4 min read

Steno.fm: A showcase for Podcasting 2.0 and the future of audio consumption

New apps like Steno.fm are leveraging advanced Podcasting 2.0 features to provide better visibility for indie podcast developers and listeners. Created by Nathan Gathright, Steno's minimalist design allows for quick and easy transcript search without any user friction.
Steno.fm: A showcase for Podcasting 2.0 and the future of audio consumption

I’m not ready to fire back at the audio pundits stating that podcasting is dead...again. Not today, anyway.

I’ll let new apps like Steno.fm, leveraging advanced RSS features of the Podcasting 2.0 open source movement, to do the heavy lifting for me. I look forward to new podcast apps, like Steno.fm, increasing visibility that skeptics have been lacking. This will be beneficial to podcasters, listeners, and the industry as a whole.

Most mainstream coverage centers around the 2.5 million podcasts on Apple, or the streaming “innovation” of Spotify, few really spend their time covering a different flavor of indie: developers helping Podcasting 2.0.

Who is behind Steno.fm?

Nathan Gathright, creator of Pod.link and former Spotify employee, has been working on Steno.fm for a few years.

Like me, he was unlucky enough to be part of the Great Tech Layoffs that happened to, also, hit Spotify. (I worked for a podcast hosting company, not Spotify.)

Gathright did what any passionate product builder would do: He took to polishing up his side project. Making things a bit more formal in it’s approach, and launching it (again) to the public. Read the announcement on their blog.

It's an app where you can search through podcasts that support the transcript feature, play episodes, and scour through the .srt files Gathright displays per episode.

Ticking all the right boxes for a lightweight listening and reading experience.

Steno.fm isn’t alone in advancing podcasting

Gathright isn’t the only indie developer building unique web apps for podcasting. CurioCaster is another podcast listening app that works great in the web browser. Created by Steven Bell, he’s constantly iterating on the experience to bring in many of the great Podcasting 2.0 features like live streaming, chapters, and value4value.

Podnews weekly review’s own Sam Sethi has been teasing us (I got a sneak peek behind the scenes!) with his upcoming app, Podfans. He’s working on a way to bring podcasters and creators together through a more delightful way of monetization.

From my perspective, Podnews is the only podcast industry newsletter covering a lot of the activity in the Podcasting 2.0 landscape.

Most industry coverage views it from the money side: Advertising (like, big brand deals), big shows (like, shows that win awards), and big tech (like, Spotify).

I suspect the media are less interested in giving coverage to the developers who gather on Podcastindex.social or in a GitHub repository as it likely won't result in many clicks.

I surmise that this corner of podcasting isn’t covered because there are so many in the industry that aren’t educated. Which is a shame because open source is right there for you to review. Spend some time chatting it up on Mastodon, or a few hours combing through GitHub issues. The action is there if you want to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

When you see the headline “Podcasting is dead” scroll through your social media timeline, let the author know they aren’t looking in the right places.

Playing a podcast with a transcript on Steno.fm

Spoiled by Steno.fm

I’ve really enjoyed Gathright's minimalist approach to Steno.fm, an approach that sets it apart from something like a CurioCaster.

Steno.fm is a very intentional app. Or It could be that he hasn’t had the time to pour in all of the features he’s working on, though I do hope he sticks to a narrow list of useful bells & whistles.

The standout feature, albeit simple, is support for podcasts that ship transcripts in their RSS feeds. A Podcasting 2.0 feature that allows supporting apps to display an episode’s transcript into the native listening experience.

It’s quick and easy, allowing me to punch into an episode when I wanted to find something the host mentioned while I was out on a run. The experience isn’t overbearing, I can search/listen/read without hassle. There’s no bloated social features or logins that cause a lot of user friction.

Best of all: clean design.

New podcast apps won’t survive very long without good design. Something I hope to see more apps invest in soon.

Turn up Steno.fm

Load up Steno.fm in your browser and take transcript search for a spin.

If you’ve never heard of Podcasting 2.0 features before, this is a delightful experience to see transcripts and people features in action. Their trending page is also powered by another open source podcast initiative, OP3.

Be sure to hop on the mailing list, I’m sure Steno.fm will be shipping more features soon!

If you want to include transcripts in your podcast feed, switch to a podcast host that supports them. I recommend and use Transistor.fm (aff. link) for starting a podcast.