By Steve Friess
Self-proclaimed tech geek Brian Reid got an MP3 player for Christmas
and decided after fiddling with it for a while to start a little
podcast called Sex Talk that focused on one of his passions: gender
The suburban Washington, D.C., stay-at-home dad did a few broadcasts,
touching on such sonorous topics as the Roman Catholic Church's stance
on female priests, and then gave up back in April when his audience
failed to grow beyond a few subscribers.
So imagine his surprise when, during the first week of July, Reid got
an e-mail from an Australian reader of his blog congratulating him for
having the 53rd-most-popular podcast on iTunes.
And so it went in the first fortnight after Apple Computer issued the
software that turned podcasts mainstream. The upgrade to iTunes 4.9 on
June 29 gave millions of iPod owners and iTunes customers a simple way
to search for and subscribe to podcasts without any other software.
Apple counted more than 1 million podcast subscriptions through iTunes
in the first two days alone, according to a company press release.
Still, the switch came suddenly and without warning, turning a long
list of mom-and-pop online audiocasters into overnight sensations,
crashing servers across the nation and minting new internet stars in a
way not seen since the early days of blogging.
And, of course, it left folks like Reid scratching their heads. Reid
has no idea how his defunct podcast ended up listed in the iTunes
directory -- and with an "explicit" label no less. He assumes that
label and the Sex Talk name explain how he scaled the charts alongside
such brand-name talkers as Air America Radio's Al Franken, Nightline's
Ted Koppel and Z100 radio's Elvis Duran.