Brief Personal History of Podcasting Influences
Surprisingly, I used to hate the thought of Podcasts. Actually, I used to hate listening to spoken word in general. They made me think of lectures. Lectures and me are not friends nor do we play nice together. You may be asking yourself how I came to start listening. It definitely didn’t start with podcasts. I have an uncle who was, for many years, a die-hard fan of Howard Stern’s radio program. For years my uncle would try and get me to listen; explaining to me how amazing and funny his show was. But, because of my distaste for the spoken word, I fought it; hard. Fast forward a few years to me getting my first vehicle that had a trial version of Sirius XM Radio included. So I gave The Howard Stern Show a try since I had nothing to lose. Much to my surprise, he wasn’t only interesting, but wildly fascinating. It was unlike anything I’ve ever listened to. Between his brilliance, wittiness, and cast of crazy characters/staffers, I got hooked almost immediately. Everyday I continued to be impressed and surprised and it turned me into a Howard Stern addict; getting anxious when I’d miss an episode. However, I still had no desire to jump into the Podcast medium. Looking back, Howard Stern is more of a paid subscription, high end Podcast than a radio show. Stern and his band of personalities held me over for a few years until I joined a new gym. Long story short, a was turned onto a “podcast” while at this gym about the style of fitness I did. This was a podcast that was also videotaped so you could watch. It is called Barbell Shrugged(BBS) and it’s all about Crossfit, Humor, Spirituality(not religion), and good times all around. It featured 3 main players: Mike Bledsoe, Chris Moore, Doug Larson. These three were the perfect blend of educated knowledge bombs, fantastic sarcasm, and good laughs. It made for an informational, humor filled show about a style of fitness I was really interested in and passionate about. The episodes included interviews with smart people in the field, motivational monologues, and a lot of fun talk about eating unhealthy food/vices. They injected so much of their personalities in this show that it was so much more than interviews and banter. They really loved what they were doing and it showed in all the laughs they had and ribbing they did with each other. I slowly started to realize I wasn’t necessarily so against spoken word when it was presented to me in a way that was conversational and funny at the same time. Now I had Stern and BBS at my helm yet, I wasn’t interested in anything else. I felt content getting the brilliance and comedy from Stern + fitness humor from BBS was more than enough. This held me over for a while as I increasingly got more sucked into this world of information, comedic spoken word. Eventually a friend at my gym tried to turn me onto a podcast called The Joe Rogan Experience. His claims were that Rogan’s show featured information that would blow my mind and keep me entertained for hours ranging from fitness to self actualization to great humor. I figured what’s to lose so I tuned in to an episode; or at least I tried. Not sure why, but I couldn’t get into it. It was more of a conversation with him and his guests and apparently I wasn’t ready for it. So I bailed and went back to my comfort zone. Some time later a manager at one of my jobs wouldn’t stop gushing over how brilliant Rogan was and how information packed his episodes were. He claimed he constantly was learning new stuff after every episodes and he had really amazing comedy stand up acts on which injected all the humor into it. I then decided, stop being stubborn and give it another shot. I scrolled through Rogans episode list; which spanned over 800 episodes in the past few years; and found an episode where he was talking to Whitney Cummings. I was a big fan of Whitney Cummings both because she was very funny and quite beautiful. Also, she’s been on Stern multiple times which is where I knew her from. 20 minutes into the episode, I was sold. I just needed the right bait to get me to listen, and once I was hooked, he reeled me right into the boat. They were discussing all of these topics about human evolution and how our minds are mirrors to that of an earlier version of man. How we have all these new stimulus that the prior man didn’t have like cell phone screens and social media that are clogging up our head and affecting biological processes in us ranging from sleep issues, to mental addictions. They had me. I’ve always been an inner thinker trying to play self therapist and figure out why I do the things I do or think the way I think. I’ve been into trying to optimize my mind for a while and determine what things in my life were holding me back in various areas. I’ve since recommended this episode to anybody who is interested in these topics and the idea of being a very deep, inner thinker such as myself. Rogan is a wildly curious person and you can tell by how far down the rabbit hole he goes when he talks about a topic of interest to him. I now added Rogan to my list of addictions and I was officially a Podcast enthusiast in constant search of other podcasts that would really engage my mind in ways I wasn’t getting from real life interactions. The last huge name I added to this list was Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast. I’ve been a solid fan of Burr’s stand up comedy specials for years; always claiming he’s among the top brilliant comedians. A friend of mine turned me onto his podcast claiming it’s just Burr talking into a microphone, complaining about things that irritate him, but with the same comedic sense that he would on stage. Again, I listened and was sold. Burr his a delivery and wittiness to his banter that is unrivaled by anybody else. He has zero guests, not much of any editing, and doesn’t go over one hour on his episodes. He really just talks about what he’s done in the past few days and upcoming standup shows. But he is so mentally quick that he can say the most outrageous things at the snap of a finger. The rest is really history. I’ve added tons of podcasts to my bank including topics such as video game news, comedians, informational podcasts, life hacking, and more. It then became time for me to venture into creating my own. What would I even talk about? I have no following or any idea at all if I could hold a conversation with myself; which leads me to the next step of why I’m choosing to podcast.
