Much has been said and written about podcasts since their rise and boom. We had heard about the ways of radio in the future, on-demand shows and the availability of the medium to the user. Over time, an official story has been written and -as well as in many other aspects- this story has ignored the work of those who have remained outside the protection of the industry and big international companies.
This is the verifiable story of the first podcast in history. A podcast born in 1999 and which is still alive.
We are "En Caso De Que El Mundo Se Desintegre". We do not mean to receive any kind of yield, exaltation or tribute. Our intention is not to trivialize the accomplishments ofthe many who have contributed to this story since the time when there was so much to test and find and provoke. What we do wish is to yell "Here we are! We belong to that pioneering generation, and we are still creating, the same way all creations have been done since times when words weren’t even enough yet".
The official story is that podcasting emerged from the use of RSS as a distribution means. Between 2001 and 2002 the yet-to-be-created concept of "podcast" was tested with a Grateful Dead’s MP3. Subsequently Adam Curry, a famous Video Jockey and MTV’s host, used the RSS to load audio files. This took place on August 13th, 2004.
There was not a term for that but it already existed. It was only given a name then.
The term "Podcasting" was made up of two concepts: iPod and Broadcasting and it was coined for the first time in 2004 when Ben Hammersley, The Guardian journalist, published a textemphasizing the low costs of producing radio online, the freedom to choose when to listen, the enhanced sender-receiver feedback, and the importance of giving listeners the ability to subscribe.
Up to this point, every honor was reasonably given to those who had written the story of podcasting in English. However, Internet’s presence is worldwide and there were more people searching the web for alternatives to the world as we knew it.
History tells us podcasts began as audioblogs and went on to be part of large companies’ websites. This is rather inaccurate. As such, the first podcasts were experiments and they were pushed into the underground as alternative products. The first attempts of companies to make their own versions were spectacular failures because profit and money earning were not part of the equation, and the audience was not interested in listening to whatever commercial companies had to say. Podcasting was something else.
If we stick to the technical aspects, podcasts consist in the distribution of media files via RSS. That is the answer we received whenever we explained that ECDQEMSD had been born in 1999.This is: how could you have produced a podcast before RSS even existed? This should be something else.
However, RSS did not arise by spontaneous generation. Before RSS, there were several syndication formats, although none of them gained the popularity of RSS. Opinions about its origin diverge but its most documented precedent is the Channel Definition Format, created by Microsoft for Internet Explorer 4.0 in 1997.
But then, how come the first podcast in history was broadcasted in spanish, and way before the date that has been proposed as the birth of podcasts?
"En Caso De Que El Mundo Se Desintegre" and "Óxido" were published for the first time in February, 1999 at revista-trans.com and they were both conceived as podcasts from the beginning. They were not intended as conventional radio shows, but they rather sought to take advantage of the expression and communication tools Internet was providing at that time. Back then we could only find some broadcasters who were already streaming but the possibility to subscribe or download content and listen to them offline was not even contemplated.
We changed our site’s name to "canaltrans.com" in August, 1999. Listeners favored "ECDQEMSD", and "Óxido" ceased to be transmitted after a few shows.
By this time, Internet Explorer version 4.0 provided the possibility to subscribe to websites via the active channels, aside of being able to mark a website as a favorite. This was the Channel Definition Format, predecessor of the yet-to-come RSS.
We then used the IE channels so that users could be able to subscribe to "ECDQEMSD" and so that the publication of new files, between 15 and 20 minutes back then, could be notified and delivered to users.
We figured that this was the best way to distribute contents online, and that these channels were marking a trend, so we decided to use the name of "canaltrans" formed by "canal" (channel) because of IE’s active channels, and "Trans" because of Transmission.
As of 2003 we began to distribute episodes via our website’s RSS.
When the term "podcast" came up, we attempted to get in touch with all of those who seemed to be interested infaithfully documenting the history of this media format but we received no answer at all.
Because "En Caso De Que El Mundo Se Desintegre" is over 20 years of nonstop everyday transmissions now and it is still going on; because we are very proud to speak about the origins of podcasting; because of our listeners who have been writing this story with us; because of all of those who have been forgotten or ignored in every story; and because we are one more link in the huge chain which day after day has contributed to the shape, content and spirit of a free Internet which still struggles against the concentration of power.
If we have never said where we come from, what our previous history is, where the first-ever podcast was born or the place from where we broadcast is because we have always wanted to bring frontiers down and find the human essence which binds us beyond nationalisms or flags. This is why we avoid saying if our podcast is broadcasted from Madrid, Mexico City, NYC, Bogota, London, Buenos Aires, Tokyo or Guadalajara. Perhaps one day we will, but we don’t think this is the time. The place where we belong has always been a spacecraft, and Spanish, with its local variations across all Latin America, has always been our language.
ECDQEMSD is held thanks to our subscribers but its distribution remains entirely free. It is thanks to this crowdfunding that after 20 years we are still able to do what we love with an unusual level of freedom. A kind of freedom that we know also comes with lots of responsibilities.
There’s the story. The story of the term for which some have even come to fight in the American courts. The history of podcasting.
We only intend to encourage all of those who are not part of the official history to identify and gather amongst the crowd and keep podcasting as we maintain the spirit of that which motivated us in the first place, two decades ago, way before the word "podcast" could even be associated with a temporary fashion, rise and growth. For podcasting is not a way of advertising other social media, nor is it the sound of promotional videos. From the moment it was dreamt, it has been a fabulous instrument of communicating, informing, learning and keeping company from entertainment, as well as a means for sharing stories and ideas, questing to regain the human essence.