(Photo: Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
You wouldn't believe it, but in ancient times families would sit around a giant radio in the living room to listen to news, sports and stories. There was nothing to fix your eyes on as your brain was forming opinions about the news or imagining visuals of the narrative stories. Instead, so I am told, you would discuss the ideas and stories coming from the radio with those next to you. Your neighbor would have been listening to the same radio service too. The next day, you could discuss the broadcast with your neighbor and expand on the conversations you had with your family the night before. This was a connected community.
I'm not saying radio is better than TV...actually, I am. There is no dispute from me that TV wins on every front when it comes to special effects, shiny novelties and the power to create a new level of celebrity. TV can also get you thinking, but it most often does so in a narrow way. For that reason, its especially great when you are exhausted. But, TV stifles your imagination with the visual depictions showing your brain how the settings and characters must be. The director, not you, got to be creative and have all the fun. When it comes to TV news reports the swirling visuals, bright studios lights and on screen URGENT BOLD TEXT on a bright backgrounds with tickers scrolling quickly along creates a sense of dire importance, tension and stress. It's not a neutral factual environment.
By contrast, Radio, like a novel, is yours to interpret. The broadcasters tones and speech patterns are the only devices they have so they use them with intent. When a story is told over the radio, your mind is forced engage. With no visual inputs (distractions), your mind is free imagine anything from the most bland to the the most outlandish and amazing. When news is released over the radio, the is much more of a "here's the basic facts kid" instead of TV networks trying to depict things a certain way with visuals and photographs. The latter is more of a statement about modern media. But it restricts your mind nonetheless.
Here is where podcasts come in. The modern podcast explosion has been partly due to the ability for podcasts to be playing while you're exercising, cleaning, commuting, flying, doing yard work, and hopefully not too often, when you're looking after the kids. Podcast have created "found time". Unlike TV, with podcasts you can double up activities and still get the full story. And the best podcasts make you forget what you were doing altogether.
Podcasts also go deep, VERY DEEP. A good example is The Portal Podcast hosted by Eric Weinstein. This is a podcast that gets into heavy mathematical theorem or generally opaque academic discussion and people are EATING IT UP. Weinstein's podcast is growing like wild. The best TV has done to date is the documentary, but if they were to have the same discussions as Weinstein all they could show is visuals of the stars and galaxies.
The best part podcasting as a distribution medium exploding in modern times is that strong interactive and thoughtful communities are forming around ideas and stories again--like the old times. With community based podcast apps like the PodUnion podcast app, podcasts are bringing back some of that feeling existed when families would sit around the radio at night and then discuss the stories and their ideas with neighbors and colleagues. But now the stories are coming from podcasts and you're community is not your immediate neighbors, instead your podcast community comprised of people with the same interests meaning discussions with fellow podcast lovers can go much deeper and longer.
Go sign up at www.PodUnion.co to find a great podcast right now and enjoy!