Podcasts Are A Great Storytelling Vehicle
There’s a general theme to the way I podcast and to the podcasts that interest me the most. It’s the idea of using the podcast as a vehicle to tell a story about yourself. It is not scripted and it is not rehearsed. It is off the cuff, organically spoken, and a stream of consciousness. My top three favorites noted already; Stern, Burr, Rogan; all, use a microphone to talk through their thoughts. They talk to the mic like they would talk to another person; and in Rogan’s case, he does talk to other people. I find them to be three individuals who look for greater meanings in absolutely everything and like to explore the why’s and how’s of things. They flesh out ideas and are sometimes even surprised by what they come up with. To me, this takes a substantial amount of self awareness, humility, and curiosity. I look up to people with great reverence who are able to dig deep and really talk. There is no plan beyond maybe having a general idea on where they want to start and just let the narrative go where it goes. There are other styles of podcasts that take a different approach. They would be scripted, rehearsed, narratives. Podcasts like Serial or This American Life which are highly rated, if not top tier recordings that come to mind; they’re just not for me. I do not like listening to the sound of somebody reading a script. There is no feeling or heart into it and I’m bored very early on. The subject matter is irrelevant whether it appeals to me or not, if they are reading it from a page. I like to see how thought develops on the fly because I’m attracted to wittiness, quickness, brilliance with the way they carry their words. I like to think deep myself but currently only have one outlet that effectively gets my thoughts out the way I’m thinking them. That is blogging. I’ve found over the past 2 years of Graduate School and multiple assignments involving writing blog posts in my own “voice,” that I have an ability to write creatively about myself and my life or topics of general interest to me. I don’t see that as a self-absorbed or selfish feeling either. And I don’t always consider every topic I can blog about to be related to me specifically. It’s more having the ability to write in a way that mirrors the way I’d say something to somebody in person. Stream of conscious, writing about topics. I don’t like to be formatted or held to any specific writing style. I purely like to write like I would talk. Building a running dialogue only seems natural to me if I’m able to speak on the fly. Trying to write things down tends to not feel so natural as it allows for editing and too much focus is put on perfection. When so much thought goes into carving a thought down to what would be considered “ideal,” it takes mental effort away from the point to the idea in general. I know I’m not a great verbal communicator, so to hear other people be able to speak efficiently, with no script, I am immediately drawn in due to my desire to emulate that some day. In short, podcasting is a vehicle for personal storytelling, open narrative, stream of consciousness. Being able to tell your story can have endless therapeutic effects since it allows you to get stuff out opposed to holding it in. It allows you to really examine your life, almost like meditation, and come to personal conclusions about things. I feel that everyone can be a deep thinker, but not everyone takes the time to ask the why’s and how’s to things. Not everyone is self aware or curious. Being able to tell your story opens up curiosities in the mind and get you to start asking all those questions. While I’m working on improving my ability to connect my thought process to my speech, I’m also trying to narrow the gap between how I blog with how I talk. I blog how I organically think and write stuff out as it comes into my head. Podcasting is my next step where I can tell my story verbally the same way I think it, as I think it. I’m getting there after a few episodes so far. And sometimes I feel like my Podcasting is surpassing my blogging due to there being zero delay between thought and speech opposed to the time it takes me to type what I’m thinking. I can get side tracked easier while typing because the time it takes. But, whether the topic be venting, excitement, disappointment, fear, talking about my day, making people laugh, whatever; podcasting as a way to story tell with on the spot thought process fascinates me and is what I wish to achieve. I have so much to say and having to limit that verbally due to a lack of ability to get the words out right is very frustrating. I’m a poor story teller in person. I lose the details as I’m trying to say them which ends up ruining the narrative and makes me sound foolish and weak. When I’m allowed to write my thoughts out, I become much more clear and concise.
