I do think having student produce podcasts can help build fluency and self-confidence. These are some podcasts from some students I worked on a few year back -- we got the hardware through a grant, and we used Audacity freeware to mix it up. they were enrolled in a developmental reading class, and it seemed to be a motivator that they would share their favorite books on a page linked from the school library home page. Many of the same students listened to my first batch of Playaway digital audioplayers this past year.
I love, love, love the idea of instructors capturing content this way for later review or just for thsoe who missed class for whatever reason. And, despite not being an auditory learner, I do love that what RSS does for news, podcasting (delivered by that same container, xml) does for audio. And I love being able to listen to PRI's The World, which my NPR affiliate doesn't carry, and The Archers (and Silver Street). And I love that the city of Chicago has tourist audiotours available -- the Blues tour is narrated by Buddy Guy!
I know there are criticisms that we are losing our shared culture, turning into "pod people" as we seek narrower and narrower ranges of content, facilitated by the long tail etailers. I am enjoying a steady stream of niche reading material, when I would have had to content myself with more mainstream stuff only a decade ago. If you want to read it optimistically, it is making me a specialist. Have there even been generalists since the invention of the printing press allowed knoweldge to expand beyond the individual or even the community? I, for one, find the explosion of knowledge thrilling. We live in interesting times!