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Possible Trouble at Podshow, Or How a Company’s Reputation Might Relate to its Failure to Deliver on Public Promises

March 14, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

According to Rumormonger: PodShow said to lay off 20 out of 60-plus employees, it appears Podshow has suffered a significant setback, resulting in a reduction of almost a third of its total staff. Although I certainly empathize with those who lost their jobs today, I am also not very surprised. The disappointing way in which Adam Curry publicly pledge to make accessibility a part of the company’s core DNA, then utterly failed to deliver on that promise, is a bad sign of the character and ethics of the company’s leadership. I posted the following comment to the above cited article, which is awaiting approval:

Adam Curry did a great deal in 2005 to promote podcasting. I feel we should all appreciate him for his positive contributions. Nevertheless…

At the 2005 Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference, I had a conversation with Adam regarding the accessibility of the Podsafe Music Network and other Podshow products and services for the blind and visually impaired. At that time, he indicated that Podshow would make a serious effort toward positive change, make myself and others part of the development and testing processes, and generally work with the disability community to ensure full participation by everyone.

Adam further made this pledge a day later on his Daily Source Code, and in several podcasts in December 2005 into January 2006. The only single act that ever came from this pledge was a Skype conversation between Andrew Grumet, myself and a blind programmer friend of mine concerning ways in which the accessibility of Add to Playlist and other Podsafe Music Network features could be increased.

I feel Adam’s total lack of follow through and responses to my requests for ongoing communication have represented a sad state of affairs with respect to his character and, by extension, the company he leads. The issues with PMN continue to exist despite the fact it has been around for almost two years and most of the rest of Podshow contains serious accessibility barriers that inhibit full participation by people with disabilities. When the leadership of a company makes promises to an underserved population, those people believe him in good faith but the promises are never delivered, that should tell everyone a great deal about the character, ethics and lack of good corporate citizenship involved. It should also tell all of you about the quality of customer service and technical support you may not receive when doing business with Podshow.

Back in early 2005, I was introduced to the concept of podcasting by Adam Curry through his Daily Source Code. At the time, I thought it was an experimental, fun new way to deliver and present content directly to anyone with an Internet connection for listening anytime, anywhere. Adam said he was going to do business in a brand new way, far different from today’s conventional media companies. I didn’t really care about his previous MTV career; I was a fan since he seemed determined to turn the delivery of information on its head. In accordance with the things Adam said to me and a few others, I also thought he was sincere about making sure “new media” would be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. I was very disappointed to learn, over time, that Adam Curry is really very conventional, representing the unfortunate rule rather than the exception. He hasn’t done a thing to communicate with the disability community or made any modifications to reasonably accomodate accessibility as promised all the way back in November of 2005. It has been my experience over the years that companies willing to accomodate the accessibility needs of people with disabilities also seem to be the same ones that provide solid value for money to all their customers. I wish Adam Curry and the Podshow crew would have stepped up to the plate as promised.

Categories: podcasting

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