EP01: The Genetic Code of Podcasting: a new way of thinking about discoverability

This is episode 1 of the Open Peer Review Podcast. It is intended to be a demonstration of how a podcast could be used by scholars to discuss and get peer reviews on their research before it is ‘published’ in the traditional sense (i.e. in a peer-reviewed academic journal).

The Genetic Code of Podcasting - with a photo of a man wearing headphones

In this episode, researcher Lori Beckstead explains her work which attempts to identify important characteristics of podcasts, beyond a simple genre-based classification, that could be used to help determine listener preferences and improve recommendation engines.

Professor Beckstead invited Dr. Dario Llinares to act as peer reviewer in this episode. His credentials as an expert in podcasting make him an ideal reviewer in this context.

The episode is guided by host Taylor MacLean. As a program lead at Centre for Communicating Knowledge at Ryerson University — a unit dedicated to research dissemination and knowledge mobilization — she is well positioned to play this role in this demonstration podcast.

Lori Beckstead · Open Peer Review Podcast: The Genetic Code of Podcasting

Note: Would you like to give feedback on or ask a question about this research? Be part of the Open Peer Review! Please scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of the page to participate.

Detailed show notesOpen in new tab icon [coming soon], including citations for works mentioned as well as additional information related to this research are available.

Suggested Citation for this podcast (MLA, 8th Edition)
Beckstead, Lori. “The Genetic Code of Podcasting: a new way of thinking about discoverability.” Open Peer Review Podcast, SoundCloud, 19 July 2020, https://soundcloud.com/loribeckstead/oprpodcast001.

The Genetic Code of Podcasting: a demonstration of how a podcast can be used as part of the peer review process #podcasting

Abstract for proposed paper based on this research:

Discoverability is thought to be one of podcasting’s “key problems” (Berry 20). While recommendation engines play an important role in a podcast listener’s experience of the medium by directing them to new podcasts they may enjoy, recommendations are still “far from optimal in most podcast catalogues” (Heeremans 73). Many algorithm systems gather data from podcasts’ RSS feeds, and rely primarily on genre, keywords and descriptions. By analyzing podcasts from a more granular perspective, this paper outlines an approach to thinking about discoverability in terms of podcasts’ underlying characteristics, rather than simply by their genres, keywords, and descriptions. Participants were asked to rate various popular podcasts based on a set of characteristics that we determined, through a review of existing literature, to be particular to podcasts. These characteristics — a sort of ‘genetic code’ of podcasting — include storytelling, informativeness, authenticity, emotion, humour, celebrity, sound design, production quality, niche, and timeliness. These characteristics may be important determinants in listeners’ preferences. Results of the study show that podcasts of similar genres were rated comparably on these characteristics. More importantly, we found that podcasts that do not share common keywords or are not of the same genre, nevertheless share similar ratings in one or more of these underlying characteristics. This paper proposes that use of this rating system could a) form the basis of a new set of criteria for recommendation engines which may augment their usefulness; and b) help listeners to understand what the underlying qualities of their podcasts they appreciate are, enabling them to discover a wider range of podcasts they will also enjoy.

Works cited:

Berry, Richard. “‘Just Because You Play Guitar and Are from Nashville Doesn’t Mean You Are a Country Singer’: The Emergence of Medium Identities in Podcasting.” Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media, edited by Dario Llinares, et al., Palgrave Macmillan US, 2018.

Heeremans, Lieven. “Podcast Networks: Syndicating Production Culture.” Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media, edited by Dario Llinares, et al., Palgrave Macmillan US, 2018.

Participant Bios 

Lori Beckstead (researcher) is a professor of audio & digital media in the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University in Toronto. She’s the principal investigator of the study we are discussing today: The Genetic Code of Podcasting: A New Approach to Thinking About Discoverability.

Dario Llinares (peer reviewer) is Principal Lecturer in Contemporary Screen Media at the University of Brighton. He has published work on a range of topics including cinema and podcasting, and podcasting as academic practice. He is the co-editor of the book Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media, and the co-founder and co-host of the Cinematologists podcast, and the New Aural Cultures podcast. View Dr. Llinares’ profile here.

Taylor MacLean (host) is a multi-disciplinary designer and communications strategist, and the Program Lead at the Centre for Communicating Knowledge at Ryerson University. She completed her BA at the University of Toronto, specializing in Indigenous Studies.

Anna Ashitey (research assistant) is currently in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Media Production in the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. As a research assistant, Anna has worked alongside Lori Beckstead on research projects pertaining to Podcasting and Women in Radio. Anna hopes to further her academic career by completing her masters in research on podcasting as an education tool for children with learning accommodations.


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