prodding your cast


The lovely, talented and quite pregnant Virginia Heffernan has a great article in the New York Times today, catching the hoi polloi up with podcasting, and in doing so, refers to Prince Edward Island’s slim, amazing and very engaged Steven Garrity – and at the end, leaves the money quote to my very own brother Steve! I found the article damned resourceful, because I have no idea where to turn for podcasting, and Va. offers some good ones. I trust her judgment (even though she hates “Alias”).

Over the last few days I’ve considered having a podcast on this site, but maybe I’m just getting caught up in the podcast moment, which has to be the quickest mainstream adaptation of a techie idea since that doll that peed when you fed her with the bottle.

For weeks, I had no idea what a podcast even was – and then when I heard, I realized it was the same idea I had in Chapel Hill in the early ’90s when everyone was publishing “zines.” I thought zines on paper were useless, and sought to create an audio “tapezine,” a 30-minute show on cassette that would feature music I liked, a monologue, critiques, some poetry (not mine) and other aural hallucinations. The idea was, you subscribe by sending me a cassette, I’d record on it, then you’d send it back for next month’s tapezine to be recorded over it. Recycling! United Colors of Benetton! JUDO CHOP!

Of course, I made about two before the sheer workload broke my back, and it’s probably the same reason I can’t do something similar here: if I was to make a podcast, I’d treat it like this blog and take it seriously (well, maybe this blog is a bad example). Either way, tweaking the words for a podcast would mission-creep me into hell, and I don’t know if I told anyone this, but Tessa has this new 3-month-old friend that keeps waking us up.

I pretty much wrote this to Va. already, but I think podcasting is doomed in its present form. Sure, people like the IDEA of it, but when it starts cluttering their iPod with un-listened-to shows, they’ll gradually start unsubscribing. You see much the same happening with TiVo users who get frustrated and just delete everything one day, and cancel most of their season passes.

The only place to listen to podcasts, generally speaking, is during rush hour stuck in a car. A distant second would be playing them during housework. But nobody is going to sit down, stare blankly into space and listen to 2+ hours of ten different podcasts. It’s not a cultural phenomenon that lends itself to multitasking – you can’t listen at work, and if you have some semblance of a family, you can’t listen at home.

That said, I think my brother has it right: people will hook onto two shows and love them unabashedly. My favorite “podcast” isn’t really a real podcast, it’s the weekly download of “This American Life” from Audible and even those are beginning to pile up. And nobody – except truckers – drives as much as me.

I have an idea: why doesn’t someone read my blog in a really asinine, whiny voice, say “fuck” a lot, and post it as a podcast? I’d do it, but shit, it takes me seventeen tries before I get my answering machine “outgoing message” to sound just right.

12 thoughts on “prodding your cast

  1. Alan

    I was going to do web radio. In around 2001, Stevie G (married today don’t you know) and I had discussed a rotating file system with random music and audio files that you looped and built up over time, many participants and you could listen to any a file you wanted off loop on demand. That would be easy and actually technically different. But no, the beast demands that you produce novel content week after week and stick it up at your own store front. My next idea was to just get that text reader with the Steven Hawkins voice and sew those files together with some music and ambient sound. Then I realized a basic text reading app cost $29.99 and I thought of the other things $29.99 would cost me and realized podcasting will have to soon die without me. What really bugs me about it is it is the 8-track of the blog-a-sphere: it is unresponsive, a one-way communication from the few to the less few – small scale voice of authority. It is just like those 70’s radio DJ tapes we made as kids. Except the Times think it is a trend. Ooooh – a trend. Excellent.
    BTW, Stevie G is getting married today…or tomorrow. That is the big news.

