China. Though more and more beautiful white earphones designed in California are pretty impressive in subway, 10 times more people using some 10 USD MP3 players will persuade you that China is still a developing country.

Lin’s frustration with the state of podcasting in China isn’t universally shared, and reads a bit like a typical reaction to the overhyped expectations of some early podcasters. Just a month ago, we mentioned a report in the Beijing Review that said that “blogs and podcasts have become major outlets of public opinion.”

But Lin’s article points out that there are unique challenges to podcast adoption in China. For example, as a fan of podcasts and user-generated content, I’m frustrated that we won’t be getting the unfiltered voices of world athletes from the 2008 Olympics.

In February, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued guidelines (pdf) regarding blogging and other user generated media at the 2008 Beijing Olympiad. These guidelines effectively ban athletes and other accredited people from podcasting or photoblogging.

A lot of fans of user-generated media are going to find a void, looking at the 2008 Beijing Olympiad – and this is a lost opportunity not just for the Olympics, but for podcasting and for China, too.

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2 Responses to “Why Podcasting Never Killed the Radio Star in China”

  1. You’re making the same mistake the Chinese Gummint and the IOC did.

    They might “control” the wire while the Olympics are running, but after…

    Look for a flood of blogs and podcasts about what participation was like in the 2008 Olympics…

  2. James Lewin says:

    Charles –
    Realistically – the world’s attention will have moved on after the Olympics.

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