Last week, I wrote about how listeners have returned to radio during the pandemic. But part of that growth is also due to a wider shift in the rise of spoken word. That’s evident in publishing, where audiobooks are predicted to overtake sales of (now declining) ebooks this year – a 30% increase since 2018.

And it’s particularly true with the rise and rise of podcasts. The term, I believe, originated back in the day by conflating the words iPod (remember those?) and broadcast. Today, what started out as a niche listening audience has punched through into the public consciousness. According to recent research, the number of podcasts available has almost doubled from 550,000 shows in 2018 to over a million today, with a whopping thirty million episodes to download. In the UK, it is estimated that one in eight of us now listen to podcasts each week.

As a format, it’s flexible and light-footed – yes, there are the bigger budget productions from the likes of the BBC or Ted Talks, but also a burgeoning number of smaller operators doing their own eclectic thing – where the soul of the format really lies. Pick any topic, and there’s bound to be a podcast to listen to. Scrolling through my phone, I listen to everything from The Cycling Podcast on, well, cycling, to Strong Songs, a show which breaks down the secrets of successful tunes. This last week, with everything that’s been going on, I’ve also been listening to Reni Eddo-Lodge’s eye-opening and informative About Race.

Joining the podcasting millions this month is Something Out of Nothing, a show by local illustrator Neil Smith and writer Simon White that attempts to understand the nature of creativity. The idea is a simple but intriguing one – to chat each episode to a creative in a different field, be it books, advertising or music and try and understand the similarities and differences between their methods. The opening episode features fine artist Jamel Akib and like the other episodes I have listened to, it’s a relaxed, discursive, thought-provoking listen.

When I caught up with Neil and Simon over a socially distanced cup of tea, Neil explained how a guest appearance on the science podcast Zombified had led to the idea of starting up their own show.

Setting up a podcast about creativity was clearly a creative activity in itself – an enjoyable, out of their comfort zone experience of learning new skills in putting it together.

The pair’s enthusiasm for the project sums up what podcasts are all about – the opportunity for anyone with an interesting idea to explore, share and allow other people to discover.

Something Out Of Nothing is available at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and