I recently spoke to someone from NPR who mentioned that NPR is the second largest producer of Podcasts, trailing the infamous BBC. Sure enough, a visit to NPR's site, currently shows 291 podcasts listed ! These include arts, religion, music, politics, fun and a plethora of other topics.
It seems there goal is to create the largest online network of original content. According to this column, demand was pent up from the get go, and NPR was able to get an impressive foothold in a matter of two months:
"Talk about pent-up demand. According to Maria Thomas, vice president and general manager of NPR Online, it took only six days after launch for NPR's "Story of the Day" podcast to reach the coveted No. 1 spot on iTunes for most downloaded podcast. On Nov. 21, NPR's podcasts held down 11 spots on the iTunes Top 100, more than any other media outlet."
Traditional radio stations have been slow to adopt the podcast model, as it threatens their current business model of advertising. Podcast advertising surely cannot produce a mere fraction of what radio stations are actively charging for commercials, but I think that's poised to change. Look at what Federated Media Publishing has done for blogs, having just received Series A funding and generating targeted advertising for top bloggers.
Podcasting isn't as mainstream as blogging however, and like all changes, this will take time and a gutsy entrepreneur to get the ball rolling on a solid advertising network. In the meantime, public radio outlets such as NPR and the BBC can take advantage of that fact, and continue building a world of content.