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Podcasts: The Radio I Always Wanted

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

According to Buzzsprout, as of March 2022, there are 2,423,127 valid podcasts available worldwide.

Pick your topic and enjoy. Half of the U.S. population has never heard a podcast, and many laugh at the idea. I’ve been listening for about a decade and don’t have enough time to listen to everything I want.

They are everything I always wanted radio to be. I only wish they’d been available when I was a kid. I listened to a lot of radio. It was music until my twenties, when I could no longer tolerate FM.

I eventually discovered sports talk radio in New York City, trying to sleep. I wasn’t sports crazy and never called a show, but there was something comforting about the community over the airwaves.

I eventually tired of that too, and in the early 2000s, Internet radio shows began popping up. Whether they were called audio blogs or podcasts didn’t matter. Even though there were commercials, they usually returned to the hosts and the topics.

What a concept! Where were you when I was a kid? My sixteen-year-old self would have loved listening to podcasts about music or movies or baseball. Instead, we had half-hour TV shows on a Saturday about baseball or two-minute snippets of info from Casey Kasem on the Top 40.

I got through it, and podcasts are here. Of course, there are a lot of wasted words and topics not for me. If I look hard enough, though, I can find interesting topics to fill in the gaps of time in the car, or wherever, that used to be filled searching a radio dial.

I still listen to way too much music but the days of being spoon fed tunes from someone else are long gone. The same goes for just about everyone else.

As a business writer/blogger by day and blogger/author by night, I’m always looking for ideas to write about. I want to know more about something interesting but can’t find it. Podcasts offer help in that the hosts can elaborate for however long they want or bring in guests to tell more.

I like the free-flowing formats and lack of a time clock. If they need to edit the interview, they can do it after the recording, and the listener doesn’t need to know. It’s not like radio or TV where we get a tease and are then sent to a website if we want to hear more. It’s all there in a podcast, and you can play it or stop it whenever you want.

Thinking back to my youth, wouldn’t it have been great to hear an interview with Alfred Hitchcock, Willie Mays, or the guys who played on Steely Dan albums. What about explaining how the microwave works or why Ford Pintos explode when they get hit from behind.

I had a lot of questions in the 1980s. Why do women wear clothes with shoulder pads? How come people in New York City dress in black? Why do people use cocaine? How do you get hooked into a pyramid scheme? Why are drum machines so popular when there are so many good drummers? What is that stuff Mike Wallace puts in his hair? How is it considered “natural causes” when rock stars die at 42?

An inquiring mind wanted to know, and I wasn’t the only one. Now I have podcasts about every subject I can think of, and it’s working for me.

Thank you, podcasts. Finally, I can decide what I listen to, and if I try hard enough, I can learn about any topic.

Are 2.3 of the 2.4 million podcasts a waste of time? Probably, but I wasn’t going to get to them all anyway.



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