• Sandra B

Podcasts, the Crafty Lass and James Taylor

This week a strange and unfamiliar thing happened. A podcast I was interviewed for was published online by Scottish author, Jojo Fraser, and I was able to hear it for the first time. I listened to it while driving to the Highlands and it was the oddest sensation. Effectively a radio-style chat show, I found myself listening intently one moment and laughing along the next. I truly didn’t know what was coming because we don’t recall any of our conversations word for word, do we? And, when Jojo asked me a searching question, I found myself wondering how I would reply. I was pleasantly surprised when something I said seemed to make some sense. That was a wee bonus and a mixture of fascination and relief.

Although we’ve probably all heard the word bandied about, until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really understand podcasts. And that may well be because, according to OFCOM research, half of all podcast listeners are under 35 years old i.e. Millennials and Generation Y. Which seems odd because older people, especially baby Boomers (54-72 years) and the Silent Generation (73 years plus) are traditionally much more likely to be radio listeners. Yet the formats are very similar.

Listening to podcasts is now a major pastime in the UK, with the number tuning in every week reaching almost 6 million, a figure that has doubled in just five years. Even more intriguingly, the steepest growth is now among young adults aged 15-24, with around one in five listening to podcasts every week.

In America, research claims there are 700,000 podcasts and over 29 million episodes of them online. Half of all Americans have listened to a podcast and listeners are thought to be loyal, affluent and educated. So why is there still mystery and confusion?

I think there’s a relatively simple explanation. It’s the word “podcast”. Look it up in a dictionary and you’ll find a lengthy description mentioning digital files, the internet and syndication applications. No wonder so many people are puzzled!

So, let’s be clear, a podcast is just an online, on demand, audio conversation. Just like a radio show except it’s not scheduled. Instead, YOU choose when and where you want to listen. Almost all have a specific theme, a personality who hosts the show and they often include expert or well-known guests. They range in length from 10/15 minutes to 60/90 minutes and you can rate them 1 to 5 stars just like you rate a hotel on Trip Advisor.

If you have a favourite hobby, celebrity or interest, the chances are there is a podcast about them available that you can tune in to enjoy. Our son Steven is a classic car junkie, especially keen on anything to do with the original Mini. He also sculpts with recycled metal in his spare time and likes to download and listen to his favourite regular podcasts on these specialist topics when he’s driving on long journeys.

Much better to choose a topic you’d love to hear about than rely on Jeremy Vine to include something in his show that you’ll find interesting. That said, Radio 2 and other large organisations now produce lots of podcasts on specialist topics they can’t hope to squeeze into the daily programme schedule. And, the beauty of listening rather than watching a video, is that you can combine it with doing other things.

I found it really easy to download and listen to my interview and was thrilled to see the variety of other topics and interests available. Audio books are great too, but a whole book can be a heavy commitment of your time. Podcasts are shorter, sharper and the best of them are always informative, compelling and entertaining too.

So, how did I get on with my interview? Well, Jojo knew what she was doing and made it easy for me. We chatted about all things to do with the different generations and the time just flew by. The crafty lass didn’t say much in advance about asking her guests to sing with her at the end of the interview, but I thought “what the heck, I’m here, I’m podcasting for goodness sake, let’s give it a go!” If you do listen, I profusely apologise for what we did to James Taylor’s masterpiece!

My podcast interview with Jojo Fraser

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© 2019 by Sandra Burke