Podcasting and Vodcasting in Africa: Context, Cultures and Consumption

deadline for submissions: 
April 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University of Johannesburg
contact email: 

Edited Volume—Podcasting and Vodcasting in Africa: Context, Cultures and Consumption

Admire Mare, Stanley Tsarwe (Editors)


Publisher: Routledge

This volume calls for empirical and conceptual exploration of podcasting and vodcasting cultures and practices in contemporary Africa. A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers.It involves capturing an audio event, song, speech, or mix of sounds and then posting that digital sound object to a Web site or “blog” in a data structure called an RSS 2.0 envelope (or “feed”). On the other hand, a vodcast or video podcast is simply a podcast with a video element. As alternative to mainstream radio cultures, podcasts and vodcasts have been lauded for affording many (Africans) the space to tell stories that have been otherwise neglected and/or marginalized, allowing them to articulate the world and their experiences. Podcasts and vodcasts come in different shapes. Some are pre-recorded whilst others are live productions. Despite these transformations in the field of radio studies and a steady growth in podcasts and vodcasts, digitized subjectivities in Africa are still framed within the overriding discourse of ‘digital divide’.

In an era of platforms, apps and streaming services, radio as a genre has undergone significant structural changes at the level of production, consumption, distribution, and audience engagement. These structural shifts have transformed the way radio content is produced, distributed, consumed, and engaged with by transnational publics. There is no longer need to have state of the art studios to produce and distribute radio content, mass-self communication capabilities associated with platforms, apps, smartphones, and streaming services have opened pathways for podcasters, content creators, celebrity journalists and social media influencers to host magnetic and viral shows online. In a sense, platformization and digitization of radio cultures and practices have busted the ‘myth of the mediated centre’ (Couldry, 2010) in so far as radio as the people’s medium is concerned. ‘People formerly known as the audience’ (Rosen, 2004) are now in a position to create their own radio content, distribute it via the internet, engage with their listeners through social media and measure the reach and impact of their shows. Most of these disruptive technologies have been developed in Asia, Europe, and North America. For instance, the podcast market is currently dominated by Apple, Spotify, PodBean, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts  and Player FM.

The winds of liberalization that accompanied the ‘Third wave of democratization’ (Huntington, 1991) in the 1990s paved way for transformation of radio and audio broadcasting cultures in Africa. In some African countries, old broadcasting monopolies were dismantled. These were replaced by newly licensed commercial FM stations, which focused heavily on popularising popular culture, showcasing local content, and providing outlets for previously unknown creatives. Even African language radio stations became popular and magnetic in both rural and urban spaces. However, in some countries, these old monopolies were consolidated. Thus, public broadcasters were unbundled into many radio stations, which sought to present a veneer of radio pluralism without diversity. These reconfigurations in the radio sector led to the emergence of new publics (unique urban and rural listenerships) and novel audience participation cultures.

The introduction of the internet in the early 1990s, which was followed by the establishment of social media in the early 2000s meant that digitally connected Africans were able to engage in various forms of mass self-communication and citizen journalism. Because of the low barriers of entry associated with media convergence, digital Africans are increasingly circumventing traditional radio cultures through setting up their own podcasts and online radio start-ups. However, lack of access to technologies and infrastructures are often used to present Africa as a ‘dark continent’. The continent is seen as digitally poor and lacking any meaningful engagement with the digital. The notion of the digital divide has become the default setting which is used to present digital subjectivities in Africa whilst silencing the creative appropriation of available technologies for podcasting and vodcasting cultures and practices. The point here is that digitally connected Africans are producing, distributing, consuming, and engaging with diverse forms of podcasting and vodcasting cultures and textualities.

