Wednesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 25, 2023
Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
With the support of the International Communication Association (ICA) Popular Media & Culture Division and Media Industry Studies Interest Group.
Deadline for abstracts: Friday, December 2, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. GMT
Proposal submission form: https://bit.ly/podcastprecon23
This, the first ever podcast studies ICA preconference, invites scholars to present, discuss and listen to a range of works focusing on podcasting as a cultural, aesthetic, and institutional communicative form. We aim to promote a broad, cross-field understanding of podcasting, one that is shaped by multiple forces and perspectives that go beyond the early notion of the medium as simply an extension of radio, and open the horizon to fruitful exchanges between media history research, sound studies, creative industries, journalism, platform studies, and more.
Podcasting is a relatively young medium: It has been 20 years since the first audio file was distributed online via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) in 2003. Thanks to software developer Dave Winer’s innovation of media enclosures within RSS feeds, podcasting became an audio distribution form that greatly expanded the utility and popular excitement around Apple’s iPod in the first decade of the 21st century. While podcasting was initially leveraged by broadcast radio networks such as NPR and the BBC to asynchronously retransmit their content online, the key to the medium’s early identity and development was the explosion of amateur content production, thereby opening up the medium to new voices and perspectives, unhindered by the presence of institutional gatekeepers.
The cultural significance of this medium has since been resonating through various corridors of communication, culture, and everyday life, and is evident in both the exponentially growing popularity of, and the scholarly attention given to, podcasting. As an audio medium, podcasting's familiar cultural anchor is radio. However, from its very inception podcasting has presented a combination of traits that straddle a range of old and new media practices: serialization and syndication (Durrani, Gotkin & Laughlin, 2015; Haugtvedt, 2017), portability and customization (Berry, 2006; Menduni, 2007; Spinelli and Dann, 2019), autonomous scheduling and binge-consumption (Stitcher, 2016), the simultaneous democratization and egalitarianism of cultural production alongside the centralization and industrialization of the field (Sullivan, 2019).
Based on an open architecture of RSS that cultivates a culture of entrepreneurism and aspirational labor (Sullivan, 2018), podcasts allow for new modes and workflows of production (Rime, Francombe & Collins 2022), as well as new styles of delivery and sound aesthetics (Copeland, 2018; Florini, 2015; McHugh, 2016; Salvati, 2015). These coincide with new modes of audience engagement (e.g. Perks & Turner 2018), digital activism (Fox & Ebada, 2022) and para-social relationships (Schlütz, D., & Hedder, 2021; Sharon & John, 2019), that thrive in an era of attention scarcity that privilege sight over hearing (Sterne, 2003), making podcasting a unique site of inquiry in the current social media landscape.
This preconference seeks to bring together researchers and academic practitioners to explore questions such as: How can podcasts and podcasting be theorized? How can the study of podcasting enrich our knowledge of core issues of communication, both conceptually and methodologically? What types of content define the podcasting medium today and what does that signify? How can podcasts mediate complex topics and de-marginalize authentic, diverse voices? How do podcasts change our understanding of notions such as storytelling and narratives? What is the social economy of podcasting? How are major platform providers such as Spotify, SiriusXM, and iHeartMedia shifting the nature of podcast production, distribution, and consumption? What are the relationships between the practice of podcasting and the study of it?
We invite works that may address the wide range of subject areas relevant to the study of podcasts, including but not limited to:
The state and future of podcast studies: Mapping the history of the field, theorizing what a podcast is, delineating the borders of podcast studies in relation to other media fields.
The political economy of podcasting: Industry power and control; processes of consolidation, professionalization and platformization of podcasting; monetization and datafication of podcast listening; commercial aspects and advertising in podcasts; podcasting in the age of streaming platforms.
Podcasting as a creative industry: The creative labor of podcasting; audience and production studies about podcast shows and communities.
Non-human podcasts: Generative podcasts, robot hosts, and automated transcripts
Podcasts diversities: The inclusive (and exclusive) nature of podcasts; diverse hosts and audiences; podcasting in the Global South; how podcasts amplify diverse perspectives; making podcasts more accessible; and more.
Podcasts as audio archives: Who is in charge of institutional and informal podcast archives? Who are the gatekeepers of podcasts? How do we preserve human speech and sound, and according to which categories?
Podcast studies methods: Analysis of podcast networks; models for studying podcast delivery modes; theorizing para-social relations between host and listener applying sound studies tools to research podcasts.
Podcasts and journalism: Podcasts and the public sphere; long-form audio news
Podcasts forms and new aural cultures: The rise of new audio genres, narrative and storytelling modes.
Podcasts as academic avenues: Podcasting as a form of intellectual and scholarly engagement; peer review of and through podcasts.
Podcasts as acoustic spaces
Given the auditory and often conversational nature of podcasting, this preconference welcomes several types of contributions:
Paper presentations (15 minute presentations)
Audio work presentations (15 minute presentations)
The audio work could be your own (completed or work-in-progress), or you might present the work of others (e.g. clips or sections from a published podcast) for listening and discussion.
