Digital media has been around for almost my entire life. I was one of the first generations to grow up with the standard of having certain electronics such as computers and video games. However, it is also important to recognize the never-ending evolution of digital media that has provided everything from streaming services such as Netflix to dating apps such as Tinder. One of my favorite new developments of digital media are podcasts.
The first time I heard about podcasts was during my freshman year of high school. My history teacher at the time was telling us about a series named Serial. He played a small snippet of it during class which caught my attention. As soon as I went home I immediately began to search for the specific episode we had started in class. This particular season of Serial followed the case of a serial killer from Idaho that was notorious for killing all of his ex-girlfriends. Each season was centered around a different serial killer in the United States. By the end of that season and the marking period, I was hooked onto podcasts and haven’t looked back since.
When I started my initial search for Serial, I came across the podcast app available on my phone. It was then when I started giving other kinds of shows a chance. Just like iTunes, this app offered charts and a variety of categories in order to ease the search for other shows to listen too. Since then, I have also listened to shows on other apps such as Soundcloud (mainly aired local podcasts) and Spotify.
As the years passed by, I slowly began tuning in on shows such as The Bodega Boys, The Joe Budden Podcast, Tax Season, We Come From Queens, Sancocho Podcast, etc…
For the most part, these shows talk about current events and comment on everything from music to politics. The reason why I began watching a majority of these shows is because I liked the personality of the hosts of these podcasts.
For instance, the reason why I began watching The Joe Budden Podcast was because I liked watching Joe Budden and his interactions on a reality television show — Love & Hip Hop: New York. I was also exposed to Joe Buddens music at a young age, so I was automatically interested when I found out that he had a podcast in the first place. This is the case for many of the podcasts I currently listen to today.
On the other hand, I began watching Sancocho Podcast because it was hosted by some of my favorite latina comedians — Darlene Demorizi and Sasha Merci. Just like in any field, shows run and made by women, especially those of color, are often few and far between (shoutout to all of the latinas making it in the media). In this show, Dee and Sasha talk about their life and the experiences they’ve had while living in Washington Heights/Dyckman, New York. Some of the stories they tell include break-up stories and encounters with crackheads in the area (a.k.a neighbourly crackhead).
I also feel like a big reason why I enjoy listening to podcasts, particularly ones that sound like conversations, is because I used to listen to the radio a lot when during my childhood and some of my adolescence. I used to be fascinated by the flowy conversations Angie Martinez and other on-air personalities had with their guests. In many ways, podcasts are the online version of the “talk-show” segments offered on certain radio stations. A perfect example of this would be “The Breakfast Show” on Power 105.1 FM. And, with the current slow death of radio as we once knew it (at least in my opinion), it has been refreshing to see where the future of radio is going with now since podcasts have become so popular, especially recently. If one were to look back 15 years ago and predict that radio would become a dying art form, it would be preposterous to think at that point in time. In fact, even some of the biggest radio stations from around my area (New Jersey/ New York), have slowly transitioned into making their shows podcasts. Instead of just going live, many stations such as Hot 97 or Power 105.1 have opted into recording their shows and posting them on Youtube (and other streaming services such as Soundcloud) in order for people to listen to later just like what is done on Netflix and Hulu.
I have also found it interesting how many shows that have become popular on podcasts have actually led to the formation of certain television shows. After gaining so much popularity, the podcasts have gained a bigger fanbase and ultimately caught the attention of companies such as HBO or Vice which often end with contracts to start their own shows and even tours. Podcasts have easily become a career for many people. One of my favorite examples of this situation would be what happened to The Bodega Boys. Desus and Mero, hosts of the show, started their own show on Vice (a media outlet company) and eventually began hosting a late-night talk show called Desus and Mero on Showtime.
In more recent years, I’ve remained consistent with the shows I listen too with the exception of some local shows. I, myself, have even tried starting my own podcast with the help of a couple of friends… Although not successful, I have experienced the what and the how of making a podcast. I think my favorite thing about podcasting is how natural it comes across. It almost feels as if I am a part of a conversation that the hosts are having. It might be this aspect of podcasting that makes it seem like literally anyone and everyone has access to making one as long as they have a laptop or phone. In reality, anyone who can carry a conversation can ultimately make a podcast.
Digital media, and podcasting in many ways, has changed my life. I am the kind of person that walks around the quad with big headphones on and expects no one to interrupt me as I listen to music, podcasts, or videos on twitter. I wonder what things will be like in 30 years when I am 50 and it probably looks weird if I have Beat Studios on while walking on the street.