Media Players Tune in to Podcast's Potential

By Chris Marlowe

The exponential growth of podcasting is due to both professional and grassroots program creators. Most recently, Showtime, Radio Disney, Fox Television and Simon & Schuster have joined the household names who have embraced this new way of communicating with their audiences.

Showtime Networks is offering weekly podcasts that include interviews with series producers and stars. Interview subjects available at press time include "Weeds" stars Elizabeth Perkins, Tonye Patano, Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon and "Barbershop: The Series" stars Omar Gooding, Anna Brown, Leslie Elliard and Barry Shabaka Henley.

Showtime Networks executive vp Mark Greenberg said additional interviews with producers and actors from those shows are on their way. Podcasts also are being readied for the anthology series "Masters of Horror," the third-season return of "The L Word" and the upcoming dramas "Sleeper Cell" and "Brotherhood."

"Our objective is to get a new audience to sample our programing, and there's no better way to do that than to offer completely free, exclusive audio content from our shows," Greenberg said. "Given the widespread acceptance of portable audio devices, offering audio content for our shows is another way for those consumers to find our TV programing."


Aiming more at the young or young at heart, Radio Disney has launched Radio Disney Now, a weekly program exclusively available via podcast.

The content will include several regular features, including "Insider," spotlight on the latest performing artists; and ":60 With," a lighthearted look at the personalities behind the music.

This is the latest medium Radio Disney has embraced. The station already is available to 97% of U.S. residents through a multiplatform distribution strategy that includes terrestrial and satellite radio, digital cable and satellite television, and the Internet.

Fox Television supports many of its series with podcasts that recap the plot of each program after it airs. Fans can use them to catch up on "The Simpsons," "Arrested Development," "Bones," "Family Guy," "House," "Prison Break," "Malcolm in the Middle" and others. These are spoken-word summaries that do not include audio from the shows or other content.

Publishing house Simon & Schuster also is tapping in to Hollywood interests as part of its SimonSays Podcast program. These interviews and special features are created by professional audiobook producers. In addition to luminaries of the publishing world, the podcasts include such movie-crossover content as excerpts from Stephen King's "The Shining," read by Campbell Scott; Steve Martin's "Shopgirl," read by the author; and Jennifer Weiner discussing her novel "In Her Shoes."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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