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Podcasts – viable supplementary and alternative learning

Picture of Melissa Sheil
Melissa Sheil
// // Right now, university places and applications are being shuffled and decided. What has this to do with podcasts?

// Right now, university places and applications are being shuffled and decided. What has this to do with podcasts?

For centuries, university has been viewed as the pathway to a successful working career. It’s not for everyone, but for more and more, it has been the bedrock.

Some have argued that schooling is one long university entrance exam, but are more alternatives out there?

For those taking the trade route or setting sights on a doctor or lawyer career path, having official institutional qualifications are important – be it uni, TAFE or professional organisation.

Many others can learn from watching the wealth of information already online, notable on Youtube. But what about podcasts? (Stay with me.)

Podcasts as Uni?

Podcasts can mimic university learning with their slow, steady accumulation of knowledge. However, they come without the gruelling study hours, stressful assignment pressure and hefty price tag.

Even those who do choose a tertiary education can supplement their learning through podcasts. After all, the future is going to be more about life long learning than learning everything at the start of your career and then forgetting it all over the next few decades.

With its roots back in the 1980s, modern podcasts (the term is a blend of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’) first came into being around 2004, made famous by the BBC and Adam Curry and Dave Winer.

They are basically a digital audio file that is made available – usually for free download – from the Internet to a mobile or computer device. Subscribers can receive automatic new instalments of the series as it progresses, similar to a TV show.

As is typical with the internet, topics range from the popular to the niche, specific and downright weird. Discussions can consist of conversations, interviews or a person monologuing about information about their speciality subject.

The number of podcast users is increasing exponentially, with over 1.6 million Australians downloading averagely one a month – that’s already 8% of the population. Even more popular in the USA, 32% of the population listen to a podcast every month. 

Look here entrepreneurs

A particularly popular and valuable podcast topic for people thinking of foregoing university is entrepreneurship.

Business podcasts are amongst the most popular category. The other major categories are Society & Culture, Sport, News & Politics, Comedy and Health.

Today more than ever, people are looking to start a business of their own. People in every generation from millennials to baby boomers have business ideas and see themselves as having what it takes to start their own business.

There is a plethora of podcasts filled with top advice for every aspiring entrepreneur. You only have to Google “top business podcasts” to find the most popular.

One pod we love to listen to at Startup News (besides our own ‘Startup West‘ of course where we interview local startup founders) is ‘How I Built This‘ from NPR in the US. Guy Raz interviews amazing business people, and asks them how they built their company. The highs and lows are discussed, the massive missteps, the judgments made along the way, and, yes, the learnings.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning
Ingrid Thompson, podcaster and author of ‘So You Want to Start a Business‘.

A local version of this is Ingrid Thompson’s ‘So You Want to Start a Business‘, which is already up to episode 110. Which is another thing – listen when you like, discover some great back episodes, catch up. Find a good one, subscribe and have it winging its way to you every time a new episode is published.

Podcasts are an excellent format to build a foundation of basic knowledge and understanding in a specific topic in a manner accessible for all. They also fill in that time commuting, waiting, walking, exercising, gardening…

Learning – in all formats – is king.

No matter whether you’ve been accepted into university, not quite achieved the desired scores, unsure what to do next or just want to keep learning, podcasts are a marvellous way to access information.

For those not going to university, there are countless stories of successful people without university degrees – more so now than ever and podcast learning can be a viable alternative (depending on the career path).

Today, in a knowledge driven world, the desire to learn is imperative.

No matter the form, learning should be valued and admired. Podcasts are one of the more readily available methods.



Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

We have to plug our very own Startup West, which concluded its first series last year having interviewed more than 30 local startup founders, including 3 live shows. Go back and catch up on those episodes if you’ve missed them – there are some crackers there. Series Two will be back soon.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

‘Ask Alyka, from Alyka. The Subi-based digital marketing agency has put out 80+ episodes, with Alyka cofounder Zion Ong talking about a different digital topic, often with a guest in the studio or a digital marketing theme or case study.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

WA Real, by Bryn Edwards. Based on the London version (London Real), WA Real looks to interview local people and get into the real stories behind their interesting lives. 120+ guests have already been on the show.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

Music on the Move, from the PSO. Founder Bourby Webster interviews local or visiting musicians who might be performing in an upcoming PSO concert, and we get to hear what happens behind the scenes, and the motivations and passions of the people who put such a complex live performance together.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

Brand Newsroom, from Lush Digital Media. When you have a former BBC and ABC radio host James Lush managing proceedings, you know you’re going to get something polished and professional, discussing the main content marketing themes of the day. Over 230 episodes to listen back to.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

‘Business Marketing Show, from Ed Keay-Smith & Brendan Tully. Ed’s a well known local digital marketer, regular attendee of eGroup, he has an impressive audience with around 5,000 listeners per show, with more than 100 podcasts over the past few years.

Podcasts - viable supplementary and alternative learning

Mark my words from Business News. Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer are two of the most respected business journos in the State. Their pod drops every Friday with the 2 Marks discussing the week’s business news from WA.


Any other good ones out there? We bet there are! Let us know in the comments…

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Picture of Melissa Sheil

Melissa Sheil

Melissa is a journalist, currently based in Europe. She has experience writing about the Australian music scene, parenting and real estate.
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