Why is Podcasting Popular?

I’ve been thinking about media recently and, in particular, why podcasting might be so popular right now? What driving forces might be at play here?

The first reason I can think of is that it’s symbolic of a shift away from the few broadcasting to the many to the many broadcasting to the few. It is individual empowerment mixed with deep personalisation.

The listener is now in control of what they listen to, not the controller of a radio station. The listener can select from a vast array of options, based upon niche interests or even tribal values and beliefs. There may even be a link here with realness or authenticity in the sense that you are going to ‘the source’ so to speak. It’s cheap for anyone to create a podcast of very high quality, although some of the best have a lovely homemade feel.

Second, they are perhaps representative of a trend called shifting (first described, I believe, by the Australian futurist Ross Dawson). You can listen at any time, in any place on any device. Being radio, podcasts also fit nicely into our multi-tasking world, because you can listen and do something else at the same time. You can’t really do this with visually based media, because your eyes, and often your fingers and thumbs nowadays, are occupied. There might also be a link here to ‘peak screens’ (we’ve got too much visual stimulation).

Last, but by no means least, I think podcasts tap into our ancient desire to be told stories. This is one thing that is not changing and, I suspect, never will. But they might also be representative of another unchanging desire, and that is intimacy. Many postcasts are created by a single, passionate individual who also appears in the podcast as a narrator. This is hard for huge broadcasting companies with their celebrity presenters to replicate.

Richard Watson on The Future, Automation and AI

I did a talk at the University of Northampton Business School last week, but before I started I spoke to John Griff at BBC Radio Northampton. The funny thing was that while I’d been told about this well in advance I’d totally forgotten. Hence zero preparation on my part. But guess what, because I didn’t prepare anything I didn’t obsess about what I was going to say and therefore didn’t screw it up (also due to an excellent interviewer that asked some good questions and put me at ease btw).

One of my more intelligent interviews with a great ending…

BBC iPlayer….(spool on to 1 minute 15 seconds)

C’mon Aussies C’mon…

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OK, it’s Brisbane, but you have to start somewhere….BTW, bumped into Prof. Susan Greenfield today in London. She’s off to Brisbane tomorrow. Is Brisbane the center of the universe or what?

BTW, here’s a link to ABC Radio’s Future Tense about Digital Vs.Human (about 10 minutes, but worth listening to the other two people too).

Podcast link right here.

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Richard Watson Videos on YouTube etc

Apologies about the dreadful headline to this post, but I needed to put a few things in one place to help people looking for various videos, podcasts and articles, most of which are scattered all over the place.  So here they are a few links with a brief description of each. At the end of the videos I’ve added a handful of other items.  If you can’t find what you are looking for contact me via the contact me page at nowandnext.com


Lego Future City competition (2018)

The future on a single sheet of paper (2017)

The Future of Energy (Adelaide, 2017)

The Future of Ageing Well (Panel, 2017)

Talking to Adam Morgan about my 2017 roadmap of trends and technologies

Some funny AI out-takes (2020)

Clifford Chance Talk about digital culture (2016)

Royal Society of Arts ( 5 trends for the next 50 years)

Royal Society of Arts  (How the digital age is changing our thinking)

TEDx Munich (The Perils of Prediction)

TEDx Lodz  (Thinking Spaces)

Barilla Milan  (2012) (Eating in 2030)

Work Tech 2011 (The future of work)

Communities in Control Conference – Part 1

Communities in Control Conference  – Part 2

Perils of Prediction (short version for NHS)

HBAA Futures Assembly (on the downsides of digital)


ABC Radio ‘Big Ideas’ in conversation about Digital Vs. Human (2016)
Click here

ABC Radio ‘Future Tense’ on my book Digital vs. Human (2016)

ABC Future Tense (On the paperless office)

ABC Radio National  (On Work and lunch  with Geraldine Doogue)

ABC Radio National (Future Files with Philip Adams)

ABC Radio National  (On thinking spaces with Alan Saunders)


Daily Telegraph (UK) – Article about life in the Year 2050

Sun Herald (Aus) – On how digital devices are changing how we behave

Courier Mail (Aus) – Some predictions for 2011 (made January 2011)

Various ‘Fast Company’ (US) about innovation


An interview from Dec 2020. The New Abnormal

Open 4 Business (January 2021)

A weird one. Me in a cheese shop talking about climate, loneliness, humanity, AI and, of course, Trump. (July 2018).


An example of a set of scenarios for the Future of Public Libraries

That’s all folks…well it’s not, but that’s more than enough.