2015-06-22 On Background Music

When I started listening to podcasts, I felt that there was a world of fan made audio content out there, and it was new and exciting, news for the people, by the people, on the topics I cared about. Mostly: gaming.

But then I started noticing that these people were rambling. Editing was poor. People just do not like to cut material, I guess. I felt like I was reading long and rambling blog posts. And I was. How refreshing to have professional radio programs that are live. The need to end at the exact second. And the skill these people have! Thinking Allowed. In Our Time. British progammes by the BBC. I was unhappy. Why was Switzerland not doing something similar? Why did I know more about the Royal Society than about whatever we are doing here in Switzerland?

Later I started to notice the longer podcasts by the American National Public Radio, and the Public Radio Exchange, via podcasts such as This American Life and 99% Invisible. These programs are longer. They are scripted, cut, edited; there are pauses for emphasis; and the emptiness between the words is filled by music. A background music that elevates the mere spoken words to something else. They add poetry. They push the emotional buttons. They add another layer to the stories told. I love those low hums, drones, those electronic blips and bloops. A pause. A zone. A sound.

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Thinking Allowed – what a name! But the problem I am having with podcasts is that I cannot concentrate on anything if something interesting is happening in the background. That is, any background noise does not allow me to think about my stuff. So, to me podcasts are not “Background Music“, more like main activity...

How do you handle that? Do you have some secondary brain that you are hiding?

AlexDaniel 2015-06-23 22:09 UTC


Haha, no indeed. I can only listen to podcasts while walking. Walking requires very little brain. I walk to work and back. Each leg takes a bit more than half an hour. I can listen to podcasts while doing household chores, but only when doing repetitive stuff. :)

– Alex Schroeder 2015-06-24 09:47 UTC


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