I was a latecomer to Podcasts. I don’t think I owned a smart phone until 2013 and have never owned any Apple products. When I was travelling through Canada in 2015 I wanted a distraction for some of the longer sections of the journey and someone mentioned Podcasts.
The daft thing is I’d been listening to radio and audio books for years. I used to work as a sales rep and spent hundreds of hours a month in the car listening. Yet it had never occurred to me to download a podcast.
I got off to a good start – with an episode from This American Life which then pointed me towards Season 1 of Serial. I was hooked. I was engrossed in the style of the story telling, the mix of good journalism, story structure and emotive interviews. I’d also discovered that there was an enormous backlog of free content to download and listen to, new shows to discover, offshoots from existing shows and more. There’s a whole world in there that I didn’t even know existed.
A few months in it occurred to me that this was what I’d been looking for. Not as a listener (although I had) but as a journalist. I’d grown frustrated with the nature of working in news journalism and couldn’t see a way forward that would get me to writing and sharing the stories that were important to me. I was disappointed that the long form journalism that I loved seemed to be so niche, in any form, in the UK.
While this obsession was growing I started sharing some of the pieces with my Grandmother. She’s 93, with failing eyesight but a sharp wit and a wonderful curiousity about the world. I copied some of the episodes to CD to post to her. Then I realised that I could also record some chapters from books I’d read, or short stories. I began making recordings of some of my own writing, adding in pieces of music and learning the difference between the word on the page and in your ears.
It took a while to dawn on me that I could do this professionally, that those This American Life documentaries that I loved required a little bit of equipment, a little bit of knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm to learn along the way – That really this was the avenue for my writing that I’d been looking for for the past decade. So I’ve taken the plunge.