If you visit the Yahoo! Podcasts directory, the following message appears at the top of the screen:

“Yahoo! apologizes deeply, but we will be closing down the Podcasts site on Oct. 31, 2007”

I found out about this from Read/Write Web, and one of the comments on the article by reader “Dave H” is quite poignant:

This article nails it. Audio podcasting is dead. It never caught on because most people got tired of listening to all the amateur hacks trying to be amateur d.j’s and pundits without the talent. Yahoo is getting out before the whole audio podcasting thing crashes to the ground. I’m sure it wasn’t an arbitrary decision.
Posted by: Dave H.

Does podcasting still have the same vibrancy that it once did when it was a brand new medium? I think so, but the big publishers seem to expect that the explosion of interest in podcasts would continue to grow and grow. We all know that there’s always an explosion in interest in new technologies/mediums followed by a big dip as the fanfare dies down. That’s usually followed by a subtle rise as it is adopted, and growth is gradual.

I looked at Google Trends to see what it could reveal about searches for the term “podcasting”:

Google Trends: Podcasting

Interesting. That shows the predictable curve. Podcasting must be fading away, going out of fashion. Podcasting is dead!

But once people know what “podcasting” actually is, they’re not going to keep using that same term, because they would probably be more interested in actually finding a “podcast” to listen to:

Google Trends: Podcast

Ahh! That’s more like it.

So Yahoo couldn’t make a quick profit out of their podcast directory. They couldn’t monetise it, so they’re pulling out.

There are plenty of independent podcast directories out there, listing more podcasts than ever before. I’m noticing more downloads of the podcasts that I produce than ever before. If I get time to produce some statistics I’ll post them here, but in a nutshell, downloads are up by 200% on this time last year – on both the factual and music podcasts that I make.

The podcasting forums out there might be feeling rather isolated, with only the same people ever contributing to the forums, but quite simply many podcasters, once they’ve worked out how to produce, distribute and publicise, won’t continue participation. I rarely get the time due to the number of projects that I’m involved with.

So, I think that podcasting is alive and kicking, despite Yahoo!’s closure of their directory. Despite a perceived dwindling of enthusiasm in forum participation, and the inability of some of the media gaints to make a fast buck from podcasts, podcasting is here to stay.

New podcasts will always be around, and existing ones will always fade away as enthusiasm, time, and life in general get in the way of the podcaster.

Podcasting is an organic medium now, and while it may be a long way from being mainstream (will it ever be?) it is certainly gaining momentum.