January 18, 2015

Horse 1824 - Why I Probably Won't Do A Podcast

I was asked by someone at a place where I was doing some work "if you write so much, how come you don't do a podcast?"
Notwithstanding that you need a heap of audio gear (which I don't have) in order to do a podcast: most of the podcasts that exist are generally of the sort where two people witter on, back and forth to each other; about some general overarching topic. One of the defining things about such a series of conversations is that you need at least two people and ideally I'd want the podcast to last between about three to five years; I'm just not sure that I could convince that many people to commit to a long term project like that.

The other thing which I'm convinced of that you need for a podcast (and indeed any audio project) is a nice speaking voice. From a purely technical perspective, I am six feet tall; with a 6 7/8 size head and In consequence, I have a speaking voice which sounds tinny at the best of times and almost Mancunian at the worst. I also have a distinct nasal whine which I imagine is as pleasant to listen to as a cockatoo version of Aida. Mind you, if there was some crazy individual out there who does want to arrange a cockatoo version of Aida, I'd be interested to hear from you. .
People often say that you sound different when you hear a recording of yourself. This in itself is not an issue for me because I already think that I sound horrible; so it might be a matter of public decency that I don't do a podcast.

Having said that, I do not think that I'd run out of material for a podcast. If I've written more than 1800 of these posts, then I think I've proven that I can generate as much banal drivel as the next person. Yes, it might be a more grammatically correct pile of polysyllabic drivel but you still can't make a silken purse from a sow's ear after the horse has bolted and you've hit the cat out of the bag for six. Being able to write is not the same as being able to deliver a sound that people want to hear, no matter how good the material might be. Good writing doesn't always translate into good audio - that's why professional voice actors exist. If you want proof of this, on Audible.com there is an audiobook of Patrick Stewart reading Dickens's "A Christmas Carol". After you listen to that, you might wish to consider permanently blocking your ears with polyfiller, for you will never hear anything so brilliant ever again - believe me.

As far as subject matter goes, I'm not sure what I'd talk about either. Probably things like politics, sport, science, history, literature (so more of the same) but not the arts or the world of entertainment. In the game of Trivial Pursuit which I think is something of a trivial pursuit itself, the brown and pink cheeses of Art & Literature and Entertainment always seem to allude me because although I could care less* about these subjects, I fail to see how.. When I'd first heard the name Lady Gaga for instance, I wondered what she did to deserve her place in the Queen's New Years' honours list or whether she had inherited a peerage or not. It turns out that she's not even a Professor or a Doctor; me thinks that Lady Gaga is trying to pull the same stunt as Lord Monckton.
The news cycle is often a great jumping off point to commence swimming in the seas of drivel. There are lots of news sites though and so I don't know how I'd contribute anything even remotely new or worthwhile. Again, professional journalists and newsreaders should be able to provide better content than I can.

There's always the issue of publishing a podcast as well. Once you have your audio file, you'd need to edit and proof it; making sure that there isn't a terrible amount of crackle and hiss, as well as scratching out most of the verbal tics like the 'ums' and 'ahs'. You'd be surprised at how many 'ums' and 'ahs' people unconsciously emit. In live radio, people will forgive you for the verbal splottage but in a pre-recorded piece, I just don't think that they're that forgiving.
I've given lectures and talks and I'm consciously aware that I speak way too quickly and so I'll even add pauses and directives to slow down in the notes. I don't know if people doing a podcast or live radio make these sort of notes but I suspect that certainly for people on the radio, they'll employ voice coaches to train them to speak better.

If someone out there for some hither to unknown reason wants me to do a podcast with them, then I suppose I'd acquiesce but until then, you're just going to have to make do with a stream of text on a screen.
It's really weird you know, for millennia the words that people spoke just disappeared into the ether upon the moment they were uttered. It is the written word which has survived the ages and there's just something about text which not even the radio or a podcast can not capture.
Travelling at the speed of text allows you to see more of the scenery of the mind than moving at the speed of sound or the speed of light. Could it be I just like moving more slowly?

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