Stop, Look, Listen

Warning: this post has been a long time coming. I’m going full nerd. It’s been a while. 

Although it seems that the world has moved on since Queen wrote Radio Ga Ga, a little digging revealed that the song was actually written as a critique of radio stations. Television was taking over and more people were watching music videos on MTV than listening to the songs on the radio.

‘We watch the shows, we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours
We hardly need to use our ears
How music changes through the years’

In 2018, television is still king, thanks to Netflix and other streaming services. Platforms like YouTube and Spotify have taken over the dissemination of music, new and old. More and more news is consumed on social media. Radio has been stripped even further of its responsibilities, relegated to background noise in the car or public places. I know not everyone has abandoned it, but I can’t be the only one who is drifting further away from listening to the news on the hour.

Consumption is a personal decision, rather than one based on a schedule. When the news is so depressing and repetitive, when the latest No 1 just isn’t floating your boat, doesn’t it make sense that you can open an app on your listening device and listen to/ingest whatever you want, whenever you want?

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the current surge of podcasts. Where once podcasts were used as a backup for live radio programmes (for example, my beloved Desert Island Discs), now podcasts exist in their own right. Where once Serial broke new ground in true-crime investigation, their style has been copied (S-Town and Dirty John) and now pointedly spoofed in The Onion’s A Very Fatal Murder on their newly-launched Onion Public Radio. Successful podcasts are now being picked up by other media, with the award-winning Beef and Dairy Network being broadcast on BBC Radio in 2017 and the recent news that HBO has signed up to broadcast live episodes of Pod Save America, hosted by 4 former Obama advisors.

I saw one Twitter commentator saying that podcasting seems to be increasingly used as a stand-in for therapy and I can’t argue too vehemently with that point. Helming a radio show requires access to a studio, equipment and airwaves, but launching a podcast doesn’t necessitate more than a laptop, a WiFi connection and (ideally) a good idea and/or a winning style (easier said than done). Anyone can pod. A few black sheep aside, I choose to see this as a good thing. I haven’t looked into the statistics yet, but I feel like podcasting allows for more diversity than radio ever tried or could.

If you have read this far, you’ll just have to wait for another day to read more in terms of what I listen to. This is a topic close to my heart and I’m not ready to divulge all my secrets just yet. Indeed you might say that if I was going to podcast about anything, it would be about podcasting itself. It doesn’t get much more meta than that.

Here is a outdated list of my podcasts. I’ll be updating this list as I go along. If you have any suggestions in the meantime, please let me know.


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