Helping Me To Be A Better Communicator
I’ve always felt that strongly that I am a great thinker. I tend to dwell on topics of interest or concern; whether it be in a positive or negative light. As mentioned above, I gravitate towards deep thought and trying to find the “why’s” or, “how’s” in life as it pertained to my life. How can I get better sleep or more energy during my days? How can I optimize my strength or recovery quicker from workouts? Why did I say that offensive thing to so and so? I ask myself so many questions that all I do is try and think of the answers. Due to all of this inner/deep thinking, I frequently stumble upon what I like think as insightful and intelligent thoughts. I find myself coming to conclusions on things that surprise me. Thinking seems to be a strong suit of mine. But, if you asked me to tell you what my thoughts are, I almost freeze in a way. The second I go from just thinking about something, to have to both think about it and say it the way it’s in my head, I lose track of my thought process and I can’t get it out. That’s a big problem to me. I want people to know my deep thoughts but have no way to convey the message to them the way I would hope. This is probably why I gravitate towards comedians. They can both have intelligent thoughts and deliver them efficiently. So when I listen to Rogan, Stern, and Burr regurgitate their inner dialogue in such a clean and thoughtful way, I get very envious and want to achieve that ability. Aside from professional comedians, any person I know in my life who has a “way with words” or can even say things that make you think strongly about any given topic, fascinates me. If I could just be able to speak the exact way I think, I could really appreciate my mind a lot more. And who knows, maybe others could too. So that being said, a huge motivation of doing my own podcast in essence, is a way for me to practice delivering my own inner dialogue without having to stress about who’s hearing it and responding in real time. Episode one of my podcast Life Of Chenz (LOC) was a train wreck for sure. I was struggling to maintain thought. I strained to keep the dialogue moving with awkward pauses. And mostly, finding my voice was a problem. I have so many influences that it seems like I was trying to be them all; which caused big problems in a later episode. I really don’t know my voice like other people do. I don’t necessarily mean the sound of my voice, but also my delivery. I surprised myself the way I spoke and felt it was so unnatural sounding in playback. This realization sealed the deal for me in my desire to practice communicating better. I knew this was an appropriate project to examine both as a way to explore a new medium and information technology, and as a way to improve a personal trait that I can take with me through my whole life. I’ve listened to all my episodes and notice vast, MASSIVE improvements from episode 1 to episode 4. I’ve received feedback from listeners that it’s night and day. And in my own personal life I see myself being able to have deeper conversations and ask more thoughtful questions of people; which gets them to think deeply too. This is a great feeling when I’m into a conversation with someone who’s talking about something upsetting for them and I’m able to go past the expected “oh i’m so sorry I hope that works out for you’s”. I can ask more personal questions about motives or what-if’s, or possibly give suggestions on why a certain thing might be happening or what they can do about it. Overall I can be more engaged in a conversation and build a deeper connection. I’m becoming more curious about things that get me to want to talk and ask questions when I was much more closed off before. One part of my communicate that I really wanted to work on was my ability to vent. I hold way too much in that bothers me and really have a tough time talking about it with people. Could I actually experience less stress and anxiety if I were able to talk about my problems instead of holding them in?