Theme-centered podcast episode recording
Recording studios will be available to conduct podcast recordings related to podcast studies. Take advantage of this gathering of experts to get them into the studio! Studios can accommodate up to 6 participants including host(s) and include all necessary equipment. Recorded podcast episodes may be included in a special series of The Podcast Studies Podcast and/or you can release the recording as part of your own podcast if you have one. Technical support staff will be on hand to give you a quick overview of how to run the studio and to help if you run into problems.
Leading a roundtable discussion (of ~20 minutes)
In these roundtable sessions, attendees will participate in three 20-minute roundtable discussions. Attendees may choose to move from one table to another at the end of each 20 minute stretch, or may choose to stay at a particular table to continue to engage with the topic at hand. As a roundtable discussion leader, you would determine the specific theme/topic, summarize the context of the topic, and encourage discussion amongst participants at your table.
Workshops (of up to 90 minutes)
Other: something you want to propose that isn't captured in the categories above
For all submission types, the proposal format is a 500-word abstract (not including bibliography) submitted by Friday, December 2, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. GMT, through the preconference proposal form: https://bit.ly/podcastprecon23
Abstracts should include the main idea/argument, a short literature review and/or theoretical perspectives, and an explanation of the work’s contribution. Aiming to broaden the scholarly imagination through the concept and practice of podcasting, we welcome different delivery modes and approaches, including discussions of literature, historical perspectives, empirical works, critical listening, and other creative forms of academic contributions that can fit with one of the submission types.
Decisions on acceptance will be made by Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
In general, authors of accepted abstracts are expected to attend the preconference in person. However, while we are planning to stream the event, we are exploring options for remote presentation, under certain circumstances.
100 USD / for registered participants: speakers and attendees who are faculty members
50 USD / for students, and speakers and attendees with no employment
Fee includes: participation in the conference, two snack breaks per day and lunch for both days.
The preconference is open to both ICA members and non-members. Note that you may attend this preconference even if you are not attending the main ICA conference.
Lori Beckstead, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)
Kim Fox, The American University in Cairo
Nicholas John, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Tzlil Sharon, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
John Sullivan, Muhlenberg College
If you have any questions regarding this call for participation, feel free to reach out to our committee at [email protected].
Berry, R. (2006). Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star? Profiling Podcasting as Radio. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 12(2), 143–162. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856506066522
Bull, M. (2015). Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. Routledge.
Copeland, S. (2018). A feminist materialisation of amplified voice: Queering identity and affect in the heart. In D. Llinares, N. Fox, & R. Berry (Eds.), Podcasting (pp. 209–225). Springer.
Durrani, M., Gotkin, K., & Laughlin, C. (2015). Serial, seriality, and the possibilities for the podcast format. American Anthropologist, 117(3), 1-4.
Florini, S. (2015). The Podcast “Chitlin’ Circuit”: Black Podcasters, Alternative Media, and Audio Enclaves. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 22(2), 209–219. https://doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2015.1083373
Fox, K., & Ebada, Y. (2022). Egyptian female podcasters: Shaping feminist identities. Learning, Media and Technology, 47(1), 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2021.2020286
Haugtvedt, E. (2017). The ethics of serialized true crime: Fictionality in Serial season one. In E. McCracken (Ed.), The Serial Podcast and Storytelling in the Digital Age (pp. 13–29). Routledge.
Jenner, M. (2016). Is this TVIV? On Netflix, TVIII and binge-watching. New Media & Society, 18(2), 257–273.
McHugh, S. (2016). How podcasting is changing the audio storytelling genre. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, 14(1), 65–82. https://doi.org/10.1386/rjao.14.1.65_1
Menduni, E. (2007). Four steps in innovative radio broadcasting: From QuickTime to podcasting. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, 5(1), 9–18. https://doi.org/10.1386/rajo.5.1.9_1
Perks, L. G., & Turner, J. S. (2019). Podcasts and productivity: A qualitative uses and gratifications study. Mass Communication and Society, 22(1), 96-116. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2018.1490434
Rime, J., Francombe, J., & Collins, T. (2022, June). How Do You Pod? A Study Revealing the Archetypal Podcast Production Workflow. In ACM International Conference on Interactive Media Experiences (pp. 11-18). https://doi.org/10.1145/3505284.3529977
Schlütz, D., & Hedder, I. (2021). Aural Parasocial Relations: Host–Listener Relationships in Podcasts. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 0(0), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2020.1870467
Sharon, T., & John, N. A. (2019). Imagining an ideal podcast listener. Popular Communication, 17(4), 333–347.
Spinelli, M. & Dann, L. (2019). Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution. Bloomsbury.
Sullivan, J. L. (2018). Podcast movement: Aspirational labour and the formalisation of podcasting as a cultural industry. In D. Llinares, N. Fox, & R. Berry (Eds.), Podcasting (pp. 35–56). Springer.
Sullivan, J. L. (2019). The platforms of podcasting: Past and present. Social Media+ Society, 5(4), https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119880002