‘Podcasting’ packages radio in timeless formatOne day, Park Jun-ho just got tired of his blog. The chemical engineering major at Yonsei University had been writing and posting photos on his web log for some time, but he wanted to do something different.
That was when he decided to be the DJ for his own radio program. Mr. Park converted music and his own comments into an MP3 file format and uploaded the files onto his Web site. On one day, he would introduce the music and life of a certain Korean musician; the next, he would be doing a feature program on opera arias. With 1.5 million won ($1,460) of his own money, he bought several pieces of sound-related equipment, including an SM-58 microphone and Behringer BCA-2000 mixer.
The response he got from listeners was phenomenal. Internet users came to his blog to download MP3 files; some of them uploaded those files to their own Web sites, which were in turn, linked to other Web sites.
People began sending him personal stories for him to read on his Internet “radio” program and many visited his blog to post music requests. In just four months, Mr. Park had about 200 steady fans.
Mr. Park’s case is a good example of the audio-orientation of Korean blogs these days. Up until now, blogs were mainly composed of text or photos, but now blogs are evolving to include multimedia, beginning with audio. In the United States and Europe, this form of media is called “Podcasting” a hybrid term combining Apple Computer’s MP3 player “iPod” and “broadcasting.”
Podcasting is relatively easy. You record your voice as an MP3 file and then upload it to the Internet on a server that can accommodate audio streaming or downloading.
But audio files take up a lot of space. An MP3 file of a song is only three to four megabytes, but 10 minutes of chatter could amount up to 10 megabytes. In the case of text files, however, a hundred pages of text doesn’t even add up to 1 megabyte. Although many Web portal operators offer free blogs, they will usually have a space limit for uploaded files.
Kim Ho-geun, 33, is a self-proclaimed missionary of podcasting in Korea and the operator of his own podcast, www.podcast.co.kr, a web portal where people can create their own broadcasting programs. Mr. Kim says that there are about 50 people who do podcasts, and thousands more listen to them.
“Podcasting is also good in that it can boost development of diverse, unique programs,” Mr. Kim said. “Music is still the main content, but some people introduce and read books, or have commentaries for sports programs like baseball or basketball.
Podcasting is also slightly different from existing Internet radio services, in which there was little interaction between the creater and the listener. This is because many Internet radio programs are live, whereas podcasting programs don't require you to sit and listen to the program at a certain time.
Due to the rising popularity of podcasting, domestic MP3 player makers such as Samsung Electronics are planning to use it to promote their products. “MP3 players these days can support large files, so podcasting is yet another thing you can do with your MP3 player,” said Lee Dong-su, an official at Bluetech, a MP3 player company.
While podcasting enables normal people to publish their own audio content, there are sensitive issues regarding intellectual property rights and unlawful usage.
“People who use music for broadcasting purposes should pay, just like broadcasting companies do,” said Choi Myung-ki, a copyright official at the Culture Ministry.
Podcasters such as Park Jun-ho, however, defend themselves by saying their work is non-profit. “It’s not like I’m podcasting for money, and I use music from CDs that I've bought myself so it shouldn’t be such a big problem,” he said.
by Park Sung-woo, Wohn Dong-hee