Edison Research's The Infinite Dial South Africa 2019 study data shows that 22% of South Africans in major metro areas, over the age of 18, have heard about the term 'podcasting'.

This is lower than awareness levels in the United States back in 2006. Currently, in the United States, awareness is at 70%, while in Australia it's at 84%. Despite research revealing comparatively low awareness levels in South Africa, Jacaranda FM is helping to introduce more people to podcasting, or on-demand audio, by steadily growing its audio content on its website.

Embedding audio in stories linked to the most popular station content in November alone resulted in over 429 000 downloads for Jacaranda. The station's download numbers have grown consistently month-on-month in 2019.

In November, Jacaranda FM's audio content produced South Africa's largest podcast platform, iono.fm's, two biggest single-day download spikes for 2019: 103 548 downloads on Tuesday, 5 November 2019 and 73 360 downloads on Thursday, 14 November 2019.

The former was for content from Breakfast with Martin Bester (Johan de Jonge's wife speaks out after viral anti-Springbok video) while the latter was linked to The Scenic Drive with Rian.

"We're excited for Jacaranda FM who now holds the record for the most downloads in a single day," says iono.fm COO Francois Retief. "A single Jacaranda episode did in a day what few podcasters in South Africa can do in a month."

Jacaranda FM’s programme manager, Hennie Myburgh, says, "It's been a great year for Jacaranda FM, and seeing our audience engage with great content is a testament to all our efforts. We are thrilled to be leading in this space as we engage in a variety of audio platforms with current and new audiences."

The Infinite Dial South Africa 2019 study also reveals that just 19% of the South African metro population over the age of 18 has ever listened to a podcast. This is compared to 51% in the United States. This shows that South Africa is about a decade behind the United States in this space.

So how does South Africa even begin to catch up to countries like the United States and Australia, where podcasting is flourishing and where podcast series is advertised on electronic billboards?

For starters, education around the term 'podcasting' is key. Often the description of podcasts as the 'Netflix for audio — where you get to choose what you want to listen to when you want to listen to it' goes a long way. 

Empowering people with knowledge, demystifying the concept and helping people access on-demand audio more easily on mainstream websites — like Jacaranda FM — is a step in the right direction towards helping to accelerate the adoption of the medium.

And at this early stage in our mass adoption of podcasting and audio-on-demand in general, there is a place for both bespoke series and, especially from radio stations, for those listen back moments.

For now though, as the media industry in general, let's continue mainstreaming the term 'podcasting' and telling our audiences on our platforms how and where to listen.

For more, visit www.jacarandafm.com. You can also follow Jacaranda FM on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.