By Emily Devereux
For a medium that has only been around a decade, podcasts have taken ahold of many of our ears. According to The Infinite Dial® 2019 Canada report, 36% of Canadian adults have listened to a podcast in the past month.
Some big names are playing in the podcast pool, like NPR and the BBC, but just about anyone can make a podcast.
“[Podcasts are] more accessible than ever before, to both creators and listeners,” said Karen Unland, creator of the Alberta Podcast Network.
Unland is a co-founder of Taproot Edmonton, a member-supported local journalism entity. Her obsession with local media also brought her to begin the Alberta Podcast Network. The network is precisely what it sounds like: a collection of Alberta-made podcasts. They promote member podcasts and connects them with each other and sponsors.
The network launched in 2017 with ten podcasts backed by their founding sponsor ATB, and has grown to quadruple the size over the past two years.
The APN groups their member podcasts into nine categories, ranging from “business & marketing” to “stories & storytelling,” broad sampling of the kinds of podcasts that are produced in the province.
“We don’t represent every Albertan podcast, there’s lots of very good ones,” said Unland.
Podcasts can fill a lot of different roles from entertainment to education and playing a part in filling the gaps left by struggling traditional media.
“They’re not in any way set up to be a full replacement,” said Unland. “But there’s a couple of different ways in which podcasts can fill the void, or even improve upon what we used to have. We’re able to listen to more investigative journalism than ever before, because the medium lends itself to a deep dive.”
If you are looking to start your podcast, instructions and advice for creating one can be found on the APN website. If you are not ready to invest in your recording equipment, there are some affordable options around the city. The Edmonton Public Library has sound booths at two locations that can be booked for free, and NAIT students can access two recording studios on campus in the McNally library.
For those looking for a bit more guidance, Unland occasionally runs workshops on how to start a podcast.
If you want to get involved in the local podcast community, Unland recommends signing up for the APN newsletter, which includes information about the network’s shows, quarterly podcast meetups as well as news about podcasting at large and what live shows are coming to town. Unland says that coming to events and shows is an excellent way to connect with other podcast enthusiasts.
“I hope that we can use the tiny bit of power that we have by being together as the network to encourage people to reserve a little bit of ear share for what is going on where they live,” said Unland.
You can learn about all of the podcasts on the network and sign up for the APN newsletter at albertapodcastnetwork.com.