The Podcast Studios opens on Pearse Street

The view into the pristine Pod 3, the flagship recording space at The Podcast Studios.
Picture courtesy of The Podcast Studios.

By Peter McNamara

Do you have an interesting personal story to share? Is there a certain topic you’re bursting to tell the world about? Have you ever had an insightful chat with someone, about everything under the sun, and wished you had recorded it?  

If the answer is yes to any of the above, you might want to get into podcasting. A ‘podcast’ is a digital audio file made available for downloading to a computer or mobile device. It’s like a catch-up player for a radio show – except that this show isn’t broadcast on the airways, but tailored for an internet audience. 

There are podcasts about every topic imaginable: current affairs, history, food, sports, music, and perhaps the most popular of all, true crime. And they’re all free.

If you’d like to know more about a certain topic – maybe the Golden Age of Hollywood – there is sure to be a podcast for you. You download the episode (or episodes) and listen at your convenience. 

Since appearing in 2000, an estimated 73 million people regularly listen to podcasts in the USA alone, while 44% of the total population have listened to a podcast at least once.

With the rise of smartphones, this format has gone global. One in three Irish people listen to a podcast every month, according to a new study. It might be down to our affinity with storytelling, but as a population we love to create podcasts and to listen in. 

And now HeadStuff, a Dublin company based off Pearse Street, is looking to further bolster the Irish scene. – the internet’s greatest hits is an Irish website that gathers some of the best writing and podcasts on the internet into one place. Billed as “a collaborative hub for the creative and the curious”, they take submissions from contributors on a wide range of topics, and even produce their own written and podcast-based content in-house. 

According to their founder, Alan Bennet, “we get up every morning to make your daily journey through the internet more interesting and productive. We’re all about the quality, and support good writing and reading.” was initially set up as a blog by Bennet in 2014, as a place to put some of the extra writing left over from a novel he’d been working on. He soon invited friends to post material of their own, and this personal blog quickly became a site for internet curation, featuring articles on a range of topics.

HeadStuff has since gone on to win numerous blogging awards. Now Bennet has his sights set on the burgeoning Irish podcast market. 

Last year he undertook a huge expansion of their Dublin offices. The result is The Podcast Studios. Located in Dublin City centre, this new space is a one-stop-shop for all things audio. With three state-of-the-art studios, they provide everything you need for podcasts, voice-over work, video production and more.

“We want to be the home of podcasting in Ireland,” Bennet tells me. “We work with all sorts of individuals and organisations, to help them tell their story in a professional and engaging way. And no client is too big or too small. Whether they need studio time, editing work, equipment rental, or marketing support, we can tailor a package to suit.”

The Podcast Studios are part of the HeadStuff Podcast Network, Ireland’s largest collective of independent podcasters. Bennet wants the new location to be somewhere that people can meet, find support, and share ideas. And in terms of business-orientated podcasters, HeadStuff boasts an impressive roster of former and current clients, with Met Éireann, Trócaire, SEAI, ESB, and Brown Thomas, to name a few.

The Podcast Studios – an impressive new space

I was invited in to take a look at the new studios, and the results are impressive. Based just off Pearse Street, The Podcast Studios is a refreshing space. In the modern rooms and hallways, there are clean, bright walls, splashes of zesty colour, and thick sound-proofing carpets. Overall, the effect is one of energy and professionalism, and there is a sense of welcome about the spacious on-site café.

“Some of the walls and floors are several inches thick,” Bennet informs me. “We had to work hard to keep the sounds of Dublin City at bay.” 

There are three studio spaces. Pod 1 is the round-table studio, and can facilitate up to six people in a comfortable setting.

Pod 2 is a two person studio, more suitable for voice-over work, audio book recordings, or an intimate one-on-one armchair chat. 

Pod 3 is the largest recording space at The Podcast Studios. Here, clients can record audio, video, or both. You might like to live-stream your recordings, or use the area as a rehearsal space, or as somewhere to host live events – with seating for up to 50 guests. Pod 3 comes fully equipped to handle any and all video production needs, offering a green screen, multi-camera set-up, and adaptable sets for panel shows. 

