Back in the day (15 years ago) when the content-managed web was learning to toddle and Web 2.0 was the only thing people talked about and blogging was hot shit and there was a thriving blog scene in Cleveland and I was frequently meeting and talking with all kinds of bloggers and we were going to upend the power dynamics of Cleveland through citizen journalism and we would meet with actual real journalists and have arguments about what constituted news and ethics and fair reporting and other fairy tales, this other group of nerds, even nerdier than bloggers, were talking about how podcasting would do all that same shit, except as a radio program you could download and listen to at any time.
I thought the idea of a downloadable radio program was ludicrous. I have always preferred to ingest information by reading. Watching video or listening to something feels like a waste of time. In my early 20s I was drinking beers on random Tremont porches and at DIY shows half the nights of the week or poetry readings the other half. I had nearly no commute at the time, so my entertainment dance card was full.
I still think most podcasts are ludicrous, but I’ve managed to find a few that are pretty damn great. I also spend 80 minutes a day every other week going from home to my kid’s school to work to my kid’s school to home and even I get tired of listening to music that much. I’ve learned that I can only deal with a podcast if it is 30 minutes or less. It needs to be well-produced and not ramble. It needs to be informative, insightful, or artistic but not melodramatic. Sturgeon’s Law holds true with podcasts as with everything else, and my tastes are eclectic enough that it is very difficult to sift through the grillions of cookie-cutter true crime podcasts and two hour rambles with bad acoustics and worse jokes.
If you ever want to torture secrets out of me, play banal conversational podcasts at me for about 5 minutes and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.
The good ones are very good, and I’ve been edified and entertained for a good year & a half by them so far. So, here’s to podcasts, I guess.