Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Podcasts (Part 1)

Let’s get this out of the way right up front:

Podcasts are the greatest form of broadcast information dissemination and human communication ever created.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Where else do you get to hear long form interviews, lectures, and presentations from people smarter than you, often unedited and always unfiltered?
  2. There is no middleman. No networks, producers, or committees getting in the way between you and whatever the podcaster wants to share. Expect to hear lots of swearing, which is of course the way real people talk.
  3. There is no censorship. Just pure, unadulterated free speech and the unfettered exchange of ideas. Prepare to be surprised.
  4. They are free and can be listened to anywhere.

Of course you have to curate your playlist, so you get to choose what you listen to. Caution: watch out for your own confirmation bias. Like any medium, most of it won’t be that good. But there are so many out there that there is still more good (and sometimes great) ones than you will ever have a chance to hear. And they’re always with you on your smartphone.

I got started listening relatively late, maybe three or four years ago. The first podcast that hooked me was Marc Maron’s WTF. I still listen to it – not all of them, but a lot. That’s part of their charm – if the guest or the topic doesn’t resonate with you, just don’t listen. Maron drops two 75 minute shows a week. I also listen to “The Joe Rogan Experience” quite a bit – he drops three 3 hour podcasts each week, so I only listen to the ones that seem interesting. I also like “The Moment” with Brian Koppleman and “Off Camera” with Sam Jones.

Seriously – I have listened to podcasts that had a profound influence on my life, if only because they exposed me to ideas, knowledge, and ways of thinking that were outside my sphere. Because of their free-flowing and non-linear structure, they’re perfect to listen to whenever you have a few free moments – commuting, for example, or at the gym. Just stop whenever you want – you can always pick right up wherever you left off.

But what’s really compelling about the medium is this: At their best you feel as if you are a fly on the wall listening to two really smart people talking, unguarded, about topics they are passionate about. There have been times where I felt like what was being discussed was so personal I shouldn’t be hearing it. People share some very vulnerable moments.

It’s a big world out there, and podcasts reinforce just how big and interesting it is. They’re a great way to remain connected and engaged with life.