The state of British podcasting

Podcasting in the UK has reached its tipping point, says Dean Whitbread in a podcast interview with Hugh Fraser for ID3 magazine.

In the 10-minute podcast, Hugh interviews Dean and Neil Dixon of, a driving force behind the growth of podcasting in the UK and one of the organizers of the PodcastCon UK conference in London last September (I presented at that event).

The three podcasters discussed a wide range of points concerning podcasting in the UK, touching on the characteristics of podcasters (the words ‘anoraks’ and ‘beards’ featured in Hugh’s description) and a contrast between podcasting in the UK with that in the US.

Both Dean and Neil were unanimous in their view that podcasting in the UK is currently dominated by mainstream media such as the BBC (50 podcasts, says Hugh) and The Daily Telegraph. This doesn’t detract from the richness and creativity of independent podcasters, though, as evidenced by the list of podcasts at

In the view of both men, the podcasting landscape in the UK is about to undergo major change as more people get involved with this medium, especially people outside the tech and early-adopter communities. Organizations like the BBC are playing a big role in this in raising awareness of podcasting, Hugh said.

A potential cloud on the horizon relates to plans to regulate podcasting in the UK via the MCPS-PRS Alliance. (I haven’t studied this yet so can’t comment much, other than to say that the notion of regulating podcasting from a music industry viewpoint  – rigidly focused on licensing – will stifle independent podcasting growth and therefore is not good. So if I’m looking for a cause to support, an anti-regulation one could be it.)

As a business podcaster myself, one of the things I still find curious about podcasting in the UK is the distinct lack of businesses embracing this medium. With a couple of exceptions, there are no Whirlpools, no IBMs, no Mercedes-Benz, no General Motors, no anyone such as listed in the business podcasts section at The New PR Wiki.

The UK podcasting scene is dominated by entertainment and fringe comedy, with very little business focus.

So, generally, is it that UK businesses do not see any value from this medium as a business communication tool? Is Hugh’s anoraks-and-beards image putting businesses off? I might include such questions in my presentation on podcasting at the “Delivering the New PR” conference in London this Friday the 12th.

If you know of great examples of British business podcasts, I’ve love to know about them. They might even make their way into the podcasting book my podcasting partner Shel Holtz and I are writing for McGraw Hill.

Anyway, Hugh’s 10-minute interview is well worth a listen to get a sense of what the picture currently looks like in the UK.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Hugh Fraser

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for your interesting comments. I’m working on a podcast for a business which, fingers-crossed, should be out later in May. It will be for a small but high profile private equity company with some good guests. It’s a trial, so I suppose there will be more of this an its like if it achieves their aims.

    I think the trick will be to try and get busineses to think latterally – and not want to podcast too much about themselves, but about a subject that’s relevant to the business they are in. Of course it can be hard to get a business out of self-promotion mode, especially when they are paying for it.

    It will also be interesting to see if podcasts can be used as a networking tool for a business’s key-contacts – say re-sellers, customers, employees, business partners.


  2. Hugh Fraser

    I did of course mean Hi Neville – Many apologies. My only excuse, wife has gone to a wedding and I’m left holding the baby this morning. It’s easy to get a litlte muddled under such circumstances.


  3. neville

    Look forward to hearing it when it’s out, Hugh.

    I’m sure there must be more UK companies using podcasts in business. Can’t find any, though. I do know of an increasing number of companies experimenting with this medium for internal communication, so perhaps that’s where the initial growth will be in the UK.

  4. neville

    Looks like we were typing at about the same time, Hugh. I knew what you meant, thanks! At least you didn’t call me Nigel… ;)

  5. Hugh Fraser

    BMW have a podcast (I think it eminates from the UK and a UK agency) which uses fictional stories written by authors to listen to in the car. The tales usually involve motors or a journies somehow. Penguin of course have one too.

    Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver plans a cooking podcast – I don’t know, but perhaps it will be not entirely unconnected with Sainsburys.

    I heard you mention the Virgin Atlantic travel programme podcast at a presentation last year.

    Not very businesy, I know, but perhaps the best business podcasts won’t seem like promotion at all.

  6. neville

    I’ve listened to some of those BMW podcasts, Hugh (no new ones for a while). Mercedes has similar ones. Add GM’s to the list and it’s interesting to see how some car makers have latched on to this medium.

    Some other travel ones – Thomson Holidays, for instance.

    They are all business podcasts. And, mostly, good examples of using this medium in support of other communication activity.

    Still, there is a desert in the UK surrounding these oases.

  7. Adrian


    Paul Pinfield and Paul Nicholls are currently growing a business (Pinnacle Media) which is based on helping other businesses to podcast. It’s a very new business but it is apparently doing very well, so you might want to speak to either of them (contactable via to get the lowdown.

  8. neville

    Thanks for that tip, Adrian. I’ll follow up on it.

    I’ve come across a few new firms in the UK who are offering services to help organizations do podcasting. From what I can tell, these are largely production companies, ie, they’ll produce the podcasts. Few seem to be focused on communication itself with podcasting regarded as a medium or channel employed to achieve the communication objective.

    What I have seen, though, is activity in the internal communication area with some consultancies active in addressing podcasting as part of an organization’s communication planning. That’s what I’m interested in finding out more about, ie, who’s doing this and where/how podcasting fits within internal and external communication planning.

    Plus real live examples of who’s doing what.

