Podcasts are the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel! While that is admittedly a tongue in cheek overstatement, I truly have a deep affinity for them. They are a part of my daily routines, providing news, entertainment and education. Even though this digital medium has existed for several years, the amount of people listening to them is still pretty small. Some stats indicate that only 1 in 4 over the age of twelve have ever listened to a podcast. Some of that can be explained by the common aversion to change that most of us feel. In other cases, its a matter of just falling behind in today’s technology. Whatever the reason, for many, the podcast is still a new thing. That’s too bad because they have a lot to offer. Especially if you’re a “thinker”.
As a long time consumer of conservative talk radio, podcasts were right up my alley when I first explored them. In fact, live radio has essentially been replaced in my listening habits. For better or worse, my emotional investment (and trust) in partisan flag waving has withered. So too has my interest with most of the current spate of talk show hosts.
What I find appealing about podcasts is they often feature insightful commentary on subjects either glossed over, or completely ignored by the usual media sources. The really good ones plumb the intellect.
Most of the Rush Limbaugh copycats are just blowhards who barely allow callers with the opposing view to get a word in edge wise. (I’m talking to you Hannity and Ingram.) While I usually agree with the host’s perspective, there is something to be said for giving your opposition enough rope with which to hang themselves. There are exceptions. Dennis Prager, for example, is not only a top notch thinker, he gives his opposition a long leash, and does so in a cordial manner. But most radio programs are just trying to push my conservative buttons, and sell me books. In the wake of these often disingenuous presentations, podcasts have rooted in their stead.
What I find appealing about podcasts is they often feature insightful commentary on subjects either glossed over, or completely ignored by the usual media sources. The really good ones plumb the intellect. A year ago, I listened to a former General Motors executive board member speaking about the coming move to self driving cars and the resulting impacts that will have on automakers, the government, and consumers. Fascinating stuff! Another I listen to regularly covers topics of prophecy in the Bible that most churches refuse to preach on.
These podcasts are the true “alternative media”. Well, for the “thinkers” among us anyway. But have no fear. There are plenty of fluffy, nonsensical shows for those with little appetite for thought provoking commentary too.
However, there are drawbacks. While some are produced professionally, others are an amateur production, a hobby, a side hustle. Anybody can do it. Just as home recording technology provided a regrettable outlet for every garage band to “release a CD”, podcasting can be similarly dubious. The tech is little more than a mic and a recording program with an internet pathway to the world’s ears, and can be produced on a shoestring budget. It can be the karaoke of content production featuring hack talent enamored with the sound of their own voice rather than letting the pro do the job correctly. (A residual peeve from my blues band days…ha!)
Podcasts are most certainly a special interest platform for subject matter that sometimes seems to command an undue amount of devotion. It can leave one with a feeling of “geez, are these guys nerds”. Take for example football related podcasts. There are plenty of them. And while there is some initial allure, eventually I find myself bored with most of them. In these cases, the hosts are not reporters. They don’t usually have access to information that others do not. This amounts to them all basically regurgitating the same information while trying to sound authoritative. While mildly entertaining, these are comparable to eavesdropping on a table of football fans talking at the sports bar.
Hey, but then I think… geez, so what huh? Aren’t we all nerds of some variety or another? I think so. What makes a nerd, a nerd anyway? Its not just awkward social skills or being oblivious to societal norms. Don’t we all have an acute interest in things that those around us might not share? There are interests and passions that we are prone to talk about to an extent that leaves most polite people thinking inwardly “okay, yeah whatever, I don’t really care about that, please talk about something else now”. At least with nerds on a podcast, you can turn it off, and they’re none the wiser. So have at it.
Wherever our interests lie … that’s what kind of nerd we are by my estimation. There are book nerds, movie nerds, car nerds, fashion nerds, cooking nerds, video game nerds, tattoo nerds. You get the idea. Personally, I’m a garden nerd. A Christian Agrarian nerd. A self reliance nerd. A Bible nerd, somewhat of a waning blues nerd, and…… a podcast nerd.
Variety is still the spice of life. We all get to be nerds. Embrace it. Have a passion for something. Just be sensitive about boring the ever living daylights out of everybody else with it!
So, what kind of nerd are you?