Adam Curry lives for ambient noise. Whether it's a cough, a sneeze or traffic, Curry makes use of everyday sounds to record his hit podcast, The Daily Source Code. Bloopers don't exist. Rambling, interruptions, ums, even drawn- out silences become part of his shows.
In Episode 224, he's vacationing with his family in San Francisco during one of the foggiest summers on record. "... Hold on. I'm reaching back to grab ... some money for the toll ... [rustling] ... It's foggy again today. You can barely see the Bay Bridge ..."
To Curry, 41, and his fans, musings about mundane matters like the weather and driving through tollbooths are aural gems, all part of the intimate sound romps he creates for more than 100,000 listeners worldwide. He likens his audio meanderings to radio's heyday, when it invoked the "theater of the mind." "Listening sucks," he says about today's corporate-controlled radio and homogenized programming. "When do you hear a room breathe?"
To remedy radio's dearth of originality and authenticity and make it on-demand and portable, Curry created the world's first podcast--a downloadable digital audio file (MP3)--a year ago. Since then, some 10,000 original podcasts most by amateurs talking about everything from their sex lives to their favorite Cabernetshave emerged, creating an entirely new medium. This summer podcasting became a full-blown craze, marked by the word's entry into the Oxford English Dictionary. Lance Armstrong has one. So does Donald Trump. "It's one of the quickest trends I've seen in 12 years," says Jeremy Welt, vice president of new media at Warner Music Group. For the first time in radio history, audiences can "shape their own listening experience," says Jack Isquith, head of music-industry relations at AOL, which, like TIME, is a unit of Time Warner.
Unlike traditional radio, podcasting needs no studio, broadcast tower or hushed quiet. Best of all, there's no Federal Communications Commission regulation. Hosts can say what they like for as long as they like. Profanity works too. The Daily Source Code, although not quite "daily," is taped on the fly with a small recorder and a mike while Curry soaks up the scene wherever he happens to be--sitting in bed with his wife, piloting a helicopter or fixed-wing airplane (he has licenses for both) or taking a midnight stroll.