Podcasts Become A National Pastime

This time last year, scarcely anyone had heard the word “podcasting.” Now, it’s almost a mainstream hobby. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds more than 22 million adults own iPods or MP3 players, “and 29 percent of them have downloaded podcasts from the Web so that they could listen to audio files at a time of their choosing.” Among those age 18-28 who own such gizmos, nearly half have downloaded podcasts. So far, ownership of these devices skews male: 13 percent of men have one, vs. 9 percent of women. The study finds no gender gap, though, in the proclivity of male and female owners for downloading podcasts. The chart below gives a breakdown of the ownership data by age group. While the young are, predictably, more likely than their elders to own iPods and MP3 players, the degree of penetration among the grownups is impressive at this stage of the technology’s lifecycle. The poll finds a reversal in the usual pattern of the “digital divide”: “Some 16 percent of African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos own iPods/MP3 players, compared to 9 percent of non-Latino whites.” While the study focused on ownership among adults, it also noted that the presence of children in a household tends to be a marker for iPod/MP3 ownership: 15 percent of parents with kids under age 18 in their homes have iPods/ MP3 players, compared with 8 percent of adults without kids around.