Throughout the years of writing and blogging I've had the opportunity to venture into other forms of media like TV and radio. Some of my posts in Huffington Post would get picked up by other outlets and I'd be asked to appear on a few shows. About a year ago I had the opportunity to have a regular weekly slot as a guest on the "Tony Show" with long time political talk show host, Tony Trupiano.
Tony and I would spend an hour each week discussing current affairs, politics, and whatever had us pissed off that week. I was amazed at how much we were able to talk about and how quickly the time went. It really is amazing how much you can talk about in an hour and how quickly that hour is filled -- the benefits became quickly apparent.
My dad once told me I had a face for radio. I was fourteen years old and had just passed the FCC exam and was ready to make my mark on the airwaves. Our local high school had a TV and radio station and I had managed to con the guy in charge into letting me have a show. So twice a week I would travel from the middle school to the high school to entertain the dozen or so people who actually tuned into the 10-watt station.
I eventually graduated high school and left my broadcasting career behind, but held onto the unhealthy habit of offering my opinion. Several years later I found myself in North Carolina working as a newspaper reporter covering cops, crimes, schoolboard meetings, snapping turtles, elections and just about everything else that fell into the category of things worth reading about. Eventually, I moved back to the East Coast and did some freelance and tech writing, leaving the news and politics behind. Then in 2009, the economy collapsed, people were losing their houses and the world -- at least according to Wall Street -- was coming to an end. Through a strange course of events and circumstances I found myself, once again, writing about banks, finances, politics, homeowners, and politicians. As luck would have it, I ended up on the pages of the Huffington Post, where I've been now for the past seven years. That's were Tony found me and since then, he and I have partnered up to do T&Z Talk -- a daily podcast about current events and politics.
There's a lot to be said about podcasting from a bloggers perspective. The most obvious is sheer numbers. I can talk for an hour about topics that would take me days to write about. We can include actual audio, guests, and opinion -- most importantly there's no need to point out sarcasm or explain a joke. Plagiarism is another factor to consider. I've lost count of the amount of articles I've spent hours writing, only to see them on some other website, surrounded by cheesy ads, bearing someone else's name.
I recently came across an article that drives many of these points home. "Current Affairs" published an article last month by Nathan J. Robinson titled, "Keeping The Content Machine Whirring." In it Robinson lays out the state of content on the web. He describes two article. The first one he wrote was well sourced, researched and edited and a second post he wrote that was more opinion and fluff. The first one, as he puts it, "... was a carefully-reasoned argument on immigration, critiquing progressives for advocating the deportation of criminals." The second article:
...was basically an attempt to write the most clickbaity thing I could think of; i.e. taking some item in pop culture and calling it racist. For that, I went to see the film Trainwreck and then just mindlessly wrote a screed about it. I looked online and saw that nobody in a major outlet had called the film racist yet, and I figured that as long as I was the first person to call Trainwreck racist, it would be easy enough to get such a thing published. People have said that the star, Amy Schumer, is a racist plenty of times before. But nobody had yet called this particular film of hers racist! I figured it would be a sure fit for Salon, since it was basically exactly the article I think of when I think about the site.
It's not hard to guess which one was accepted, published and paid off. As Robinson puts it, the deportation article was published no further than his email outbox. "Trainwreck's Race Problem," on the other hand was shared over 1,000 times and had hundreds of comments.
One has to wonder if podcast fans would be more likely to listen to a conversation about deportation if they were already tuned in?
In an unfortunate example, "Kids Count in Michigan" Project Director, Alicia Guevara Warren joined us on the show last week for 15 minutes to talk about child poverty and hunger. The original title of the show, was "The Staggering Number of Hungry Kids in America." The podcast, published shortly after the live stream, got only a few clicks. Later that day, we changed the title to, "Cruz and Trump React to Brussels Attack," also a topic we discussed and the show took off. The upside, of course, is that while all of those people came to hear about the GOP clown car, they were also educated and informed about something they otherwise would have never known about. And those were only two of the topics we covered in an hour.
No one in their right mind is going to read an article at the gym, behind the wheel of a car, or while out for a jog, but they might listen to a podcast and an hour of audio is a perfect way to effectively get your point across.
As New York Magazine's Kevin Roose, points out in his article "What's Behind the Great Podcast Renaissance?":
But as I talked to podcasters, they told me that the biggest reason for the podcast renaissance has nothing to do with the podcasts themselves, or the advertisers funding them. It's actually about cars. The secret to radio's success has always been the drive-time commuter. An estimated 44 percent of all radio listening takes place in the car...
As the technology becomes more sophisticated and streaming becomes more reliable, there's a good argument for podcasting. As NPR veteran Alex Blumberg puts it:
Radio has been saved the disruption that has happened to other media. It's been frozen in time for 50 years. Now that everyone is walking around with a radio in their pocket at all times, and now that all cars are going to be connected, the form can flourish again.
The same could be said for newspapers and that people are walking around with an entire newsstand in their pocket, but to bring up numbers again, Rob Walch from hosting company "Libsyn" points out:
Blogger to podcaster ratio is roughly 1950 to 1. If you are a company with a blog covering a specific subject, typically there will be 1950 bloggers to each podcaster covering that subject. Having a blog no longer separates you from the crowd -- blogging is the crowd.
I continue to write and will hopefully continue to be published, but in the mean time I can cover more ground, more topics, and more insanity in a one-hour podcast.
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