I’ve just listened to a couple of episodes about the workings of the Supreme Court in the seven-part podcast series, More Perfect. The series is the first spin-off from the Radio Lab folks at WNYC Studios. The host is Jad Abumrad, the founder and co-host of Radio Lab. (Did I mention Abumrad, a MacArthur Fellow, is a Nashville native?)
If you are familiar with the production approach of Radio Lab, you’ll recognize how the podcast episodes are edited with layering approaches that are like those you’d hear in recorded music, not spoken word reporting. This is a signature of Abumrad, who majored in music at Oberlin College and, well, have I mentioned he’s a native of a place that has the nickname, Music City?
The episodes are also filled with parenthetical conversations that allow Abumrad to interject questions to the reporter right at a point where the listener may be getting a bit confused. “I can’t believe I’m hearing you say that,” Abumrad says at one point when the show’s lawyer explains a way in which the legal system works.
According to the show’s website, “More Perfect, dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated inside hallowed halls affect lives far away from the bench….More Perfect bypasses the wonkiness and tells stories behind some of the court’s biggest rulings.”
Another thing to check out are the episode pages for the way in which they provide and organize links related to all aspects of the podcast. Well done. Here’s the page for one of the episodes I heard.
I’ve written before about my fascination with contextual content (the hows, whys, data, background and how-tos) — as much as I am fascinated with the chronological content we news and info-junkies plug in to. The BBC is a great example of a vast media empire that uses its resources to add context — history programming, for example — into its constant flow of current news.
For example, here is a factoid I just learned on “The Why Factor” episode about music.
According to research conducted by Spotify,the generational difference in music preference between Millenials and Baby Boomers boils down to Skrillex vs. Roy Orbison. (Meaning, the music you’d least likely find any overlap among people who are teenagers vs. 60+.)
I’m convinced (but I’ll note I’m in neither camp):
Some of you may find this week’s Hammock Idea Email interesting. At the insistence of some pesky editors, I left out lots of the 10,000+ words I once wrote about podcasting. Also, as we like to keep these emails to 300 words, those editors suggested that my discussion of the difference in podcasting and streaming audio would (1) go over people’s heads, or (2) cause them to doze off (3) doesn’t matter to the people who read Idea Email. They also insisted that another tangent on the difference between Paul Saffo’s macro-myopia and Gartner’s Hype Cycle was equally un-riveting. Note: None of those editors review what I write on RexBlog — which explains a lot about the ramblings here.
Here’s how it starts — with a link to the rest of it.
Amara’s Law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
—Roy Amara (1925–2007), Stanford Research Institute
Just as conventional wisdom was in the process of writing off podcasting, it is suddenly this year’s “it” media. Two weeks ago, The New York Times joined The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, NPR and other media companies to announce the creation of a team focused entirely on developing podcasts.
At the same time, NPR, Spotify, Audible.com and others have launched a new generation of mobile apps that pre-select and stream topic-specific podcasts. (Listeners typically download and play podcasts using “podcatchers” like Apple’s Podcast app and Stitcher.)
This is the post where I am officially joining the quickly-expanding fan club of Serial (Website | iTunes), the new audio podcast spin-off from Ira Glass’s public radio program, This American Life.
It joins Chicago’s WBEZ’s incredible lineup of podcasts that are setting a high standard for the production and distribution of media that are opening eyes (but more importantly, ears) for a coming revival of audio programming unmatched since the golden age of radio (which I’m not old enough to recall personally, despite rumors to the contrary).