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Podcasts: The audible revolution

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I think I just saw a man go past me in a drone. Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but I definitely saw something. Or maybe I’m seeing things after listening to a podcast on mans’ giant steps.

Better stop listening to this one on voodoo!

My trips to work have morphed from commuter hell into a world of wonderful images and sounds that keep me sitting in the car park waiting for the final sentences with my children’s ice cream melting next to me.

My name is Jane Dutton and I am addicted to podcasts. And it is not just me. It seems the world is becoming addicted to podcasts.

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At the end of 2015, a staggering 300 000 podcasts were published online across all the various networks…itunes, Howler, Acast, Stitcher…it is hard to keep up.

Some are raking in millions of dollars a month in advertising and sponsorship. That means a lot of people are listening.

This year looks to be even better for addicts like me as this audio reaches even more people. The top podcast Serial has on average pulled in over 30 million listeners to nearly every download – that means all those people are listening to the same content at the same time, or over a week, over a treadmill or in the bath.

Why? Because it’s the best thing since radio was overtaken by tv. It’s bought sex appeal and choice back to the dial.

In fact, it’s the best of radio and you can listen to it whenever or wherever you want.  You can pause it, fast forward, rewind and play it over and over. If you are really keen you can even play it at twice the speed. If only my mind could move that fast.

I’ve been interested in podcasts ever since I had to replace rigorous boot camp training sessions for hours of monotonous walking because of a slipped disc.

Those hours of tedium have been replaced with journeys as diverse as the story of the  oldest continuously  burning lightbulb in the US to the discovery of new chakras – do you know that there are another seven lurking in your body?

It’s become what newspaper reading on the tubes in London was for me when I lived there a decade ago;  indulging at leisure over the editorials or skimming through a news briefing; I was in control then with the flick of a page and now, I can do the same.

But it’s more personal — it talks to me. And from what I’m hearing, very soon I will be able to talk back.

There’s an emotional appeal to listening made more attractive by the fact you can consume shows on demand anywhere compiling your own pictures and story in your mind.

In South Africa where I grew up – we didn’t have television until I was 12 and  then only for two hours a day – one day English first, then Afrikaans.

Our first series was Dallas, way past our bedtime – Mum and Dad would pretend not to notice me and my brother and listening from behind the sofa to the raucous conniving debauchery.

Until then and even with the backstabbing machinations on Southfork Ranch, the sounds of radio filled our lives…the DJ voices we fell in love with …the sound of a soon to be murderer shuffling down a carpet towards their unsuspecting victims..to the latest hit parade.

Now the addiction and love of sound is back but on a different scale.

Better. Faster. More choice…my own curated radio network..

Every month I will be scanning the podisphere and bringing you the very best and latest from this emerging world with a focus on Africa of course, a continent that is very often misunderstood.

There are a few I’m listening to at the moment and “ones to listen to” :

Death, Sex and Money — What a catchy title with eye-watering topics. It’s a podcast about the really important things you might be too frightened of asking, and ‘hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.’

I’ve just listened to an episode on cheating in relationships…apparently up to 50% of people do just that.  But as you can imagine, it is not as it seems

African tech roundup — hosted by African’s with a ‘focus on technology, digital and innovation highlights on the continent and beyond’. It’s a really smart show with highly entertaining comment on events that affect all of us.  Even if this world is not your thing, this show might turn you on to it.

The Read — more f*&%s in the first half hour than I could utter during an entire workout. Very funny weekly pod hosted by two friends Crissie and Kid Fury who talk about hip and pop-culture’s most colourful characters.  I gather for them, only Beyonce is out of bounds here.

Invisibilia — a long time favourite of mine – is all about the world you cannot see and the strange connections that make things happen and dictate behaviour.  Storytelling at its best.  The new season is expected to premier later this year.

Send me your tips – not just podcast but radio too.

Jane Dutton, Al Jazeera Presenter, podcast fanatic (and piloting the soon to be next big podcast on Africa)


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