Day 10: Podcasts #GIG2017

Today I don’t have just some gratitude to share, but some content, too! How exciting is that?

Obviously by the title you can probably tell that each contribution still centers on a theme, and that is podcasts. Besides reading lately, I have gotten increasingly enthralled with this emerging medium. In my spare moments, especially right in the morning and before going to bed, I’m pulling out my podcast app and browsing for the latest episode of my favorites or trying to Google search for my next favorite.

I didn’t essentially see the fad this was and sure didn’t appreciate it. I remember finding the first episode of Serial and not even being able to finish it. I’m much more of a visual person, so anything that requires me to listen and keep tabs of an idea without a chance to pause and reflect is difficult for me.

I still can’t get into strictly conversational podcasts, and more informative ones need to be about an interesting topic I can follow along several episodes to keep me hooked. I’m especially fond of the audio dramas, an expanded version of an audio book or a TV show without the screen to stare at. I love feeling involved in a plotline with characters and emotions and the whole shebang.

Hence why I have my own contribution to make to the growing podcast-sphere. As part of an assignment for my Digital Media class, we all had to make a podcast with plenty of freedom to let us go wild. So the bare minimum was just five minutes with at least two voices heard and some-sort of theme.

And in my essence, I decided to take the hardest way possible to approach the assignment. Knowing my love for audio dramas, recently binging Darkest Night as inspiration, and began brainstorming on my own story to tell. With the help of my brother, we wrote a script, recorded our voices, and produced a podcast of our own.

The Witching Hour is envisioned as an hour-long program that takes some inspiration from horror and thriller genres, including Black Mirror. It uncovers the darkness in all of us and is intended to throw in some twists and turns in there, leaving listeners at the edge of their seats or just thinking far after the audio stops playing.

You don’t necessarily assume you’ll feel emotions when just listening to something. That you’ll be laughing out loud, or your jaw will drop by a completely shocking statement. But hearing a human voice is surprisingly intimate and has great potential. I want to tell some stories that I myself would want to hear, that I would be telling everyone and their mother the next day because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re into podcasts or not, I’d suggest you give it a try, plus this is my website and I have the right to some shameless self-promotion. Many people still don’t exactly know what these new shows entail, but I see podcasts continuing to buzz from here. It’s a new means of self-expression, to allow creativity and ideas to flow, even learn something new and shocking.

But in comes the time for gratitude because wow, you don’t actually realize the extent of work that goes into a few minutes of audio. All of the considerations to make, the time commitment involved to make sure you publish the best product possible. Sure, the actual equipment involved to start a podcast are minor compared to other media, but there’s still an immense amount of strategy and patience required to make the idea in your head translate as you imagine it to.

I’m grateful for the hard-working people behind one of my favorite pastimes. I’m grateful for a new way to tell stories, learn and grow. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to try it out, and simply put, I’d love to keep making more. The idea of reaching more people in a new way is so exciting.

What am I listening to right now, you might ask? Well, I listened to two seasons’ worth of Alice Isn’t Dead in less than a week. Homecoming came out with a second season without me realizing it, so that was a fantastic few days of quality content. I’m also looking forward to new episodes of Heaven’s Gate and Cults each week because the weird, dark subjects are admittedly my favorites.

Do you have any recommendations for me? New shows, or even your thoughts on my own podcast? Pray tell. I’d love to make more content for you all and just see where it takes me.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Story to Tell

When I fall down the TED Talk rabbit hole, I sometimes get bored and don’t find much that really grabs my attention. I mean, learning something new is great, but some talks make me comment out loud and leave me deep in thought and awe.

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, a project I have never heard about before watching this talk. Of course, I highly recommend watching it, especially if you enjoy feel-good things. Isay, after always having a passion for recording the stories and voices of those around him, created a booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2003.

In this booth, you and somebody else simply have a conversation. A personal interview, where you can ask them anything. A facilitator is present at the booth to help. You can spend about an hour there and ask a loved one anything, which is then recorded and saved for yourself and also documented in the Library of Congress. A future generation, a great-great grandchild could go back and listen and learn about their descendants.

Obviously there are other means of documenting your life. Taking photographs, writing things, whatever floats your boat. But I do see something real and raw in having this eternal keepsake depicting people in the moment, their own voices continuing to speak long after passing. And this isn’t something you have to tote around and let it sit in an attic or basement collecting dust.

With the success of StoryCorps, the entity has expanded to those of all religions, economic statuses, genders, sexualities, ages, ethnicities, religions, and languages. There have been recording booths in hundreds of locations, and with all the facilitators who have been involved with the project, one common theme stands out: humanity is innately, truly good.

In today’s media storm, of flashy headlines and constant devastating news, it’s so easy to focus on the negative impact people have on the world, over seven billion of us making decisions and often making mistakes. We dwell so much on those mistakes that keep the 24/7 news cycle running, we’re already onto the next news article or one of those one-minute viral videos before there’s even a chance to dive deeper. We get the surface-level material, and we think that’s enough.

But life is so much deeper than a summarized paragraph or one minute slideshow with subtitles. The things we can learn from each other if we take the time to listen are astounding. Breaking news updates aren’t meant to make sure nothing is left unsaid, to make sure nobody has been silenced or misunderstood. The stories and information covered becomes repetitive, a single story from multiple biased perspectives.

