prodding your cast

7/21/05

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.