Herb Cloutier (Photo via Twitter)
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Herb Cloutier is known to talk.
For the better part of a decade, he’s been known as a podcaster, taking the digital airwaves as “DW” under his FanBoys, Inc. production. There no longer the need to add an extra nut graph after the word podcaster. People know what one is. After more than ten years since the phenomenon broke out on the internet, microphones are easily found at retail stores. Today, Cloutier is excited over the ABC television sitcom “Alex, Inc.” hitting primetime television. It tells the story of an established radio personality quitting his job to start a new career as a podcaster.
Cloutier has a day job that supplements the passion for his ever-evolving career as a podcaster. Last year, a partnership with other broadcasters manifested into his Earplug Podcast Network. It’s a growing concept within podcasting. It’s a go-to place for audiences to find something new, and a hub for podcasters to increase their number of listeners.
[Editor’s Note: TheSpot518 produces a podcast called “The Gravy Gig,” which is hosted on the Earplug Podcast Network.]
“I like giving that full service for someone that’s coming in,” said Cloutier, who speaks of multiple responsibilities that are associated with a successful podcast, and network. He is the radio personality and the producer. As a graphic designer, he’s the network’s marketing department. “I was joking with the guys the other day that I need a clone. It’s getting overwhelming.”
Trying to find an audience is becoming more difficult for podcasters. In February, Variety Magazine reported that there are more than half a million active podcasts on iTunes, alone. According to Edison Research and Triton Digital survey data, the percentage of podcast listeners in America has increased exponentially over the past ten years. Last year, 40 percent of Americans aged 12 or older have listened to a podcast, and 24 percent have listened to a podcast in the past month — up from just nine percent in 2008.
So, podcasting has developed into a popular outlet for ordinary people to add their voice into the world, much like blogging was in the late 90s, or vlogging was shortly there after. Those vloggers on YouTube ultimately moved to Twitch.tv. The latter has become the most frequented website on the internet, behind Google, Apple and Netflix since it launched in 2011. Though it’s more commonly known as an outlet for gamers, artists, cosplayers and musicians often appear as well. Despite this growth of video broadcasting, Cloutier said audio remains the best way to engage with an ever mobile audience.
“More than 57 million people listen to podcasts,” said Cloutier. “And, 64 percent of all podcasts are listened to on smartphones and tablets.” It’s an argument that holds merit when compared to how other industries are responding to consumer habits.
Car manufacturers have taken notice to how motorists choose their listening entertainment. After more than 30 years, automakers are not installing CD players in cars. Instead, the next option is allows for a more enhanced interface with your cell phone. As cell phone providers have offered friendlier data-usage packages over the years, consumers are more likely to listen to podcasts and music streaming services like Spotify. The Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of respondents had used their phone to listen to online radio or a streaming music service in 2012. By 2015, that figure increased to 67 percent, or two out of three people.
Creating a podcast can be as simple as recording one’s voice on a smartphone, or be as elaborate as investing in high-end equipment and spending money to purchase rights to broadcast music. Starting this week, Cloutier is opening a studio in Glens Falls to help would-be podcasters level-up on their broadcasts with the use of professional-grade equipment.
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Michael Hallisey is Managing Editor of Spotlight Newspapers.