I believe every single person has a unique voice and purpose to share with the world, as cliche as that sounds. News producers and entities are supposed to be there to mediate that exchange of information, but when they try to stimulate an audience with flashy stories and scandals, they don’t do people justice. Instead, news entities are creating makeshift “scenes” to report from, rely on the same people and experts for “another perspective,” and cover so much of the crime, violence, and injustice in the world, we become numb to anything less than sensational.

Before I got more into podcasts, I didn’t really consider audio as an ideal medium for capturing information, stories and memories. I even thought that after working almost a year at a public radio station. That’s probably because 98% of the reporting I did was for random assignments I didn’t have much emotional attachment to. But since getting sucked into audio storytelling, I now appreciate how beautiful it can be to hear people, real or fiction, immersed in a story or conversation. It reignites a desire and curiosity to learn more, to go deeply into a single topic that spreading out information so thinly, it all jumbles together and sets people up to only want the bare minimum.

We should be hungry for more. We should be motivated to not accept the shortened version. Let us not lose that yearning to hear a story, to learn about our past and the lives of others. To trust people enough to even want to partake in a project like StoryCorps, knowing what you say will be documented forever. That takes guts. You know in those recordings, there is no filter to sway in one direction over another, no clickbait, not even necessarily a photo to put a face to that voice and immediately form a judgement about somebody before hearing what they truly have to say. Sometimes we need to go into things blindly. In those times, that is when we see.

Of all the stories to tell, only a fraction of which each of us might encounter, they will all revert back to genuine goodness. To love, hope, and acceptance. To not let others leave this world and become fading, forgotten memories. Each voice matters. It’s time to listen.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Try-Pod

I’ve listened on and off to podcasts since my first year of college. It was very hard for me to stay consistent with anything because I have to concentrate very hard to actually comprehend and remember whatever people are saying. It’s far too easy for me to just drift off and end up missing everything being said. In most cases, I would choose then to watch a show so I at least have a visual aspect to follow and hold my attention.

Recently, however, I really haven’t watched any shows whatsoever, something I’m not used to. I remember last year, the summer alone, binging through many different series. Now they just don’t pique my interest. But I have stumbled again upon podcasts and figured I would give them a try again.

Let me tell you, I’m hooked. The two series up for Serial? Listened to them both over a weekend. This American Life’s new series S-Town? Finished that in two days. Both of which I highly recommend if you haven’t checked them out yet.

I do have some original podcasts that I began with and still refer back to. A classic, Stuff You Should Know. If you enjoy learning deeply about really random topics, this is great. I’ve also picked up Freakonomics which is a similar setup. And, of course, we all know how I feel about TED Talks, so the TED Radio Hour is just an extension of that, but I probably use that more as a means of finding new TED Talks to watch that I might not have found otherwise. Less informative and more enjoyable for Harry Potter fans, if you haven’t listened to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, you should.

Admittedly, podcasts that are strictly interviews can end up boring me. Those are the shows I put on if I need some background noise to fall asleep to. One that I’ve truly enjoyed, however, is On Being with Krista Tippett. As a lover of all things spiritual, I love hearing from other great minds about their beliefs and views on the world. Another spiritually based one is the Bible Project. The two fellows running the podcast also have a great YouTube channel, both platforms which end up going very in-depth into what the Bible actually is and means. It’s much more about the text itself and no preachy beliefs, but I love having a stronger foundation into what this book actually is. (They probably call that a Bible study, don’t they? I wouldn’t know.)

I also haven’t dived too much into any comedic, but there’s one that truly makes me laugh out loud, and that is My Dad Wrote a Porno. It’s as literal as it sounds.

I have some names written down of new podcasts to try since diving head-first into this endeavor. I have NPR’s Hidden Brain in my queue since I really enjoy psychology. I’m expecting Criminal to be a branch off of the Serial tree. And I want to try more story-based podcasts like Alice Isn’t Dead (it’s from the creators of Welcome to Nightvale, a show I never really got into) and Homecoming. I really do wish I could be more into the informative shows so I could pull new random facts off the top of my head, but that’s not in my repertoire.

My most recent find and obsession? Lore. I LOVE THIS ONE. It’s creepy, it’s dark, I probably shouldn’t be listening to it right before I go to bed, but it’s beyond interesting. It’s historical, but it’s told like a story that sucks you in.

I have especially enjoyed the time I spend away from constantly staring at a screen, giving my eyes and break, and just listening. My nightly routine has now consisted of turning off my computer fairly early in the evening and winding down with a podcast. I can’t report back on ground-breaking improvements, but I do find myself enjoying a darkened room with a story to keep my mind from racing too much on my anxiety.

Whether you are interested in podcasts or not, I highly recommend taking less time in general just staring out your phone and mindlessly scrolling through social media. With podcasts, I don’t find myself going to bed and waking up every morning with a need to check every app for updates. I have some space to breathe. And honestly? Even if I’m not learning anything relevant, I feel good thinking I’m being more productive with my time. Maybe it’s an illusion, but I’ll take that over consciously knowing this isn’t a great habit to rely on any day.

Podcasts are a modern version of the family gathering around the radio for an evening show when televisions were nonexistent. I think the medium will only grow from here. At least I hope it does because I don’t have many people to discuss them with. But if you have a favorite podcast I haven’t mentioned, let me know, I’d love to hear some new suggestions. Maybe I can suck you into this world, too. If so, happy listening.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie