The Power of Podcasting

Two years ago, I got a new car.  Now, you might be wondering what that has to do with anything, but I will tell you that for me, it was a major change.  You see, for the first time, I had a car that I could connect my phone to.  And because of that, I was suddenly freed from the limitations of the radio, or my cd collection.

Instead, I found that every time I drove, I was listening to podcasts instead of music.  Now, two years down the line, the only time I listen to music in the car is when I have my wife and son with me.  Every day during my commute, I am constantly listening to podcasts.  As I started to think about this, I began to realize how much this recently developed habit had altered a number of things in my life.  That meant it was blog-worthy for sure.

For me, the real beauty of a podcast is that it provides information that you are interested, yet in a way that often mirrors aspects of personal interaction.  You can choose a podcast based on whatever crazy specific niche interest you might have, and then, sit and listen to people talking about that interest.  I love that, because I happen to have some pretty niche interests.

And good podcasts tend to be not just something I listen to one episode of.  I grow attached to certain casts, subscribing for them and waiting religiously for them, the way I used to wait for magazines when I was a kid.  In a way, that is kind of the hole that podcasts fill for me.  They are like magazines, only I can enjoy them while driving without killing people.

When I am choosing a podcast to not only listen to but herein lies the inherent strength and weakness of podcasting.  A podcast is really just two parts for me.

  1. the content
  2. the people

The content:

In all honesty, the topic is most often how I come across podcasts and decide to give them a listen.  I think this is probably pretty typical for most people, and it really gets to what I love most about podcasts.  There is really something for whatever you might be interested in.  A lot of the podcasts I listen to deal with tabletop role-playing, game authorship and design, and collaborative story-telling.  These are all topics that really benefit from the added intimacy of the podcast format.  There are a few notable casts for me in these areas.

First and foremost, the Gamer’s Tavern is one that I follow religiously.  Ross Watson and Darryl Mott Jr. put out a great podcast, with each episode focusing on a specific topic in role playing.  These range from topics like dealing with evil player characters to in depth discussions of worlds and systems like Ravenloft or TORG.  They also have amazing guests on to talk about these subjects, and I have to say, I have followed more blogs and purchased more books based on people’s appearances on Gamer’s Tavern than anything else.

I also have grown to be a big fan of Roleplay DNA under the stewardship of Justin Suzuki.  They some similar topics, but they do so in a more personal, conversational way.  Great topics and fun conversations.  Can’t go wrong.

Finally, I’ve grown really fond of Dusque and Dove over at the Rolecasters podcast.  Rolecasters mixes dramatization, compelling actual play, and great people.  Joe and I actually have been invited to appear on an episode of Rolecasters when our novellas start coming out, and we CANNOT WAIT.  So excited about this.

Finally, in a different direction for content, I have to mention How Did This Get Made?  Here, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael make fun of terrible movies.  Look, I love terrible movies, so how could I not love three comedians tearing them apart.  Magic.

The people:

Now, you may have noticed that for all of the above podcasts, one of the things that I mentioned for every one of them was the host or hosts.  This is not by accident.  Because of the nature of the medium, the people in front of the mic truly matter as much, if not more than the topic.  Have you ever listened to an audio book that you really were interested in, but the narrator was off-putting you couldn’t deal?  Yeah, this can be even worse, because at least with the audio book, you could take refuge in the content of the story itself.  Here though, the personalities are providing the content.  It can be a deal-breaker if you don’t jive with the hosts.  The podcasts I listed above all include people I would love to not only listen to constantly, but would also love to sit down and have a beer with.

Sometimes though, I will choose a podcast simply because of who is doing it.  For instance, Kevin Smith.

kevin smith

Now, I love Kevin Smith.  Like really love him.  Like “I wonder what our beards would feel like if they rubbed together love” (it’s cool.  My wife is just as big a fan.  I don’t think anyone loves Mallrats more than she does).   In addition to his film career though, Kevin Smith has basically crafted a podcast empire.  Smith does a number of his podcasts live, and in fact, my wife Tiff and I will be going to see a recording of Jay and Silent Bob Get Old next saturday.  Needless to say, I am excited.

The future:

Lately, podcasts have begun to take a greater position in the cultural spotlight with a couple of fairly high profile events.  the first is that cult television hit The X-Files is actually making a return to television, and it is mostly because of an effort that originated on The Nerdist podcast.  Here is how The Nerdist show itself saw this happen.

“Oh, the power of podcasting. A mere nine days after Gillian Anderson appeared on the Nerdist Podcast, and she, Chris and Matt created the #XFiles2015 hashtag, it seems the wheels of paranormal investigation are in motion already. Over the weekend, at the seemingly endless TCAs, Fox confirmed that they’re in talks with X-Files creator Chris Carter for a mini-series continuation of the landmark sci-fi/horror series. We all knew Ms. Anderson is on board, but now it turns out Agent Mulder himself, David Duchovny, is also raring to put on the ol’ designer suit and fire up the oversized flashlight once again.”

See that?  Nine days.  That is amazing.

Finally, the last thing to mention is that I just started this morning listening to the Ditch Diggers podcast with this episode.  Now, a show that combines Matt Wallace, Kameron Hurley, Chuck Wendig, and Mur Lafferty is something pretty special.  It’s kind of like meeting friends at the coffee shop inside a Barnes and Noble, if said Barnes and Noble served tequila shots instead of coffee and scones.

Yeah, it’s awesome.

If there are some podcasts that you are incredibly passionate about, drop me a line.  I would love to hear about them and maybe even give them a listen.  In all honesty, my secret dream is that one day, Joe and I will someday produce a podcast.  Unfortunately, that dream has to get in line behind a whole heaping helping of novellas, but someday, friends.  Someday.

-Mark

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