WE are living through a revolution in speech broad-casting that is complementing and challenging the authority of traditional radio. There’s a podcast for anything now, how to sand floors, what the must-see destinations in Mexico City are and the short fiction that unravels the fascinating world of master podcaster George The Poet.

One of the greatest triumphs of the world-wide-web as a broadcast platform is its unrestricted global reach and the ease with which we can listen in to the conversations of other societies and communities.

Podcasts are already in the second wave of their evolution but we are still at the beginning of the journey, sketching the cave drawings of what is fast becoming an entirely new art form.

Podcasting offers Scotland unimagined possibilities to build a very different media landscape than the one we have inherited. For those of us who feel frustrated by the narrow ideological range of daily newspapers; the asymmetrical map of broadcasting that binds us to London, or the BBC’s lumbering slowness to adapt and recognise change in Scottish society, a next generation of media delivered by the web is a massive opportunity.

George Lavender, the vice-president of content at the US based podcast-network Wondery, claims that the best podcasts are not simply derivative of radio, nor are they circumscribed by documentary, they are their own unique cultural form.

“Podcasts can take people to places cameras cannot go,’’ he told a recent conference on The Art of Podcasting. “And to emotional states that you cannot reach with a camera.”

Wondery is one of the most creative spaces in the evolution of the podcast – think Netflix for Sound, or as the network’s own slogan put is – Feel the Story.

Its current top shows include a wide range of entertainment, audio drama, true crime, personal growth and sport.

One of Wondery’s featured shows this week is hosted by a natural-born story-teller Lindsay Graham and is cleverly entitled The Mysterious Mr. Epstein. It is the story of how ‘‘a wealthy financier hid in the full glare of celebrity and somehow eluded justice for financial and sexual crimes”.

It is a take on the Epstein case that is both more layered and engaging that the shrieking news bulletins of the American networks.

What is truly different about podcasts is that we are witnessing the gradual erosion of the notion of niche.

In the past, conventional broadcasting assumed that only certain subjects could reach big audiences, and so as a consequence other more marginal subjects were simply “too niche” to be of interest to the wider populace. This argument is falling apart in the new digital world.

Whilst broadcasters may still be looking for big universal subjects, the podcasters are not under the same pressures. Take music for example. Network radio and television commissioners would consider an access documentary featuring Irish rock gods U2, but would think that the story of Glasgow’s Sub Club was “too niche”.

The ground has now shifted. There are enough people around the world who are passionate followers of electronic dance music and of the art of the DJ to listen to the extraordinary story of the underground club beneath the pavements of Jamaica Street.

Aggregate all those people and they soon become a very substantial audience: that is the real opportunity staring podcasters in the face. If I was forced to give a health-check to the podcast scene in Scotland it would be a very mixed story.

There are good projects out there but many of them cling too closely to known passion-centres such as football or are too close to the radio discussion show to be truly original. There are great shows out there. Brave Your Day, the innovative Glasgow -New York partnership, is a pioneer of mental health podcasts; The Hashtag Show is an irreverent comedy podcast and The Dramatised Horror Show is a serialised audio drama, sound-rich, immersive and set in scary old Scotland.

Many more are hidden away on blogs or lost in the forest of things out there on the web suppressed by under-optimised search or not well enough promoted to reach deserving audiences, but there is room for more, much more.

One answer to Scotland’s current low visibility may be coming our way in the New Year, with the launch of a dedicated podcast platform styled like Wondery and based in Glasgow.

ALTHOUGH the idea is still under wraps it will be called The Big Light and promises to be a magnet for the very best podcasts from Scotland.

It is not yet clear how valuable such a network will become, but one clue lies in the story of a pre-existing podcast network – Gimlet.

Gimlet was founded in 2014 and is based in Brooklyn. It claims to “help listeners better understand the world and each other” and was so attractive a proposition that the streaming service Spotify recently acquired Gimlet for an

eye-watering $200 million. When it launches in 2020, The Big Light will enter a global market for podcasting which shows no signs of drying up.

The research company Edison estimates that there are 800,000 podcasts available on the Apple platform alone, featuring 18.5m episodes.

Again there is the risk of getting lost in the forest – a very good reason why an emergent Scottish aggregator can give greater visibility to great podcasts.

Reaching audiences is never simple for any show on any network but reaching out to the podcasts market has its own idiosyncrasies – 20% listen to podcasts as they drive. The average running time is best pitched between 18-22 minutes for the average commute in an urban area.

The podcast revolution also has a real opportunity to subtly shift the way we think about story-telling too.

Most podcast pioneers are adamant that producers should stay away from cliched and over-mediated stories.

Parents talking about their children has the potential to be fascinating but is more often than not deadly dull.

Over-familiarity is one of the many reasons that I tend to avoid football podcasts – not because the subject is not of interest, but because the arguments, the narratives and the tribal tropes of football are simply over-mediated and so drained of any real sense of innovation or surprise.

Podcasts are at their best when they build up a sense of intimacy – a special bond with the listener, and even well-funded broadcast radio struggles to achieve this.

Intimacy is a vitally important part of listening and it is why the heightened drama around a General Election is proving to be thin gruel for podcasters.

Electoral politics tend to follow the events of the campaign trail and force ideas into a conventional talking-heads format, in which rival politicians or opinion formers are baying at each other for the last word.

Yes there are satire shows and the odd lacerating commentary piece but, in the end, most election podcasts sound like noisy radio shows pumped up into the sky.

The forthcoming independence referendum of 2020 stands a much better chance of unleashing a creative podcast revolution on Scotland, not only because it unlocks different kinds of passions and invites many more hypothetical questions.

If the indyref of 2014 is anything to go by, it will also provide a galvanising force for artists, writers and social commentators to engage with the tricky aspirations of nation-building which forces them to imagine a different kind of Scotland.

It is coming to a nation near you very soon, so be ready to produce your own podcast or tune into the voices that will shape our future.