Hall of Famers: Meet the Men and Women Who Changed Podcasting

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Last year, it seemed like a podcast renaissance was upon us. Shows like Serial and This American Life were getting national attention, and more people were listening to podcasts than ever before. It was a great time to be a fan of podcasting.

But in loving those podcasts, it is too easy to forget those who had traversed the podcasting road before us. Podcasting wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for a number of professionals who traversed the trail and made it the thing we know today.

That’s where the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame comes in. The Dallas-based podcasting conference known as Podcast Movement has teamed up with the Academy of Podcasting to induct podcasters who changed the industry into the Academy’s Hall of Fame. According to Podcast Movement’s website, all of the Hall of Fame inductees will be inaugurated on July 31st, the first day of the 2015 Podcast Movement conference.

This first group of inductees will include:

Adam Curry

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Adam Curry is an ex MTV-VJ, an entrepreneur, and the “podfather” of podcasting. After leaving MTV, Curry built an internet business during the dot-com boom. At this time, Curry decided to buy mtv.com and build an unofficial site for the channel. Curry was quickly sued over the domain acquisition, despite receiving permission from his superiors.

This lawsuit didn’t put Curry down, though. Curry was one of the first online creators to combine a daily radio show with an RSS feed, the two tools required to make a podcast work. This show, “The Daily Source Code”, acquired thousands of listeners and millions of downloads. It was a show that showed the potential of podcasting. Curry went on to found the (now closed) podcast advertising network Mevio as well as the Podsafe Music Network and the Podshow Network. Curry currently hosts the “No Agenda” podcast with fellow Mevio ex-employee John C. Dvorak, where users fund the show so that Curry and Dvorak can talk about the latest news and conspiracy theory.

Leo Laporte

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Leo Laporte: Leo “The Tech Guy” Laporte is one of the men who opened the door to the prominence of tech-centric podcasting. Leo has covered the technology industry for most of his broadcasting career, whether it was producing a computer-focused television show in San Francisco, writing guides that help users access their TiVo, or hosting an XM radio show about tech trends in Los Angeles. However, his biggest success was the popular tech show This Week in Tech, as well as the building of TWiT.tv, the world’s first successful podcast network.

According to Laporte, TWiT was inspired when Leo decided to record an impromptu radio show during a visit to MacWorld Expo. That single show was downloaded tens of thousands of times, which inspired Laporte to start This Week in Tech, a panelist show that brings in tech experts every week to talk about the latest developments. In the last 10 years, Leo has hosted more than 10 podcasts, including TWiT, the New Screensavers, Macbreak Weekly and more.

Scott Sigler

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Scott Sigler: Scott Sigler is a popular science fiction and fantasy author who took his writing career to the next level with podcasting. In 2005, Scott Sigler was trying to sell one of his novels (Earthcore) to a publisher. This particular novel had once been digitally printed by AOL’s imprint iPublish in 2001. However, the post-9/11 economic slump eventually led AOL to close down iPublish, which meant that Sigler had to resell the novel to a willing publisher.

However, no one was buying. So Sigler decided to go independent and to release the book as “the world’s first podiobook.” The results were sticky. Tens of thousands of listeners downloaded the book in the following months, and thousands more bought his book. Sigler would go on to release the rest of his novels in podcast form. Sigler’s fans (the self-proclaimed “junkies”) have downloaded 35 million podcast episodes over the last ten years. Sigler currently manages Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company that Sigler founded to publish his Galactic Football League YA series.

Mur Lafferty

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Mur Lafferty: Like many early podcasters, Lafferty was first and foremost a writer looking for a way to express herself. She discovered podcasting in 2004 after hearing shows likes like Adam Curry’s Source Code and loved how it opened up new opportunities for self-expression In 2005, Lafferty started her own podcast, titled Geek Fu Action Grip, where she expressed her love of geeky things in essay form. The podcast eventually evolved into a platform for Lafferty to share her books in serial format. Lafferty also joined the geek-centric podcast “Wingin It” as a contributor.

Geek Fu Action Grip ended in 2007 after 103 episodes. Lafferty went on to write more books, as well as start her current podcast “I Should Be Writing”, a show dedicated to exploring and practicing the writing craft. Lafferty was also the editor of EscapePod, a speculative fiction podcast for two years, as well as a cofounder of the Parsec Awards, a DragonCon-centric award show that’s focused on science fiction podcasting.

Todd Cochrane

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Todd Cochrane: While many of the podcasters on this list are where they are because of their personalities, Cochrane built his career by working behind the scenes. Cochrane has acted as the executive producer of Geek News Central for more than nine years as well as a co-host on the New Media Show. Cochrane wrote “Podcasting The Do It Yourself Guide” in 2005, which was considered a key guide in the podcast medium’s growth over the years.

But Cochrane’s greatest addition to the podcasting world is his Podcast analytics company RawVoice, which has enabled thousands of podcasters with the ability to understand better who is listening to them and why.

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