FIR at 19: A Milestone in Podcasting

Nineteen years ago this past week, Shel Holtz and I founded and launched the For Immediate Release podcast. Back then, podcasting was in its infancy and we began a journey at a time when it was more of an experiment than a mainstream platform.

Our foray into this medium that began on 3 January 2005 with episode 1 of The Hobson & Holtz Report, as it was first known, was driven by a desire to explore the potential of digital audio in enhancing business communication. As we noted in a post and test audio on 21 December 2004 introducing the forthcoming podcast, “We’ll bring a balanced view on what’s going on in the US and Europe in communication, technology and other relevant topics.”

Early listeners liked what we offered and the abbreviated moniker for the show, “FIR”, quickly caught on.

Origins and Evolution

Twice a week over Skype, Shel and I enjoyed discussion and analysis of current and new practices which closely embraced new technologies and new ways of communicating and engaging. We had schwag, such as the coffee mug from our earliest days on the left in the image above. We had our eyes on branding!

We broadened our reach with niche podcasts such as FIR Interviews, which began a revival in 2023. Soon, we had carved out a distinct niche by delving into various aspects of organisational communication. We wrote a book about podcasting for business published by McGraw-Hill in 2006 (still in print and still available).

Over the years, the podcast evolved, becoming a weekly show, attracting correspondents who filed reports from around the world – Lee Hopkins in Australia, Eric Schwartzman and Dan York in the USA, David Phillips in the UK, and Michael Netzley in Singapore, to name five – and expanded the content with new voices joining us with their shows in the FIR Podcast Network on its founding in 2015. FIR became a re-launched monthly show in 2017, and later added short-form episodes in between the long-form monthly ones when we joined Jason FallsMarketing Podcast Network in early 2022.

Podcasting Impact and Longevity

In the modern era, where digital media is constantly evolving and where the number of podcasts is in the millions – it was only in the hundreds in 2005 – For Immediate Release stands out for its remarkable consistency and depth of insight.

From the impact of social media on corporate strategies to the latest trends in public relations, the podcast has consistently provided valuable insights and analysis and attracted a significant community of listeners. It has earned the descriptor you still hear in every episode today voiced by Donna Papacosta: “For Immediate Release, the podcast for communicators”.

As we pass the 19-year milestone on our podcasting journey, we look at the factors that have contributed to FIR’s success and longevity in episode 377, published on 5 January. We also explore the evolving role of podcasting in business communication and how this podcast has remained an important resource for communication professionals in the field, and consider what’s next for this medium that is far removed from being an experiment.

Listen to episode 377 right here. If you don’t see the embedded player below, listen on the FIR website.

Only a year to go until we celebrate 20 years!


  • FIR 191: Two decades in 2.5 hours – 21 January 2020: “In what may be the longest single episode of a podcast ever, Shel and I present observations and prognostications from 17 of the smartest communication professionals in the business…”
  • Podcasts: “I’ve been involved in podcasting since 2004, currently hosting three business podcasts…”

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.