“Pod 3 played host to a few live events during the Dublin Podcast Festival, last November. It’s was great – it’s really turning into a vibrant space. We have another event happening at the start of February: the podcast Pints of Malt is celebrating their 50th episode with a special live show.”

Incidentally, Pints of Malt might be another one to add to your must-listen list. It features three Dubliners of African extraction, discussing growing up in Ireland, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s called Pints of Malt because malt is a sweet drink that many Africans might be treated to as children growing up. That said, children might only ever drink a glass of it: the lads added in the pint to Irish things up.

The renovation of The Podcast Studios took place on the site of the old Westland Studios. Thin Lizzy, U2, and even Miley Cyrus recorded at this iconic location. Who knows what future luminaries will grace these halls…

Get involved: Podcast Studio membership 

If you’re interested in podcasting, and are looking for a supportive environment in which to develop your art, then look no further. The Podcast Studios provide all the services you need to launch your podcast, from editing and sound design, to script consultation, artwork, and marketing. What’s more, they run regular courses on recording, interviewing, and promoting podcasts, and provide one-to-one training.

“We take individual room bookings,” Alan tells me, “but far and away, the most cost-effective way to get podcasting is to become a member.” 

Podcast Studios membership caters to two kinds of podcaster: the independent or hobbyist one, and those geared towards business or marketing. The way it works, when you sign up for membership, is that you get a certain amount of credits. An hour of studio time costs one credit, as does an hour of editing services, or of consultation, and so on. 

For an annual fee of €600, the Independent membership gives you ten credits, to redeem how you like. For a fee of €2,500, the Professional membership gives you 50 credits. According to the podcast mastermind, Alan Bennett, there are huge opportunities for businesses when it comes to this platform.

“With podcasting, businesses can tell their story exactly as they want to tell it. Say, if you were to appear on a radio show to promote your product or service, you might only get a few minutes to convey your message, and you might be interrupted, or put under pressure to finish. With podcasts, a company can take the time to clearly reach their desired audience, in a thoroughly professional manner.” 

He also points out the fact that a business could keep complete control of such material, and use it wherever and whenever they like. He highlights further commercial potential in podcasting that’s still going untapped: that of advertising.

“Advertising on podcasts is huge in America. It’s an incredibly efficient way to reach a specific audience. Unlike radio, where a general cross-section of people will be listening in, a certain podcast will tend to attract a certain kind of person. If you want to target a key market, podcast advertisements are the way. It’s an opportunity that companies haven’t caught onto here. But that’s something I hope to change, for the good of businesses and podcasters alike.”

Both the Independent and Professional plans include a free consultancy meeting for anyone starting up a new show. It’s a way to give people a chance to chat with the Podcast Studios team, to clear up any questions they might have, and get them started in the right direction. 

When the credits run out, members get a 15% discount on studio, editing, and any other services purchased within 12 months of their signing up. “And that’s on top of our already competitive rates,” Alan tells me. 

Also included in each plan is priority booking on recording or editing slots during busy periods – something that could be especially important for commercial podcast clients looking to get their sales message to market.

There’s even some free Headstuff and Podcast Studio merchandise thrown in for good measure. Being a member also grants access to the on-site café, with free tea and coffee. 

“Independents and professionals can come in and talk all things podcasting at the café. We want to get different people talking, to help spread ideas, and grow the scene in Ireland.” Bennet cracks a smile. “Actually,” he tells me, “one of our members says the café is one of the best perks of signing up: they’re glad to have a nice toilet to use in the middle of town.” 

A Brief History of Podcasts

The word “podcast” is a combination of “iPod” and “broadcast”. The name was first suggested by columnist and journalist Ben Hammersley, who invented it in early February 2004 while “padding out” an article for The Guardian newspaper – shameful behaviour indeed. At the time iPods were the dominant force in portable audio listening. However, despite the Apple-related moniker, podcast content can be accessed today using any brand of computer or smart phone that can play media files.

You can trace the birth of this format back to two Americans, software developer Dave Winer and former MTV jockey, Adam Curry. They met in 2001 to discuss the distribution of RSS automated media – a sort of email newsletter, that would deliver different media content to you.

