A Fly on the Wall

Combining an immersive listening experience with accurately handpicked content; podcasts grant you with the superpower to join the host and become a fly on the wall at any conversation you would like to be part of.

An unpredictable working schedule, it is usually not compatible with sitting next to the stereo, timely, when a radio show is broadcasted. Yet, I wanted to stay up to date with the live radio shows I loved.

This is how the first show popped up in my podcast player.

Next, I tapped the “Discover” tab. An entire universe opened up. An open buffet of all the shows were listed there. First, I started following more live radio shows I already liked, but on-demand. The shift to the listening pattern somehow reminded me of how Netflix made it easy to watch TV shows on-demand, but for radio.

However, as I discovered more and more shows, the whole idea of podcasting transitioned from a mere tool to listen to stuff I couldn’t catch, to an entire content platform to discover great content.

But more importantly, it was the moment I started listening to the ones “made for the medium” — not just the rebroadcasting of live shows — when the thing clicked. The “aha moment” of sorts.

But wait, why is that?

First, the audio-only medium. Despite I keep stumbling upon articles preaching about the death of radio — and how a more enriched mediums will replace it — I still have faith in its future.

The “pessimist” rationale makes sense from a feature-only perspective: video signals a leap forward from a pure technological standpoint because it adds a new dimension layer to the communication channel.

Fortunately, more does not always mean better. It is not all about content depth, but more factors play out a critical role that makes the experience nothing like TV.

  • Incomplete, in a good way: the fact that you aren’t able to see the show, forces you to imagine and recreate the story — like when reading a book.
  • Comes with you: removing one layer of depth to the medium also makes it easier to store and play. Therefore, the player itself comes with you wherever you are and the listening experience, more flexible overall.
  • Passive experience: unlike video — that demands all your attention — audio can fade and become part of the background. This makes it the perfect companion for semi-distracted activities such as walking, cooking, or driving. Opening more opportunities to engage and expanding the listening time available.

And last but not least, the intimacy, the immersion, the magic. When you combine a passive experience — plugged directly into your ears — with accurately handpicked content you identify with, you melt with the experience. An immersive experience that I’m not feeling with other mediums, in a way, you are almost there, joining the host.

There is a little confirmation bias here. But the point is that, somehow, podcasts give anybody the “superpower” to mutate and become a fly on the wall at any conversation you would like to be part of.

For example, I love founder histories. I relate to them because I’m living through it. One way to “fulfill the need” would be attending to Meetups. Listening to other’s struggles and experiences about how they got started or the challenges they faced.

Now imagine having this power, the possibility to join any founder story (or whatever you like) around the world, on demand, waiting for you, right in your pocket to be listened to.

To wrap it up, I wanted to take a moment and celebrate all the inspiring minds and talented folks that make this ecosystem happen, thrive, and contribute to it. Otherwise, without them, podcasting would stay just a static, on-demand catalogue of radio shows. Some sort of PDF file for a digital newspaper.

First published on February 08, 2014