1.) They Are Personal
I remember sitting in my mom’s car, killing her battery, to finish listening to the newest episode of This American Life, back when it was only available as a radio program. Ira Glass and all of his guests were sharing their stories with ME, and I was captivated. I often have the same feeling when when I pop my headphones in to listen to a podcast. Even though many others may be tuned in at the same moment, it gives me the opportunity to feel like I’m having a personal encounter. There is something visceral about hearing a person speak their story into life, share advice, or provide witty commentary. Even with great editing and an award-winning production team, one can rarely fully edit out the tone in a speaker’s voice. Excitement, tension, hesitation, pride–these come out loud and clear in a way that isn’t always detectable in a blog post. Don’t get me wrong, written word will never cease to be one of my favorite forms of communication, but I still vie to see my favorite writers speak live or hear them interviewed (on a podcast!?). I would still like to be a fly on the wall while they brainstorm aloud, or better yet join them for coffee and conversation. Now I can get endless hours of this intimate content, with interesting people, on demand.
2) They Are Radically Uncensored
I realize this is occasionally controversial, but I’m thrilled the option exists. Podcasts allow for unbridled content–scarcely controlled or edited by anyone but the host/producers. While the internet hasn’t left many stones unturned in terms of uncensored content, podcasts offer up what cannot always be discussed on public media streams such as radio and television. I love that people can feel empowered to speak their mind and find an audience that loves engaging, without the worry of needing approval from a network with a diverse and potentially easily offended listener base. If you find yourself unamused by something being shared in a podcast, it’s as easy as hitting the next button and finding a personality, tone, and topic that better matches your interests.
3) They Can Make You Smarter
Many podcasters aim to share with you what is important to them and what lights them up. Some podcasts are even geared specifically toward teaching you a new skill or covering a topic extensively, while some just allow you to be privy to new interesting information in much the same way that having a conversation with someone might. There is a whole world of learning to be had out there, and you can digest it all while accomplishing something else in your day. Driving? Exercising? Cooking dinner? You now have the chance to learn about new topics, in depth, at the click of a button, or at least pick up some good cocktail party conversation starters. (Are cocktail parties still a thing? Quick, someone make an episode about it.)