Sometimes it feels as if I am the only person in the known world not listening to the mould-breaking podcast Serial. I’m not. In fact only about 1.5 million people downloaded the show each week, but that still broke all records for a podcast. One reason I didn’t subscribe is that I’m listening to so much else already that unheard episodes would just pile on the guilt, and one of those other shows I listen to gave me a peculiar, vicarious thrill this morning. Enough of a thrill to rouse me from my blogging torpor.
StartUp – “A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one” – has captivated me from episode one. Alex Blumberg, a great broadcaster whom I’ve listened to for years on Planet Money, has been telling the story of how he left a secure gig to start a podcasting company. In the episode I’ve just heard, he introduced the first show signed to the company. It was a good moment, seeing his hard work, the interesting bits of which he has shared, result in something audible. And that something was a reincarnation of tl;dr, another fine show that I’ve listened to for a long time. A couple of episodes back StartUp credited tl;dr’s hosts, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, with editing help, or something, and I thought, “Ahah, I wonder whether …” And yes, they’ve jumped ship. Their new show is called Reply All and from the teaser I just heard on StartUp, I’ll be subscribing to that too.
This is not, by the way, about how my taste in podcasts is validated by the best brains in the business. Even though Criminal, another show I listen to, has been snapped up by Radiotopia, another podcast network, most of which I don’t currently listen to. It is a little bit about envy. I wish I had the time and the gumption to make more of my own podcasting, get it to pay its way, maybe get snapped up by some network or other. More, it is about how the world of podcasting is maturing and becoming a thing somewhat independent of actual radio, although one notable fact about almost all the shows I like is that the people making them cut their teeth in “proper” radio. I like this development because it gives me more choice in the things I want to listen to, even if it leaves me less time for mould-breaking wondershows.