Hooked on a Podcast

Did you know you don’t need an iPod to listen to a Podcast? OK, if you’re reading this, you probably did know. I know my students know, because they are already listening to Podcasts on all kinds of devices that connect to the Internet.

I never really thought of hearing the end of an NPR story that I couldn’t complete when I was listening to it being broadcast over-the-air, on the NPR website, as a Podcast. It was just a way I could finish listening to something that had captured my attention. But that is a Podcast too.

To me, Podcasts were more along the lines of content developed to be delivered only via the Internet that could be

Then I heard the buzz about Serial. It premiered in October 2014 and season one was made up of twelve episodes. Serial is a spin-off of the public radio program This American Life.

By the time I joined the “party” of fans hooked on this Podcast it had ended. All twelve episodes had been created and streamed. The last episode had just been posted before I was getting ready to leave for my annual Christmas vacation back in my hometown in New England. The drive from Kentucky to my hometown is a 15-hour, two day journey.

My plan was to download the entire first season of Serial and listen to it on my drive. I actually own an iPod Classic 80GB so it seemed appropriate to go on iTunes and download season one into this device for my drive. I also knew that I would be able to complete the entire first season before I arrived home for Christmas. What was season one about? I actually knew very little about it other than it was not fiction, but a true story about a homicide and a young man sitting in jail as a result. I had also heard that it gave the listener a behind the scenes look at how journalists work when covering a story. Not “parachute journalism” that is typically what we see on the national TV evening newscasts, but real investigative, shoe-leather journalism. I was as excited to get on the road to see my friends and family for Christmas as I was to plug in my iPod and begin listening to the first episode of Serial.

Full disclosure, I did have a fleeting thought that I might not be engaged by Serial and a major portion of my audio accompaniment for my long drive might be toast. That didn’t happen. Actually, I experienced a totally different problem, that being getting out my car to fill-up with gas or stopping for a necessary restroom break and having to stop the playback of Serial while I was out of my car. Yes, it’s that engaging!

Sarah Koenig hosts Serial and she’s a fabulous storyteller. What this Podcast does is cover one true story, one episode per week, and no one, including the Serial Team knows where it will end until they get there. Because of this, listeners to the Podcast that might have intimate information about the story contact Sarah and her team with leads and information for them to pursue. Had I been listening in “real time” as each new week’s episode was posted I would have been able to contribute had I had such knowledge about this story myself. (I didn’t) However, because I had the entire season one loaded onto my iPod, I had a similar problem to the year one of my son’s gave me season one of the TV show 24. Knowing I had the next episode at the ready meant I got very little done once I began watching that DVD. The good news is when it comes to audio content; you can do other things while listening, such as driving 15-hours back home for Christmas.

I’m not going to reveal details of the story of season one in this post, I think you will enjoy it more the less you know going in. I will tell you that I sent in my donation to keep this Podcast going. Sarah only mentions this once during the twelve episodes, but it immediately resonated with me and I made a mental note to send in my contribution when I got back to “my old Kentucky home.”

So what did I learn other than a company called Mail Chimp was the major sponsor after listening to the Serial Podcast? That Podcasts are a serious challenge to over-the-air broadcast, they’re easy to use and addictive.

Podcasters are also not afraid to dismiss folks who may not like what the Podcaster is doing. Maybe that’s because the Internet opens up the entire planet to them and when you consider what a niche program can attract when the potential pool of listeners is in the billions, it’s OK if not everyone’s a fan.

UPDATE: The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Friday, February 6, 2015 agreed to hear his case after two unsuccessful attempts to appeal his conviction over the past 12 years.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio

One response to “Hooked on a Podcast

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