Podcasts have existed for decades, with some sources dating them back to the 1980s. So, when I downloaded my very first one just more than a week ago, to say I was late to the party is an understatement.
Somehow, though, podcasts are still an anomaly to some media consumers. Apparently, me included.
What was my first podcast download? Well, so many friends have mentioned “Serial” that I couldn’t resist. So, I downloaded all of the episodes and got in my car for what turned into an eight-hour drive to Colorado. Luckily, the traffic didn’t frustrate me as much as normal because I had something interesting to listen to.
I doubted podcasts for a number of reasons, which is why I had never jumped on board with the trend. I thought I’d fall asleep. Usually having somebody talk at me for eight hours would have been detrimental to my ability to keep my eyes open while driving.
Turns out, if it’s a good podcast, that isn’t an issue.
“Serial” stood out for a number of reasons, and for anybody who doubted the viability of podcasts, that’s a good place to start. First, and foremost, the best thing about the podcast was the storytelling. It would have been possible to shorten that story into a 20-minute feature, but whoever recognized the depth and complexity of that event — or series of events — and decided not to do that deserves credit. That court case could have, and likely in some places did, become a 300-word brief in the national news.
“Serial” hooked me from the start, and clearly many others, because you had to wait for some of the information. The producers and reporters shared information in pieces, building suspense in a way great storytellers in any medium do.
The genre, too, is timeless. While in reality the podcast represents a fairly stunning piece of journalism, it also represents a murder-mystery in its heart.
You start thinking through the facts, as presented, to figure out who did it. You start wondering when a certain piece of evidence will be found and saying, often out loud, what you would’ve done differently than those who actually handled the legal case.
In just one road trip, I listened to the entire first season of the NPR series and immediately started looking for others similar in style and topic.
I welcome any and all suggestions for my next adventure into the land of podcasts.
Right now, I’m taking note of the top podcasts as listed by iTunes. It’s a fun mix. They range from TED Talks and other NPR shows to “Lore,” which is a bi-weekly podcast that apparently focuses on the dark historical tales that fuel modern superstitions.
It’s amazing the variety and genres that exist for podcasts — just as many as there are for books, TV shows and music. I look forward to diving in, so send me any recommendations you have.