Fudge Sunday - Private Podcasting and Max Headroom
Jay Cuthrell
Jay Cuthrell
6 min read

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Fudge Sunday
This week we take a look at the circuitous routes that podcasts have taken over the past 20 years. Along the way, we weave in references to tropes trove of Max Headroom. From origins to fits and starts to the claiming of legitimately enduring formats, podcasts are here to stay and probably just getting started even if the new world will be millions of Blank Reg devotees.

Origin and Inspiration
Podcasts, like many technologies, scratched an itch of sorts. Internet friendly content formats, increasing availability of broadband, and the notions of publishing syndication made the trafficking of (then) larger files possible.
Essentially, podcasts took the limited telephony access answering machines culture to a global delivery mechanism. Anyone can be their own radio station or their own publishing house with the invention of podcasting.
1983 - They Might Be Giants Dial-A-Song
When looking at the proliferation of publishing from blogs to podcasts, the original dystopian view from “20 Minutes into the Future” and “Max Headroom” introduces the importance and ability for anyone to broadcast a signal into the void and find an audience.
1985 - Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future
Eventually, Max Headroom came to US audiences just as the Internet was becoming increasingly mainstream.
1987 - Network 23 and Max Headroom
Over the next 10 years, the Internet was increasingly shaped by web browsers. Sound in web browsers became a function of plug-ins. By 2000, a unique confluence of formats, creative technologists, and underlying transport possibilities came together to innovate.
2000 - The History of Podcasting
By 2005, Apple devices had native podcast support via iTunes. It would take until 2007 for HTML5 and the VIDEO tag freed streaming formats from the tyranny of the browser plug-in. Years later, appreciation for the vision and innovation of Max Headroom would become a 1 hour documentary and eventually an Internet love letter in the form a blog.
2010 - The Origin of Max Headroom
2015 - Max Headroom: the definitive history of the 1980s digital icon
There Was an Attempt at Mainstreaming
Apple has done a lot of work to control the experience for the end user and deliver on the platform approach to design aesthetics. While iTunes added support for podcasts in 2005, it would take another 7 years for Apple to give the humble podcast a more prominent location in iOS.
2005 - Apple Takes Podcasting Mainstream
2012 - Apple releases dedicated Podcasts app
Oddly enough, just a few years after I turned off blog comments and began a my own personal retreat from various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. there was a brief but ultimately failed attempt to start my own podcast.
2015 - Unicorn Jockeys
From a personal perspective, my voice appeared in podcasts as far back as 2010 and 2011 but these were radio formats first (Marketplace on NPR) and podcasts second. I’d been listening for far longer by then and saw the challenges of wide open Internet platforms repeating the same history as Usenet before it. Yes. Internet trolls had arrived. So, the safe silo enclave club experience version of Internet platforms was destined to appear again. Perhaps the podcast could be that new experience.
Now and Soon and Eventualities
In a time where deplatforming is a thing, it’s natural to expect the balkanization and privatization to continue in a variety of Internet formats and the services to support those formats.
2008 - Balkanize, Rinse, Repeat ad infinitum
Last year, even podcasting became a private label option for Enterprise buyers that wanted the ease of audio message syndication but with a more secure experience that avoids the pitfalls of wide open Internet viewing or listening.
2018 - uStudio Enterprise Podcasting
When exclusivity of content and audience can be matched with an enabling technology, there are new market possibilities and funding will surely follow.
2019 - The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet
2019 - Investing in the Podcast Ecosystem
Maybe one day I’ll turn Fudge Sunday into an audio podcast and blow the dust off of the old Unicorn Jockeys website. Until then, thanks again for subscribing.