Podcasts are the latest fashionable trend to rock the radio sector. In Africa, podcasts became noticeable in 2015. There is scant literature around podcasting and vodcasting cultures and practices in Africa. Little is known around production, distribution, consumption, audience participation, monetization, and measurement of podcast content in the Global South. Strides being made by African podcasters and audiences are deliberately ignored in favor of podcasting cultures emerging from the Global North. Whilst acknowledging the structural challenges associated with the digital divide and digital inequalities, this volume interrogates the emergent podcasting and vodcasting cultures and practices in Africa. Overall, it foregrounds the circuit of culture. It invites to us to think about how podcasting and vodcasting have disrupted radio as a resilient genre at the level of production, regulation, representation, consumption, and identity. It also invites scholars to reflect on how podcasting and vodcasting cultures have enabled and disabled various forms of audience participation. Scholars are urged to explore how analytic systems and metrics (such as Chartbeat, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights) are enabling podcasters to monitor and evaluate the reach and impact of the shows online. In this regard, this edited collection will attempt to answer the question, how might we understand emergent African podcasting and vodcasting cultures? The collection will bring together some of the most original thinkers in the field of radio and podcasting cultures in Africa. It will seek to map the contours of podcasting and vodcasting in Africa under the following sub-headings: production, distribution, consumption, regulation, monetization, and measurement.

Contributors will examine how podcasting and vodcasting in Africa is reconfiguring mass-self production, distribution, consumption, audience participation and measurement of content in the digital age. They are free to explore how African podcasters are creatively using available streaming technologies, apps, and infrastructures to amplify local voices, cultures, and content. Over and above these important topics, scholars are also invited to explore the political economy of podcasting, role of data/digital colonialism in podcasting, indigenous language podcasts, role of language in podcasting, innovative distribution mechanisms of podcasts, advertising revenue, and monetization of content, power dynamics between the host and invited guests, digital access, digital listening cultures and the platformization of podcasts. We are currently in discussions with Routledge about this project.

The book will structured abound the following broad thematic and sub-thematic areas:

  1. Production, Distribution, Consumption
  • How are digital divide and digital inequalities affecting blogging in Africa?
  • How does podcasting and vodcasting represent continuities and departures from traditional broadcasting?
  • What are the innovative distribution mechanisms of podcasts?
  1. Emerging Urban Cultures and Practices
  • What storytelling cultures are associated with podcasting and vodcasting?
  • What are the gendered aspects to podcasting and vodcasting?
  • What youth cultures are associated with podcasting and vodcasting?
  • Language use in podcasting and vodcasting
  1. Audience Participation and Engagement
  • Which audiences are targeted by podcasts and vodcasts?
  • What kind of engagement and participation in inculcated by podcasts and vodcasts?
  • What are audience perception of podcasting and vodcasting?
  1. Measurement of Podcast and Vodcast Content
  • How are analytic systems and metrics (such as Chartbeat, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights) enabling podcasters to monitor and evaluate the reach and impact of the shows online?
  1. Monetization of podcast and vodcast content
  • How economically sustainable and viable is podcasting and vodcasting in Africa?
  • What monetization mechanisms are emerging with podcasting and vodcasting?
  • How are podcasting and vodcasting making money via advertising?
  • What is the political economy of podcasting and vodcasting in Africa
  1. Podcasting, vodcasting and pedagogy
  • How is podcasting and vodcasting used in the delivery of education in Africa?
  • What are the experiences of using vocasting and podcasting in the education sector during covid 19?

Tentative timelines:

April 15: Extended abstract submission (between 800 - 1200 words, including key references, key words, and bio)

May 15: Peer-Review Feedback

May 31: Full chapters commissioned

December 15: Full chapters submitted

Feb 15: Peer Review Feedback

April 15, 2024: Production



Admire Mare, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Media, University of Johannesburg (amare@uj.ac.za)

Stanley Tsarwe, Journalism Lecturer, University of Zimbabwe, Senior Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg (Email: stsarwe@arts.uz.ac.zw)

Guidelines for Submitting Extended Abstracts:

Prospective chapter contributors to send abstracts to Dr. Stanley Tsarwe on stsarwe@arts.uz.ac.zw and Professor Admire Mare on amare@uj.ac.za

Please note that all submissions will be peer-reviewed. Abstracts to clearly state the aim and objectives of the study as well as the theoretical and methodological approaches to be used in the study.