Surround Sound: iHeart to Launch 3D Audio Podcasts


PodMov Daily: Wednesday, February 10

Episode 369: Your Midweek Update

Surround Sound: iHeart to Launch 3D Audio Podcasts

iHeartMedia will be launching an entire slate of podcasts in 3D, or binaural, audio. “Listening to a show in 3D audio sounds like you’re in the scene and hearing things exactly as you would in real life because the microphones are often shaped like a human head or a pair of ears,” explains Ashley Carman of The Verge.

Outfits like Paragon Collective and QCODE have been producing binaural audio for years, though not on this scale. iHeart has built three specialized recording studios and employs a dozen producers trained for the task. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne expects to have 10 to 12 shows by year’s end.

According to QCODE CEO Rob Herting, the shift will benefit all of narrative audio. “It’s not to say that it’s a replacement for good storytelling, and you can’t think of it like a gimmick, but I think when used well, it can be really, really impactful.” Side note/sigh of relief: 3D audio is compatible with any pair of headphones.

Couple-Hosted Podcasts Need a Little ‘Alchemy’

“Romantic love between a [podcast’s] co-hosts isn’t nearly as predictive of a show’s quality as you might think,” observes Hershal Pandya of Many are “unlistenable — the equivalent to being the third wheel on an evening out with a couple whose inside jokes aren’t as endearing as they think they are.”

Pandya speaks with two outstanding pairs that hit the mark, including Dr. Sydnee McElroy and Justin McElroy (MBMBaM). Since 2013 on Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine, Sydnee has taken a comedically naive and distracted Justin on hundreds of educational journeys through medical history. 

“I think it’s really hard for couples — and people in general, really — to do a podcast where they just talk about something they both know about,” Sydnee says. With a playful format that keeps the listener love alive, Sawbones is poignant and refreshing after nearly eight years. Note: Requires a free Timber signup.

Heads up: Today, panelists Ayana Contreras (Vocalo Radio, WBEZ Chicago), Emily Kwong (NPR’s Short Wave) and Morgan Givens (Flyest Fables) weigh in on last month’s groundbreaking letter by Celeste Headlee. Registration is free.

That's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
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Here's what else is going on:

  • New order: ТОЛК founder Kristina Vazovsky discusses her company’s Russian-language podcasts as “gay propaganda.” To Aria Bracci of Hot Pod, the company’s growth “reads as a way to engage an audience not only new to podcasts but, perhaps, new to normalized portrayals of queerness.”
  • Open doors: Data costs for high-quality MP3 audio are excluding “a whole generation” of potential listeners, writes Podnews editor James Cridland. “What would happen if podcasters, or apps, were to offer additional lower bitrate streams?” His proposed solutions could benefit billions globally.
  • Radio star: Sound artist Marjorie Van Halteren is “basically chasing the thrilling beauty that lives in all sound.” The three-time Peabody Award winner discusses her latest radiophonic composition “Hexagon Heart,” a story of her “touch-and-go but ultimately committed love affair” with France.
  • Both sides: “It’s really pretty simple to make sure your production is diverse and inclusive,” writes Cole Burkhardt of Discover Pods. “Stop searching for candidates in majority white pools, be sure to listen to the needs of those you bring on, and be prepared to defend them when they need it.”

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