MY American husband put me on to podcasts. For him they are a vital link to life in the US, an enjoyable way to keep in touch with news and culture back home.

I soon branched out to UK and European networks; downloading a podcast is now as normal in our house as listening to the radio or watching telly.

What attracts me is the sheer quality, quantity and diversity of content on offer across news and current affairs, history, arts, true crime, sport, science and technology.

What once seemed like an alternative, underground way to consume content has become mainstream, especially since the BBC joined in properly. Brexitcast, with Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler, Chris Mason and Adam Fleming, initially advertised itself as a podcast for political geeks, but its accessible, gossipy tone gave it far wider appeal: eight million downloads and counting.

This figure hints at how quickly the medium is growing; Ofcom’s report last autumn confirms it. More than seven million people in the UK now listen to a podcast every week, up 24 per cent on the year before, with half of all listeners joining in over the last two years.

Entertainment is the most popular category for listeners, followed by comedy and discussion shows. Regulars average seven shows a week: these days when you see someone on the train with earphones in, there’s a good chance they’re listening to a podcast rather than music.

It has to be said, however, that missing from this dizzying and dazzling array of international free content has been a distinctly Scottish voice. That changed last week with the launch of The Big Light, an independent network that can lay claim to be Scotland’s first significant contribution to the world of podcasting.

People have been podcasting from Scotland for some time, of course, including The Herald and its sister titles, whose journalists regularly chinwag about football, politics, health and other topics.

But what makes the Big Light different is the pedigree and expertise of its owners and producers, the scope of its creative and commercial vision.

Few know the Scottish broadcast media landscape better than presenter Janice Forsyth and her business partner, TV producer Fiona White, or have the judgment and nous to pull something like this off in such a highly competitive broadcasting environment.

Just a few days in, the lively mix of media analysis, lifestyle and true crime on offer is already proving a hit with listeners at home and abroad. I don’t doubt that this will steadily grow in the weeks and months to come as the podcasts and presenters become a regular feature in our lives, introducing us to new and sometimes unexpected voices along the way (listen out for 101-year-old Glaswegian Ida Schuster, the world’s oldest podcaster).

At this point, I should declare an interest. I was a guest last week on the first edition of Talk Media, the media debate podcast hosted by Stuart Cosgrove and Eamonn O’Neill, who were recently - and inexplicably - dropped from their popular weekly media discussion on BBC Radio Scotland. I’ll bet bosses at the Beeb are kicking themselves now.

Talk Media is exactly the type of deep-dive discussion people are increasingly looking for, offering expert opinion and analysis through a Scottish lens. It’s a hoot, too, mind.

More widely, the independent spirit of The Big Light gives Scotland a new opportunity to converse with the outside world on its own terms. This couldn’t come at a more crucial moment, of course, with many Scots feeling increasingly adrift from an insular Brexit Britain.

At the same time, the BBC is under a sustained and politically-motivated attack from a hostile right-wing Tory government that clearly wants to cut its reach and budget. It’s hard to imagine Scotland will be a top priority in the mind of the new director general, whomever she or he may be. Whichever way you look at it, this is not good news for BBC Scotland budgets and staff, never mind the viewers and listeners.

Media plurality is more crucial than ever to Scotland, and a quality, independently-owned podcasting network is a very welcome addition to the Scottish media landscape. Hopefully others will follow in its footsteps, while those already invested will see the need and opportunity to up their game.

Ever since the BBC started broadcasting from Scotland in 1923 we have been arguing over what it means to give listeners distinctive and informative Scottish content. A hundred years on, we still haven’t mastered it. But at least podcasting gives us exciting new ways to try.