It’s not too sensational to argue that the timeline of vlogging can be delineated by words like “pre-Rocketboom” and “post-Rocketboom.” With superior quality content and wholly unexpected popularity, Rocketboom is credited as the first podcast news show that succeeded in bringing major media attention to vlogs, both inside and outside the blogosphere. Even the most simple, plainspoken vlogs continue to be vlogroll mainstays years after being featured on the show. The site began on October 26, 2004 as a partnership between Andrew Baron and Amanda Congdon, which ended two years later in an explosive public break-up, resulting in Congdon’s subsequent replacement by Joanne Colan on July 12, 2006. Congdon has since gone on to host acclaimed vlog projects like Amanda Across America and her own show produced by ABC News. Since day one, Rocketboom’s mission has been to bring news and quirky internet features online each weekday morning, emphasizing international arts, technology, citizen journalism, and, of course, vlogs.
Field correspondents from all over the globe help keep the show abreast of regional trends, despite being rooted in Rocketboom’s New York headquarters where Colan presents the show’s daily news, field reports, and special features. Of course, there are in-depth interviews with politicians and vlog celebrities like the creators of PodcastReady, but the show skitters across topics from Warholian window displays to random Valentine’s Day matchmaking without missing a beat. Sometimes, the news even comes straight to their vlog, like the episode in which John Edwards announced he would run for president in 2008, hauling Rocketboom even further into popular consciousness. Both Congdon and Colan share a presenter’s style that’s natural, reflective, and joke-ready, but Congdon was more of a lovable goofball than Colan, who exudes a professionalism that teeters between lighthearted and reserved. The site has all the hallmarks of a superior news vlog: follow-up links, complete archives, and a search engine that scans episodic transcripts which pinpoint pieces of dialogue to the exact second they were spoken on the show. And since 25 percent of the show’s topics come from viewer input, comments and suggestions are more than welcome. Being featured on the show has also proven to be one of the most effective ways to get your podcast noticed. The Nata Village blog, which gives updates on the African village overrun by AIDS, received so much attention after being discussed that they quickly raised over $2,000 in just a few days.
With hundreds of episodes and counting in the archives, it’s hard to pick favorites. It’s especially difficult to do here since the show is as entertaining on a slow news day, like the one about ninjas, as it is on a day filled with footage from Tibet and coverage of the announcement ceremony that demoted Pluto from planet to satellite. So go out and explore the archives. If you’re a tech fan, check out the interview with Dave Winer, the developer of RSS. If you’re interested in progressive art, check out the episode featuring mechanical sculptor Steve Gerberich and Tyler Riggs’ video game music inspired by Miles Davis. It’s got everything.