I did a lot of podcast listening today.
Thursday is the day that Serial comes out…and if you don’t know about Serial, apparently, you live under a rock. That shit is *everywhere*. I’ve never seen a podcast get talked about so much. And I guess that it’s not just a perception; it’s the quickest podcast to 5 million downloads in the history of the medium.
Can I be honest for a second? And pose hypothetical self-answered questions? Yes, and yes. It’s a little weird to me how bananas everyone is going over Serial. And, I don’t mean that at all as a cut to the show. I love it. In fact, I’ve *always* loved that kind of show…which is why it’s a little weird to me that it’s such a phenomenon right now. This American Life has literally been doing these types of shows for yeeeeaaarrssss now. Obviously, not all of them are about a murder case, and obviously none of them were strung out into 12 separate episodes. That shit is new. But, in and of itself…I wouldn’t think it’s groundbreaking.
The wonderful STYLE that makes Serial actually so much fun to listen to? The down to earth, real aw-shucks, not going to talk down in a condescedning journalist fashion? I’ve loved it for years on This American Life. These episodes could literally be plopped into that show and you’d never know the difference. They ARE that show, with a little twist. And, This American Life has been around for 15 years.
What I’m saying…is that Serial isn’t actually “new.” And so, from someone who’s been listening to this kind of stuff for a long time now, it’s just a little weird that all of the sudden, everyone else is talking about it. It makes me wonder if the slight twist of making the show into 12 episodes instead of condensed into a single hour-long show really IS such a novel idea. But, I actually don’t think so. I think it’s part of the picture, for sure, but I actually think that it’s really a very minor variation on an existing format, and that it’s one of their more particularly interesting stories that this team has unearthed, AND that podcasts have reached a point where they’re ready to catch fire (with all the people who have iPhones and the like out there)…and then the right people (who’d probably been listening to TAL, etc. for years) happened to think this new thing was pretty cool tweeted and column’ed about it…and boom. It catches fire. Goes viral. Suddenly, it’s on everyone’s lips.
But, if you were to ask me if I think it’s like the coolest thing that’s come along in, like, forever…I have a guy aversion to that. Because I honestly think these people have been doing this for years…it’s just now that everyone has noticed.
I also listened to the Children of Tendu Christmas Special podcast tonight while I was in the home stretch of my editing. It’s a writing podcast, and it’s super informally done, and super fun and actually informing to listen to. Tonight, they talked about writing, which was cool. As in, the actual processes they use. And, it wasn’t presented in a “this is the way you should do it” kind of way; they were literally just sharing what works for each of them. I found that refreshing, in that I realized that I am both different from them in what I’ve found for myself (journaling, for example), and strikingly similar in other ways (listening to Trek in the background while I work, for example).
I always find that very reassuring, when I hear other people say that they do things the same, or similar, ways that I do. I guess I can be really hard on myself in terms of how I do things, or fail at things, and when I hear that someone else does or struggles at the same things…well, it just makes me feel better. These two guys are writing for real television after all. I feel less far away from being that person when I hear those anecdotes.
Last night, I actually listened to an A’s podcast, which was simultaneously really cool because there was some really interesting stuff in there, and a bit of a let down. Major pacing and energy issues. It was downright boring at certain places, not because of what they were actually discussing, but because of the massive pauses and fragmented thoughts that happened all the time. It was fine because I was working at the time, but man…I don’t think I’d have lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes if I was only focused on listening to that podcast.
I never really thought about it till tonight, but I listen to a lot of podcasts. Radiolab is the other one that I’m really obsessed with. It might even be my favorite…maybe…This American Life is really near and dear to me…but I also listen to the Writer’s Guild Foundation podcast from time to time, The Business and The Treatment from KCRW on the pretty-regular, and The Moth podcast. They’re great for when I’m walking to dogs in the morning / at night. And, like today, for when I’m working.
Okay, that’s all for tonight. It was a solid day of work. Not the amazing catch-all-the-way-back-up day I’d hoped for, but still. Solid. More of that tomorrow. Writing went well too.