I have to confess: I am not a podcast person. I am totally guilty of the hefty “Can’t Pay Attention to Any Online Content Longer than 30-60 Seconds” charge waged against my fellow members of Gen Z. Every time I have tried to get into a podcast, I begin listening to what the hosts are talking about, go down a winding thought path on whatever subject the hosts were discussing, and by the time I mentally tune back in, the hosts have moved on and I have to go back to where I began daydreaming. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like podcasts, per se. I so desperately wish that I could be a podcast person. When a friend approaches me with “I was listening to X podcast and…” or “have you heard Y podcast?”, I shrivel up a little in shame. I want to be a podcast person. I want to be a podcast person not only because there are a lot of cool podcasts out there, but also because the podcast, as a form of media production, carries a level of intellectual sophistication that I think can be applied to the realm of scholarly production.
If we think about podcasting as a narrative method, how does it apply to the work of scholars? As laid out by Michael J. Altman in the article Podcasting Religious Studies, podcasts, while a form of digital media, is different from other online content due to its asynchronous production for a niche audience. Podcasts make money not just from clicks, but from developing a loyal listener base who will continue to give clicks. I think it is this catering to a hyper-specific listener base that makes the podcast form an easy way to transduce scholarly media. Not only is the podcast form an effective way of transducing scholarly production, I think I would go so far as to say it would be a necessary development if scholarly endeavors are to survive in the digital realm.
I want to look at the accessibility of podcasts as a reason why more scholars should use the form. Podcasting seems, at first glance, to provide accessibility where other forms of scholarly production do not. If a monograph is the source of scholarly production, or the root of it, podcasting is part of the many leaves on a tree of scholarly endeavors that grow up and out. The monograph is rooted in traditional models of production and scholarship whereas a podcast can reach other interested parties while still being tied to the root from which it came. While I think it would take some time to rework the structure of production (as I thoroughly agree with Altman’s other point on how the structure of many academic podcasts don’t lend themselves to accessibility), ultimately I find the means of producing and distributing scholarly work through a podcast inspiring. If the academy can find its footing in a more accessible, digital method of producing scholarly work, then maybe I too can be a podcast person.
Check out the works I have referenced in this blog!
Michael J. Altman (2015) Podcasting religious studies, Religion, 45:4, 573-584,
Ben Franklin’s World, https://benfranklinsworld.com/
Keep It!, https://crooked.com/podcast-series/keep-it/