Hello! You might be a podcast junkie, or a person who occasionally dabbles in them, or a person who is completely unfamiliar with the wonderful world of podcast. Either way, this blog post is definitely going to pique your interest towards the world of podcasts. To what extent, you may ask. The answer to that is a non poetic, it depends. However, a surge of interest is guaranteed, the ratios and proportions are for you to know and find out.
How exactly does one judge a carefully crafted story that took weeks to report and put together but is only 15 minutes long against a 90-minute two-man back-and-forth full of digressions and absurdity with no real point? Well, you just do, basically. Which is better, The Simpsons or The Wire? Nobody has a definitive answer, but they’re both TV shows, and that’s a fun argument to have. When it comes to podcasts, we’re more than a decade into a vivid, crucial artistic medium. The time to have such arguments has arrived.
- This American Life, “The Giant Pool Of Money”(2008)
This episode about the 2008 financial crisis was a collaboration between NPR News and This American Life, a weekly public radio show that has become the 800-pound gorilla of podcasts. It spurred, in turn, the creation of Planet Money, an excellent NPR podcast about business and economics. The hour long episode traces the collapse of the housing market to its earliest roots and is incredible for its ability to make complicated financial topics completely understandable. Wondering about a mortgage-backed security? A collateral debt obligation? A sub-prime mortgage? Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson explain all of this with ease. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better synopsis of what brought down the economy in 2008 anywhere else.
- Radio Diaries, “Strange Fruit, Voices Of A Lynching”(2010)
This 2010 episode of Radio Diaries was rebroadcast after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing protests. The show uses long-lost historical audio to tell the story of the lynching in Marion, Indiana, that inspired poet Abel Meropol to write the song “Strange Fruit.” The producers juxtapose voices of the witnesses who stood by, while a crowd hanged the black teenagers Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith on Aug. 7, 1930, with a 1994 interview with James Cameron, who barely escaped being the third victim. The host, Joe Richman, makes minimal interventions after setting the initial scene, leaving a historian, those eyewitnesses, and Cameron’s steady voice—“I was pleading for some kind of mercy, looking for a kind face”—to speak for themselves.
- Serial, “The Alibi”(2014)
Have you heard about Serial? It’s pretty good. It’s so good, in fact, that there are podcasts about this podcast—and its success has helped to create a momentum for the entire medium. That has happened in part because, by telling a true story over 12 episodes of roughly 45 minutes each, and continuing to report that story as they go, the producers of Serial have created something genuinely new and expanded people’s notions of what podcasts can do. It helps, of course, that the story they’re telling, about the murder of a young woman in Baltimore in 1999 and the questionable conviction of her ex-boyfriend for the crime, is immediately gripping. But more important is the care with which they tell that story, from the reporting, to the music, to the eloquent but conversational narration by host Sarah Koenig. And it’s all there in Episode 1, “The Alibi,” which is now one of the most downloaded podcasts ever made.
So go on and check these out. The ones starting their podcast journey as well as the ones well versed in the world of podcasts, let us know what you think of these three. Feel free to add your favourite podcasts in the comments section below.