During Podcamp Toronto one of the sessions I attended was a round table on whether podcasting would kill radio (You can check out the Podcamp Toronto wiki for archived video of the session). One of the points I tried to make and I will reiterate here is that there tends to be too much emphasis on the mode of distribution, the way people recieve the content and less emphasis on the quality of the content.
The reason that radio is having such a hard time these days and why podcasting poses such a threat is that the content on commercial radio is so poor. The same songs, the same inane banter and most of all the volume of ads are turning people off in droves. Some will point to satellite radio as a beacon of hope but while satellite radio has the content, it lacks the context. Podcasting is becoming more and more popular because it is created by people passionate about their content and who are eager to put it in some sort of context for the listener. People will always need and appreciate a good filter, especially with respect to music. If my podcast (or blog for that matter) recommends a certain band or record you will probably be interested in checking it out if you value and trust in my opinion. I am putting that band or record in context for you to accept or reject as you so choose. You certainly cannot deny the passion that I have for rock and roll (because I write and broadcast the stuff for love not money) and so at the very least you know I’m not using the music as a front to hawk a stereo store or car manufacturer.
In podcasting, quality content is king and putting that content into context is the whole purpose of the programming. While the whole aspect of advertising and monetization is coming, the most popular podcasts will always be about the love, not the money. Radio was once like that and perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way in time but until then, podcasting will not kill radio but it is going to become a bigger and bigger digital thorn in its side. And if you love the art of radio as much as I do, that can only be a good thing.