I know, I know. Podcasts are so TRENDY right now. Everybody loves Serial (season 1), or This American Life, or Radiolab. Trendy or not, there’s a reason podcasts can be such a powerful form of media.
Back in March of 2015, after three years of intense and nonstop work, I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands. So I did what any self-respecting millennial would do and planned a roadtrip. Multiple roadtrips, actually. And I quickly learned that for some reason, music was putting me to sleep while I drove. So I started listening to podcasts. And that was the beginning of a truly beautiful love story. I could see right away that there was something special about podcasts, but I didn’t have the words to articulate it. But you know who did? My buddy* Alex Blumberg.
In his Creative Live webinar, Alex B explains that audio is the medium in which you’re most likely to discern honesty (versus print or visual media). As a result, there is a powerful connection through authenticity.
Not seeing the person speaking can minimize stereotypes. The listener can automatically put themselves in the place of the speaker instead of judging based on visual cues. And listeners fill in the gaps by creating a visual of someone like themselves. Plus, when a listener creates this visual, it lasts longer than if it came from a video.
On the flip side, inauthenticity doesn’t work in audio because there are no visuals to distract you from what you’re hearing and how it is being said.
In other words:
Audio fosters empathy.
And audio is the most honest medium.
And that’s why I’ve been consuming as many podcasts as possible. My hope is to use individual episodes or clips to share specific stories, to shed light on lesser-known experiences, and to draw connections between them in a way that encourages understanding, personal growth, and appropriate action.
*Buddy is used loosely, in that we have never met, nor has he ever heard of me. I just love his endearing, self-deprecating manner and have spent far more time listening to his voice than I’ve spent with real life friends in the last couple of years.