From what began as a fringe medium a few years ago, podcasts are now completely mainstream. Shows like Serial, My Favorite Murder, 2 Dope Queens, and Stuff You Should Know have larger audiences than television shows. Glenn Hebert (aka Glenn The Geek), founder of the Horse Radio Network, brought podcasts to the horse world 10 years ago.

With 17 shows, including our own Heels Down Happy Hour podcast, the Horse Radio Network is one of the largest podcasting networks in the world. Glenn has seen the growth first-hand. I interviewed him on the state of podcasting.

“When we started 10 years ago, nobody knew how to listen. You could only listen on your computer. You couldn’t listen on your phone, there were no smartphones. So we’ve come a long way and now, podcasting is becoming super popular.

It’s becoming mainstream, you’re seeing it in TV shows. More importantly, people mention podcasts like you should know what it is. We had to say ‘online radio’ when we started, because no one knew what a podcast was.”

New generation

“We do get younger listeners but our biggest core group coming in are 40-to-60 year olds, who are starting to figure it out. In the horse world, it’s 95 percent women. We’re picking up more guys. More shows like yours [Heels Down Happy Hour], like Horses in the Morning, the entertaining funny ones pick up guys.”

Heels Down Happy Hour

“When you guys brought the concept to me, I was all for it. We have 17 shows on the network but we didn’t have any like that. Even Horses in the Morning is very different because we have a lot of guests on. You guys don’t. It’s just basically the three ladies talking at the bar and they’ve done a great job. Podcasting is all about the hosts. People come for the content of the podcast and they stay for the hosts. You’ve proven that. They’re staying because they like the hosts.”

The community around podcasts

“I think what is different for podcasting, as opposed to blogs, newspapers or magazines, is that the community develops and becomes much stronger. I think the reason why the community develops much stronger than other media outlets is because it’s very personal and intimate. You’re hearing somebody’s voice, the emotions, you’re hearing the laughing and the crying. And it’s very raw and emotional. You’re more invested in things that you feel like you’re part of. I can’t tell you how many times I have people say ‘I feel like you’re my friend and I’ve never met you’. And that’s the power of podcasting.”

A growing medium

“It’s definitely growing. Right now, they just had a statistic come out, that there are over 500,000 podcasts on iTunes. A certain percentage of those aren’t being updated anymore but they estimate that there’s around 225,000 that are still active. So that’s 225,000 podcasts. You take all of the TV, all of the radio shows combined, it doesn’t come near that number. Anybody can do it, that’s the key. But can anybody do it well, like you’re doing it, and make it entertaining and fun, with good sound quality and all that? Not as many. They key is making it more professional. That’s our job as professional podcasters. It’s to make it more professional, more entertaining and really put the time and effort in making a quality show. Lead the way. And I think that’s the difference between the average amateur podcast and the professionals. We have to lead the way.”

The horse world is traditional

“That’s one of the reasons we started the Horse Radio Network, all the reporting in the horse world was boring. We said, ‘we need to lighten it up’. But yet we’re fun people, so I’m going ‘why are these fun people who like to party and have a good time have reporting that’s so boring?’, so that’s why we started the Horse Radio Network and especially Horses in the Morning. It was to bring some lively entertainment to the horse world and also to bring out the fun side out of horse people. And I think we’ve done that and then your show has definitely done that. We kind of start the morning and [Heels Down Happy Hour] finishes the day. And it’s perfect, it’s a perfect relationship. I think the horse world needs some levity. We’re a fun group. We just need to show the rest of the world that we’re not stuffy, rich people that don’t like to have a good time, and we just ride our horses.”