In defense of the Podcast

Many people lament the “boring” nature of podcasts. They say things like, “No one wants to listen to a 45 year old nerd from Brooklyn drone on and on about intersections of internet culture and philosophy! That’s super dorky! What am I, a nerd?!?” And to that I say: “I do! I want to listen to PJ Vogt from Reply All discussing the underground networks of guerrilla SnapChat hackers!! Oh please Mr. Brooklynite geek, take me on a voyage into a seedy Discord server where materialistic teenage boys flex the expensive watches they buy with the money they make from selling accounts with rare names!!” Does that sound boring to you? It’s really quite fascinating. 

Maybe that makes me a deeply boring person. I don’t think so, though. I think it makes me a busy person who wants to learn about strange things. I don’t enjoy reading non-fiction (I find it dreadfully boring, and I don’t have the attention span nor the free-time to watch documentaries, so podcasts are the perfect way to feed my hungry, hungry brain in its endless quest to learn. If I didn’t listen to podcasts about strange niche subjects, how would I have random tidbits of information to pull out of a hat at any given time when I want to sound smart? Don’t you want to be able to do that? 

Did you know that the incel movement was started by a socially awkward lesbian who just wanted to make a forum for people to discuss their frustrations with the complexities of dating? Did you know most local locksmiths that show up on Google Maps are scammers and they’ll just immediately drill your lock without a second glance, causing the need for thousands of dollars of work to be done? Did you know any of that? Bet you didn’t, because you don’t listen to cool podcasts like I do. You’re not an intellectual, it’s okay. It’s not for the faint of ear, it’s okay.

There are so many wonderful podcasts to listen to. If you have an interest, there is undoubtedly a podcast about it. No matter how aggressively niche you think the interest is, somewhere out there is another wise soul who took mic to mouth and uploaded a treasure trove of particular information to set your spirit at ease. And if you don’t have a particular interest in mind, there are plenty of podcasts that cover varieties of subjects. There’s This American Life and Radiolab, for the socially conscious who don’t like watching the news. If you like interviews and entertainment check out WTF with Marc Maron. There’s even fictional podcasts that play out like old radio shows from the pre-television era.

I must admit, I didn’t always like podcasts. I used to think they were all cringe-worthy conversations about dating and stock trading, made exclusively by 35 year olds who pretend they’re simultaneously billionaire businessmen and rowdy frat boys. The truth is, this is a real problem in the podcast industry. The market for financial and romantic advice from the average Joe is highly, highly saturated with total misogynistic nonsense. I don’t care about crypto, and I’m never going to employ the strategy of “negging” to get a girl’s number. I have something called, “a brain,” which I use to do something called, “have empathy.” But we cannot let these few freaks who keep going viral on TikTok for having dating advice that parallels that of an AI exclusively fed clips from MTV’s Big Brother and the worst of what Reddit has to offer diminish the beauty that the true, genuine podcasts have to offer. They’re just like radio shows, they can be a truly beautiful, informative, and immersive form of art, you just need to have the right intentions and the right vessel.