Podcasts: The End of the Visual Medium?

Written by Rachel Pope
Photograph by Aida Farrokh Ebrahimi

This past Thursday night the Overture Center hosted the sold-out Pod Save America tour of Crooked Media’s “Pod Save” series. Later in October, on the 20th and 21st, My Favorite Murder podcast will be at the Orpheum for multiple performances. These are just two examples of the many podcasts that are touring America and recording live in front of an audience, which indicates the growing popularity of the auditory medium.

There are podcasts on almost anything and everything you can think of, from sports to music, movies to science, all ends of the political spectrum, and to lifestyle and beyond. Even many news sources have created their own podcasts and are starting to adapt their content from digital and print editions to auditory, virtual ones that can be consumed in five to ten minutes on the way to work or school.

 

Podcasts are different than other forms of media because they are not intended to be visual. Although some podcasts have videos related to them, podcasts are generally just auditory. This comes with positives: you can listen to a podcast while reading, walking, or doing numerous other activities. You can’t do the same when you read a book, newspaper, or article, as it requires all your attention to be focused on what is at hand. However, the drawback is that you aren’t seeing the podcasters and have to judge their authenticity, or lack thereof, based on a voice.

This is part of the reason, I believe, that going to see a recording of an episode is so fun and intriguing — you actually get to see what the hosts look like. I recently went to a live recording of Nerdette Recaps Game of Thrones with Peter Segal in Chicago, and most of the fun was putting a face to the mysterious voice. Sure, you can look up the person and get an idea, but there is something deeper you encounter when you are able to see see their facial expressions and mannerisms that are lost on the auditory podcast.

While we’re still at a point in society where most of us are visual learners and enjoy the opportunity to go see a recording live, perhaps evolution will start to favor those who are auditory learners and who thrive off of listening solely to podcasts.