In China, a Podcast Inspired by ‘This American Life’ Gives Voice to the Real

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Taking inspiration from American programs like “This American Life” and WNYC’s “Snap Judgment,” Mr. Kou’s “Gushi FM” (Story FM in English) features stories told in the first person by ordinary Chinese of various backgrounds.

The show highlights stories from both the margins and the mainstream of society. They are tales of loneliness, heartbreak, adventure, betrayal, love, loss and the absurd — stories of a kind not often publicly shared in this age of so-called humblebrag social media.

Why it’s vital to switch that podcast off occasionally and let yourself get bored

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It has become part of my daily routine to slip headphones on as I leave the front door. I don’t take them off until I reach my destination, unless I’m buying something in a shop or giving directions – as the writer Lucy Prebble has remarked, “taking off headphones is the new removing your hat”. I sometimes listen to music, but mainly I listen to talk.

Perhaps the biggest cost, though, is that I’m listening to myself less. When I’m riveted by the narrative of a real-life murder mystery, my thoughts don’t wander, and it’s only when thoughts are allowed to wander that they become interesting.

Whitney Phillips explains how Trump controls the media

Description of this podcast episode:

Here’s a fun fact: The best training for understanding the president’s media strategy is to have studied internet trolls for years and years.

Okay, maybe that fact wasn’t so fun. Maybe it’s incredibly depressing.

At any rate, Whitney Phillips did exactly that. She was one of the earliest scholars of online trolling (yes, that’s a job). She was studying trolling when it was a tiny sideshow. And she was there, studying it, as online trolling got amplified by algorithmic platforms and a click-hungry media. As Gamergate made it a political movement. Then, most importantly, she was there, watching, as the media manipulation tactics that she had seen perfected by the trolls became the playbook for how Trump controls the media’s agenda, and the national conversation.

How Podcasts Became a Seductive—and Sometimes Slippery—Mode of Storytelling

Excerpt from New Yorker this article:

Podcasting is a peculiarly intimate medium. Usually transmitted through headphones to a solitary listener, or played over the car stereo during a commute, an audio narrative can be immersive in a way that a radio playing in the background in a kitchen rarely is. Podcasts are designed to take up time, rather than to be checked, scanned, and rushed through: they are for those moments when you can’t be scrolling on your phone. For a digital medium, podcasts are unusual in their commitment to a slow build, and to a sensual atmosphere. At the conference table, people were eager to discuss ways in which audio could deepen the story, as well as the visceral experience of the listener.

Podcasts Are the New Xanax

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Unlike the time sink of binge-watching a TV series, podcasts actually made me more efficient. Practically every dull activity—folding laundry, applying makeup—became tolerable when I did it while listening to a country singer describing his hardscrabble childhood, or a novelist defending her open marriage.

…Last summer, I discovered the most important advantage of podcasts over people: You can doze off in the middle of a podcast conversation without offending anyone.

We need an internet of unmonetisable enthusiasms

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We should be cheered that these deep pools of detail are emerging in podcasting. It’s been around since 2004, after all, maybe this exploration of qualities other than surface and scale is what happens in a mature digital medium. I’m looking forward to Deep Twitter and The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire on Snapchat.

Podcasting Is the New Soft Diplomacy

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The idea, she explained over lunch this week, is simple. Haultain always maintained a relationship with America. For decades, that relationship was forged through watching The Wire and reading books like The Art of Fielding and stacking up back issues of The New Yorker next to her bedside. Haultain’s husband and daughter can recite every line from the Australia episode of The Simpsons.

But around the time Donald Trump announced he was running for president, podcasts began to elbow their way into that relationship. These days, the person explaining the wonders and outrages of America is as likely to be New York Times podcast host Michael Barbaro as it is Homer Simpson.

“I listen to The Daily,” Haultain said. “I listen to Up First on NPR. I listen to Trumpcast. I listen to Ezra Klein on Vox. I listen to Mike Pesca on The Gist. Then I have a whole bunch of historical ones. I just listened to Slow Burn on Slate.”

She has also listened to This American Life, Serial, and the Bela Lugosi–Boris Karloff episodes of You Must Remember This.

Haultain works for an Australian foundation that focuses on legal issues, so her media diet can’t be totally American. She listens to local news while riding the light rail to work each morning. But on the way home — and at night, and on weekends — the voices in her ears are Barbaro’s and Pesca’s and Steve Inskeep’s.

Meet the People Who Listen to Podcasts at Super-Fast Speeds

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Meet the podfasters, a subset of podcast obsessives who listen to upward of 50 episodes a week, by, like Kenny, listening extremely fast. They’re an exclusive group: According to Marco Arment, creator of the Overcast podcast app, only around 1% of Overcast listeners use speeds of 2x or higher. (An app called Rightspeed, which costs $2.99, allows you to listen at up to 10x.)

Podcast consumers listen to an average of five podcasts per week, according to a recent study, which seems like a nice, manageable number: enough time to listen to a true crime podcast or two, a long comedy podcast, maybe a dash of politics. But for some people, that’s just not enough: Over 20% of podcast consumers listen to more than six per week, and podfasters — well, they listen to a lot more…

You could read these tendencies as a symptom of our sped-up culture, of a listening population too impatient or distracted to listen to anything for longer than, say, half an hour. But also, in the same way that peak TV and streaming has led to a culture of bingeing shows, we’re now in peak podcast — there are a lot of good shows, and not enough time to listen to them.

But in conversations with people who listen at speeds higher than 2x, it became clear that many podfasters are above all, completists. That is, they have an almost obsessive need to listen to every episode of a podcast that they decide to commit to.


Speed listening — efficient, blasphemous or just nutty?

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That’s why I’m an enthusiastic user of the accelerated playback option for podcasts and audiobooks. Modern digital compression software allows me to listen to, say, an hourlong episode of “This American Life” in just 30 minutes, with the pitch of the voices normalized to eliminate the “chipmunk” effect. I can now listen to a book as fast as I can read it.

Listening at double speed — the 2x setting on your device — gives me all the information and entertainment in half the time. And it gives me an extra half-hour in which I can enjoy more podcasts, read, watch TV, practice the fiddle or chat with my wife, Johanna — a conversation sure to be pleasant as long as I avoid this particular topic.

Johanna knows very well how meticulously the producers of many of today’s best podcasts work on pacing their shows, carefully mixing the audio elements for maximum effect. And to paraphrase her argument, she considers 2x-ing them to be as artistically blasphemous as 2x-ing a symphony or speed-reading a poem. You miss so much!

Yes, I counter, but you miss even more when you listen at 1x because of all the podcasts you never have time to hear because you’re … sitting through … dramatic … pauses.