A Great Way To Vent
As stated above, I have a wealth of thoughts spinning around in my head. While there are frequent insightful ones, there’s just as many if not more, frustrated and/or upsetting ones. It seems the older that I get and the more responsibilities I tack on to my agenda, the more irritable and anxious I get. These topics that seem to now bug me, are not things that got to me in my younger years. So, it seems I’m in for a long life of venting. But as discussed, I’m not great at voicing my thoughts. So while I’m working on “practicing my speech delivery with podcasting, I’m also giving myself a way to vent. The great thing about venting on a podcast, is you don’t have to worry about irritating or burning out a person you’d be talking to in real life. From my experience, people tend to tune out after you’ve complained about something a bit too long. I know I do! But if you’re a highly anxious person and have no outlet to “take the garbage out,” you become very pent up and your health starts to suffer; whether that be mental or physical. Doing menial tasks like walking a dog that likes to tug becomes a battle when it doesn’t have to be. Or juggling two jobs, a house, a dog, grad school, and a lofty gym schedule tends to lead to a couple meltdowns; in my experience. Venting can be very therapeutic and should be utilized by anybody who’s high strung. Not everyone can afford a professional to talk to or have a ton of free time to even see one if they did. For me, being able to scream obscenities, be funny, and say really outrageous things helps me to get the poison out. At first it wasn’t working, being so focused on just trying to talk with nobody on the other end of my voice to respond. But, after I started getting comfortable talking to nobody, I realized I was able to really say what was on my mind without straining. My voice calmed down, my tension eased, and I could finally get out my negative thoughts with no embarrassment or judgement coming back on me. If I can keep improving at venting through Podcasting and communicating in person to people as a whole, who knows, I might just find myself less stressed and less anxious. So why Podcast to vent? To be happier so you don’t take things out on people and make them miserable or upset. Misery shouldn’t love company; but it does.
DIY Component Interests
I am becoming more curious about things as I grow older. It started with dieting. I broke from the traditional “eat less, lose more” trends and looked at eating what the body responded to best. This meant removing all processed foods and mostly everything that was packaged and switching over to raw foods that needed prepping. Over the course of months/years, I realized I enjoyed making my own food and finding ways to make healthier versions of almost anything that could be purchased already packaged. I felt some sort of vague pride that I was taking the time and effort to do this manual process. I like the way it looks from the outside. This is just one example of a manual process that I’ve latched onto. There’s been many more in my past even including crocheting and making bracelets. I’m a DIY’er at heart. My most recent big DIY was learning how to sand down, re-stain, and poly 850sq ft of wall to wall flooring in a house I bought. I think it’s just something that’ll always be a part of me now that I realized my deep curiosity.
So, when it came time to think about Thesis subjects, I only knew 2 things: I would rather do a project than write a paper, and I want to do it on something that actually interested me so that I’d have a high probability of actually trying hard on it. So what are things that I enjoy that I a) don’t know how to do and b) have the ability to learn at home; that both have to do with Information Design? PODCASTING! Heck, all I really needed was a microphone (which honestly is already built into my computer if I didn’t want to spend money) and an editing program (which conveniently was also already inside my computer; GarageBand). So with the idea that I enjoy learning how to do stuff that could’ve already been done for me and that Podcasts are a really large interest of mine from the listening perspective, it seemed like a no brainer that I could dive in head first with the topic. I had no idea what to do other than record my voice and find a way for people to hear it. Sounds simple right? I now had the opportunity, and most importantly the necessity, to learn how to make one on my own; just like all of these other things I learned outside of school. The actual process of creating and implementing a podcast is incredibly easy; after you get your first couple reps out of the way that is. It’s actually a long process to learn all of the steps. It takes a lot of research and patience to find the right sources to tell you what to do. And not only do, but do correctly. There were many sources that were of no help whatsoever and really wasted my time. That’s all part of the research process though; compiling valuable resources and discounting worthless sources. So how did I actually create my media package?