Cast Away

Heard of podcasting? … A couple months ago, I hadn’t either -- until some guy I had interviewed for a feature about blogging ripped me on his blog for not asking him any questions about RSS feeds and podcasting (uh, buddy, I wasn’t writing a story about podcasting; I was writing about blogging. Had I been writing a story about podcasting, I would have asked you about podcasting. …so of course when do begin a story on podcasting and follow-up with him for an interview he gives me the cold shoulder …).

Apparently, blogging was so last year and now it's podcasting that’s the latest Internet craze (with video blogging right behind). So in writing this latest feature I found out about a local guy who has the only podcast in the region, thousands of subscribers and an iTunes rating that peaked at No. 56. For about two weeks, I immersed myself in everything podcast, listening to about a dozen of them for several hours straight …

It's been dubbed “TiVo for Radio,” and “Wayne's World for Radio.” Others call it audio blogging or blogcasting. …it’s only called podcasting because some yahoo derived the word from using his iPod to download and play the audio files, which are essentially pirated Internet broadcasts. Thus the common misconception is you need an iPod to listen to podcasts when all you really need is a computer with an Internet connection and a speaker, or any other MP3 player to store and listen to the files.

Podcasting is the latest Internet revolution that’s allowing the guy next door to record his random thoughts and views from his basement -- with as little as some cheap software, a microphone and a home computer -- and upload the audio file to the Internet for listeners across the world.

The first podcast was born about a year ago when ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry, with the help of software developer Dave Winer, created his “Daily Source Code.” Then, as more wannabe DJs figured out how to podcast, the new medium's popularity exploded faster than you can say web blog.

Now, it's estimated more than 7,000 podcasts are airing worldwide, discussing everything from religion, filmmaking and politics to, quite literally, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Some of them, in a Seinfeld-like style, talk about really nothing at all, complete with dead air and “ums.”

According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project report released in April, more than 6 million adults in the U.S. have downloaded a podcast. And Apple has said users subscribed to more than 1 million podcasts within the first 48 hours of the iTunes 4.9 release in June, which made the downloads more easily available.

So remember me saying that while researching and writing this story I listened to podcasts for hours straight? Yeah. Most of those podcasts were episodes of the infamous ‘Dawn & Drew Show.’ I downloaded every episode they’ve ever produces and listened to them back to back to back to back …

Consistently, one of the most popular pod casts, the humorous, but vulgar and raunchy show debuted last September within the walls of the married couple’s Wayne, Wis., farmhouse. It features Dawn Miceli, 28, and Drew Domkus, 33, and sometimes their yapping dogs behind them, conversing about their daily lives and everything in between from their families, Drew’s tech guy nerdiness and Dawn's obsession with Hello Kitty to, well, sex.

And yes, they truly were as cool and fun -- and even more sweet -- during a phone interview with me as they are on their podcast.

“The first one Drew did by himself and Drew kept talking; he talks about nerdy stuff all the time,” Miceli told me. “When I heard the show and realized ‘oh this is like an audio blog. I can get into this.’ I jumped on the bandwagon and took over.”

Now “The Dawn and Drew Show” podcast, which averages about 30 minutes and airs three or four times a week, has become so internationally popular, the couple can’t think of a country or continent they haven't received fan mail from. Their names also have appeared in the pages of The New York Times, Forbes Magazine, USA Today and so many other periodicals they’ve lost count.

Prior to the launch of the new iTunes, Dawn and Drew had racked up more than 100,000 subscribers. The couple said they have not received updated numbers since then, but can speculate the new iTunes has caused their subscription base to double.

“When we started it was just kind of a fun way to have a radio show for our family and friends,” Miceli said. “We were so excited when we had 60 listeners. I don't think any of us could have foreseen the success.”

For the whole story go here or here or the Madison Capital Times.

UPDATE, Aug. 23: My friend Tom apparently hates the word podcast …

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