At the time, Winer and Curry were focused on distributing video rather than audio recordings. Back then, however, the world was still a long way from the super-fast broadband connections of today.

Winer was uneasy with the capability of the internet to carry large video downloads. Worse still, the time it took to download a video far exceeded the time you might actually spend watching it, and the video file might reach you in poor quality, or not at all. For these reasons, they decided that audio files were a better way to go. 

Curry wrote a program called iPodder, that enabled him to automatically download Internet radio broadcasts to his iPod. Several developers improved upon his idea, and podcasting was officially born. 

George W. Bush became the first President of America to create a podcast. As the concept gained popularity, new media creators started to jump into the boat, and more podcast networks emerged.

Apple quickly jumped on board, with Steve Jobs declaring podcasts to be “the future of audio.” The entry of Apple into the market increased the accessibility of podcasts all over the world. Now, the rise in popularity of podcasts has started to compete directly with the conventional radio broadcasting model. 

In America, some corporations and big broadcast companies have ventured into the medium, but for the most part, in Ireland and elsewhere, most podcasters are amateurs, broadcasting from home studios. Because podcasters don’t rely on ratings as radio broadcasters do, the subject matter of podcasts can range from the refined to the silly to the excruciatingly mundane.

Podcasters typically cater to a niche group of listeners. By podcasting consistently on one subject, podcasters not only assert their expertise on the subject matter but also draw a loyal and devoted group of listeners. 

Podcasts are also used for informational and educational purposes – self-guided walking tours, talk shows and training are all available.

Feast your ears: How to find the podcast for you

It is very easy to listen to a podcast. Once you master a few simple steps and search techniques, there are virtually no limits to what you can hear. 

The simplest way to listen to podcasts is on a web browser like Chrome, Safari or Microsoft Edge. You can do this from a computer or from the web browser on your phone.

Find a website that has podcasts you like, for example RTÉ Sport. Find the player on the page, check your device’s sound is switched on and click play to listen to the podcast. 

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can use the Apple podcasts app to listen to podcasts. 

The Podcasts app should already be downloaded on your phone so search your apps for ‘Podcasts’. If it’s not, go to the app store and download it. Open the Podcast app and go to the search page (click on the magnifying glass button in the navigation at the bottom). A search box should appear at the top, next to another magnifying glass icon. Tap on this and type in the name of the podcast you want to find eg: “Irish History”. Hit “enter” on your keyboard.

Choose the podcast you want from the search results and tap on it. This should take you to the podcast’s homepage. Once you’re on the podcast homepage you’ll see a list of recent episodes. Tap on one to play it.If you like what you hear, a subscribe button at the top of the page lets you subscribe for free. This means the app will automatically download the latest episodes to your library. 

Finally, if you have an Android phone you can use the Google podcasts app. Search “Google podcasts” in the play store app or click this link on your phone to open it in the store. Install the app. Once you open the app, use the search box (look out for the magnifying glass icon) and type in the name of the podcast you want to find eg: Irish fashion. Choose the podcast you want from the search results and tap on it again. This should take you to the podcast’s homepage. 

Once on the podcast homepage you should see a list of most recent episodes. Tap on one to play it. If you like it, tap the subscribe button at the top of the page. When you subscribe to a podcast, it’ll appear at the top of the Google podcasts app, and a new section in the app will let you know about new episodes from podcasts you’ve subscribed to. You should also be able to listen to podcasts from the Google search app, just search for the name of the podcast. 

In Ireland, we’re famous for our love of storytelling, and this is proving to be true for the 21st century’s newest form of the medium. You might listen to a podcast while walking the dog or driving the car – or you could put one on while cleaning the house or doing the gardening. If you search for any topic, mainstream or niche, you’ve likely to find something that will interest you.  In fact, have launched their own range of new shows for 2020. 

A word of warning however: podcasts are known to be addictive. Be careful you don’t become hooked on a series. And especially not one of the true crime variety, you might not sleep for a week! 

For more information about becoming an Independent or Professional member of The Podcast Studios, or for any other bookings or inquiries, log on to, or email