  2. Joe C.

    It’s amazing though how the right-wing has already hijacked podcasting. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Commonwealth Conservative, they are all podcasting, finding new outlets to spread their neoKKKon propaganda.
    I woke up today only to read about how Tony Blair and his henchmen are already resorting to using Bush’s tactics. An Asian man, that was not charged with any crime and not convicted with any crime and who was not determined to be armed, was shot dead by London police in a subway station. According to a witness quoted in the Associated Press, they pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him. Who needs XXX around when you got Bush and Blair killing people just because of their race, his only crime was that he was Asian and running to catch a subway car, and that is now enough for the right-wing neoKKKons to kill you.
    Also, the right-wingers are now using London’s events to start searching your bags in New York City transportation systems. The right-wing trash doesn’t seem to understand that America has a Constitution, they now think they can do random searches of your bags. If you allow them to start searching your bags, next week they’ll be searching your car, and the week after that they’ll find some excuse just to start doing random searches of your house. This is just how the Nazis started, they slowly built up power until they would seize your home, and the right-wingers even have now elected themselves a Pope that used to be a XXX.
    Enjoy Podcasting while you can, only a month into the new trend and the big right-wing companies are already trying to push their trash through podcasting, not even XXX pushed his agenda as much as these right-wing republicunts do.

  3. Josie

    As you were rattling off the few moments in which one can spare the time to listen to a podcast, I thought to myself: “while paying the bills.”
    Interestingly, I did this just last night while streaming an episode of “This American Life” on my PC. It made the task much less painful….

  4. Chris M

    What is it about Joe C. that creates in me such warm feelings of contentedness?
    Ian, thanks for letting me know what podcasting is. It also reminds me of listening to books on my ipod (iTunes book recommendation: Chronicles by Bob Dylan and read by Sean Penn — excellent). I love to cook so maybe I’d listen to a podcast then. I bought an inexpensive speaker system for my ipod and currently listen to music while chopping and stirring.
    Here’s a question for anyone: How many songs in your iTunes library? I’m up to 845 (about ten of which are books or short sound clips from movies like Napolean Dynamite and Team America). A big chunk is from my cd collection, another smaller chunk from the internet free music fairy, and some from iTunes.

  5. scruggs

    Your Virginia pal also had a great article recently on Entourage; funny show. Though our local paper picked up a column last month that took her to task a little concering the American idol finale songs of The South.
    I think podcasts are a great idea, though I’ve been too lazy to actually load any to my ipod. Sitting at a desk all day with no radio reception, I’d welcome the chance to listen to shows I miss during the day.
    I have 1558 songs on my ipod: 2/3 from our cd collection and the rest mostly from my sister’s. Maybe 25 songs are from iTunes. Of course, 150 are toddler songs to appease the 2 year old. I haven’t loaded books on there yet, but that’s a pretty good idea.

  6. Jason Savage

    concerning Joe C’s comments…not sure how you compare checking bags in a city which could well be a terrorist target to the buildup of Nazi power. I don’t like most of the right wingers in this country either, but to compare them to Nazis is insane. Hyperbole is not even a big enough word.
    Also, Ratzinger, best I understand it, spent mandatory time in the Hitler Youth just like any child in Germany at the time. No one has made any legitimate link between him and any Nazi or Nazi philosophy. Again, that’s a massive exageration/fabrication.
    unless your rant was intended as a joke, in which case I missed it.

  7. tregen

    Itunes = 8000 songs… not illegally downloaded but every disc I’ve ever purchased uploaded… a lot of trash but fun to have at your fingertips. I’ve also purchased about 100 songs from itunes and will probably continue to purchase most of my music this way unless some album comes along that I cannot live without.

  8. Ian

    Joe C., I’ve edited your post because you broke the “No Mentioning Hitler in an Argument About Anything” Rule. You’re ruining everyone’s buzz. How about getting your own blog where you can post whatever you want?

  9. Greg (not THAT Greg, another Greg altogether)

    Damn, we have rules? I’m soooo not gonna post here anymore.
    1952 songs in my iTunes. 98% from CDs I own, 1% free mp3 downloads, and 1 song purchased from iTunes. I just had to have Ben Fold’s cover of “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” I like to explore the less commercial songs on albums, so I expect I’ll continue to buy cds rather than download the tracks in the foreseeable future.


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