  9. Blog Relations » Blog Archive » British Business Podcasts

    […] Neville Hobson is asking why there are so few British business podcasts? I think the answer is that it’s early days. The word “Podcast” might have got into the dictionary last year, but it’s round about now that it’s filtering into the British consciousness. As Neil Dixon and Dean Whitbread said in last week’s interview with me for ID3, now the big media have got in on the game, (Guardian, Sun, Telegraph, BBC, etc), podcasting is getting some new buzz about it, and that benefits all podcasters and would-be podcasters. […]

  10. Dean Whitbread

    Hi Neville

    Thanks for the comments. Funk run a healthy business based on podcasting – culturally led, but business oriented. We have trebled the traffic to John Cleese’s subscription web site by podcasting him.

    We set up Podcast Nation (just launched, in beta) which aside from being a complete UK podcast listing, also aims to help UK podcasters commercialise by bridging the gap between commercial promotion and word of mouth product placement.

    You might also check out the Podcast Nation blog where we cover some of the models which people are adopting.. particularly look at Cheeze Media’s BLAD – Blog/Podcast DB of Advertisers who are coming at this in a similar way to ourselves.

    Cheers, D.

  11. Dennis Howlett

    I’m working on a client project where we talk to customers about the business challenges they face and how my client is helping them overcome these problems.

    I record the shows as someone who genuinley doesn’t know the customers. We all get thrown in the deep end on this one. Whether the series will become part of the public domain is not my call though I’d recommend that be the case.

    I do an initial call where I get to know the client, understand what’s going on and then explain to the interviewee how I’d like to pull it together. The idea is to condense into 15 minutes max what would otherwise be a 45 minute ramble. We can then chop it up further so in one case we have a couple of 5-6 minute segments.

    By the time we’re done, there should be a series of around 20. These will then be used in sales support as a way of cutting down several layers of pre-sales work.

    The idea is the sales people get insight into what happens AFTER they’ve moved onto the next deal or three. That way, they get fresh insights into how it all panned out and will be able to choose which podcast is most appropriate to the prospect.

    The prospect gets to hear the genuine voice of other customers so they can assess for themselves the approriateness and validity of the solution. Nothing is scripted which I find by far and away the best method.

  12. Anna

    My company are producing a podcast in the UK- nothing like to the level of FIR by the way! We use Podcast FM as our host for the Engaging Brand and yes it is quite basic at the moment but we wanted to embrace this medium and are learning as we go. It is definately a british trait to be embarrassed and don’t want to sound foolish…well we just thought what the heck, give it a go and you can learn along the way…. We have found it a great way to understand our thinking internally before recording it..writing the show notes helps us understand each others viewpoints.So although the main aim was another communication channel it has been great for teamwork!! We are also talking to a few companies about podcasting but it is the time commitment that constantly crops up as an obstacle, and the lack of technical awareness within the business. I believe the BBC will help but I wonder whether there needs to be a more concentrated approach in educating people about new technology. Blair came in on a wave IT focus but I believe that is now waning. There needs to be more education about what is out there as tools for business and individuals a like. I am amazed about how many people do not know what a blog is, etc…the UK needs to address this before they fall further behind…look at China!

  13. neville

    That’s a great example, Dennis. You’re illustrating one of the things I say to companies: you can do this! I’ll add you to my ‘here are some good ideas’ list.

    I think learning as you go is what most people are doing, Anna. That’s certainly what I did (still doing, really) with FIR. I’ve just listened to your latest podcast. It’s great. Listening to you is like listening to a conversation. I’ve subscribed! (One suggestion: increase the sound level as it’s a bit faint.)

  14. Anna

    Thanks for the tip!! And without sounding too sickly a cheer has gone up that the great Neville Hobson has listened to our podcast!! You see a fan club in the UK….

    Do you know of any podcasting groups in the UK which are good to join for people starting out in this area?

  15. BizPodcasting

    The State of British Podcasting…

    I stole the title from Neville Hobson who penned an entry of the same title on his blog. I mentioned in one entry earlier that every podcaster I talk to seems to be either Australian or British and Neville sheds……

  16. Heather Gorringe

    Hi Neville
    Just found this post on your blog. Wiggly Wigglers podcast goes from strength to strength and actually has made iTUNES homepage on podcasts in one of those big icons, you know the things. It is along side the BBC and Channel 4, and has been there for the last two weeks. We have well over 2500 listeners every week, and are now on show 43. This new media we reckon has meant that over 15000 people have had an ear full of Wiggly Wigglers for half an hour – stunning marketing. Not only that but we have had so many articles in the press about our podcast that this has had a real spin off too. What I think we are missing in the small business sector is a way of getting hands on practical help in keeping up with all the new bits that you are great at: Things like the subscribe buttons, the wikis etc. I think there is a real market to provide a service for small business to keep their blogs etc updated and to go get all the new bits.
    I’ve missed out what having a radio show does for you in terms of street cred; we have had interviews with experts in our field (organic gardening) including Monty Don, Carol Klein and Adam Pasco, as well as Clare Short the MP and we have just interviewed Tim Smit from the Eden Project. On top of this we have eight great reviews on iTunes which is a real positive. Ooo and the bottom line? we have had orders from the US for our new book and for bouquets sent to folk in the UK, fabulous. I would like to talk more about this and the opportunities for small biz. I dont see the BBC as a problem, I think its great to have my favourite shows as podcasts and great that they are raising awareness of podcasting. I forgot……..its the best fun to make a podcast and great internally as a communication tool.
    ooo, and also we have made what we think is the first podcast of a calf’s post mortem and the first podcast from the cab of a combine!
    All the best Heather Wiggly Wigglers

Comments are closed.