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9/29/2006
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Podcasters Plead For Microsoft's Help

What the industry needs is a podcast aggregator in Zune and Vista, some say, but there are no plans for one at the moment.

Los Angeles radio host Leo Laporte rallied podcasters at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario, Calif., Friday during a keynote speech aimed at encouraging Microsoft Corp. to add a podcast aggregator in its next operating system.

Laporte, who recently launched the podcast network TWiT.tv, thanked Apple Computer Inc. for putting podcasting on the map with help from the iPod, but said podcasters need other technology companies to step up to the plate.

"Podcasting is not dependent on Apple, iPod or iTunes, and podcasters need to spread the word," Laporte said. "I'm very disappointed in Microsoft. I had hoped Zune would support podcasting. I had hoped Vista would support podcast aggregation, but it will not."

Laporte expects Microsoft will build RSS into IE7, but said there's no confirmation on any type of podcast aggregator.

But some industry sources have said the Redmond, Wash., software maker keeps close tabs on podcasting technology, and an aggregator could find its way into Vista or Zune at some point. "We need Microsoft on board to help podcasting," said Tim Street, executive producer for the French Maid TV, a two-to-four minute video podcast by French maids about "how-tos," such as how to video podcast, barter online, or register a domain name.

"We were on track last summer for podcasting to become the summer of love, but instead the social network site YouTube derailed momentum because their video technology is so easy to use," Street said, in an interview. "We'll likely see podcasting gain momentum in the coming year."

That momentum can only happen if podcasters continue to think out of the box and remain creative in the ways they describe the medium, Laporte said, asking podcasters not to get hung-up on the word "podcast."

Bloggers, for example, sometimes want to describe their blog as a Web page with journal entries.

Laporte also called for the industry to create a consortium, and agreed to help fund the trademark process with Scott Bourne from the Bourne Media Group.

After the keynote, Bourne said forming an organization could help build the industry. Podcasters believe it also would add credibility to attract advertisers.

Although still a fledging medium, podcasting has matured since last year's Podcasting and Portable Media Expo. In 2005, Laporte told the crowd during the keynote to "podcast your passion, don't do it for the money."

This year Laporte appealed to those who want to monetize podcasting, and there are ways to take advertising without selling out to capitalism. Through the Podtrac ad network, Laporte recently signed on Dell, VISA, and T-Mobile to advertise in TWiT.

The Pilotcast doesn't embed advertising into podcasts today, but The Pilotcast host Mike Andrews is putting plans in place. "We'll go after advertisers in our specialty," he said. "We're narrow casting in our field, aviation, and looking for companies in our industry to advertise."

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