Test Drive: Finding new podcast treats with Audiosear.ch discovery

Discovery has been a topic of great interest to the podcast creator and producer community, with top minds of the industry looking for better ways to get shows to the ears of excited listeners. Several companies and hosts are working on solutions to the problem, but some of the most promising answers have emerged from totally new startups. One such fresh endeavor is Audiosear.ch. Its discovery tools scale well to accommodate both new and veteran podcast listeners, and the initial trial of using it shows a tool with lots of promise.

The most obvious way to find a podcast is simple search. Audiosear.ch analyzes shows and tags them by topic. The tags can be applied to both a podcast’s overall theme or to specific episodes. I did a broad search for “hip-hop” and an episode of WNYC Studios’ Soundcheck about The Q Brothers’ performance of Othello The Remix piqued my interest.

I started listening to the performers talk about the craft. One edge Audiosear.ch offers to its playback experience is a searchable transcript of the show. For instance, I was curious to hear how the all-male crew would voice Desdemona, so searched the tragic character’s name and found any mention of her in their conversation. Clicking on the phrase yielded by the search takes you right to that point in the show, and I quickly got to hear what I wanted. If you were sampling a show and deciding whether to commit, or wanted to hear a guest who only participates in the back half of the episode, this transcript search is very cool.

I would have liked to go down a rabbit hole of related tags based on this episode. This episode had several other tags I wanted to pursue, but couldn’t click on them to begin a new search. (This seemed to be an isolated issue; Brad Hill was able to browse related tags to his heart’s content.)

As with any discovery tool, the trick to success is getting users into the tool. Especially with a less-standard URL, getting the word out so that people know about Audiosear.ch and keep returning to use it will be a big factor in making this enterprise work. It has strong support from publishers and hosts, with names like NPR and Slate available alongside niche shows I was unfamiliar with. If listeners get equally excited, then the tight squeeze on podcast discovery could start to loosen up.

Anna Washenko