Podcasting off

I am a creature of the written word: there is nothing I like better than reading, unless it’s writing.  I can spell almost anything (although I always have to think carefully about fuchsia – until I remember that it’s from the name of German botanist Leonhart Fuchs) and am a whizz at indices/indexes (both acceptable: the first is Latin, the second later English).  And – thanks in no small part to a ferocious teacher for O-level comprehension – I can pick the salient points out of any article, diatribe, commentary, essay, study, report or assessment in a matter of moments.  What I am not very good at is listening.  My hearing is perfectly fine, thank you, but I do drift off when I am expected to sit still and listen for long periods without doing something else.  I can manage an episode of “Desert Island Discs” while I am cooking, or a drama on Radio 4 while I am knitting, but something for work, while I am expected to just sit and listen without being distracted – that’s hard.

It’s particularly hard because the world – or at least the world of AML – has gone podcast-mad.  Just this week I have had three podcast-alerts drop into my email box, each linking me to something lasting an hour.  A whole hour!  I’m almost certainly not consuming podcasts in the right way: they’re meant for thrusting young things commuting by train into the City, listening via wireless earbuds (I may be making this up) to one of their three smartphones.  I work from home, and have a steam-driven smartphone and no earbuds, which means that I try to play podcasts on my laptop, speakers turned on – a bit like the radio.  And of course, after about ten minutes, I start to look around my desk for something else to do – with a podcast, unlike a written article, you can’t just flick forward to the bit that interests you.  And it’s not like face-to-face training, when you can gaze at the speaker and at other people: it’s just me alone in the office, watching the podcast time marker creeping along the bar to the hour.  And before I know it, I’m halfway through my tax return and I’ve missed almost all of the podcast.

Is it possible for this (fast-reading, slow-listening) dinosaur to make a little plea to podcasters?  I really do want the information that you are sharing – the topics sound fascinating, and I’d like to hear the latest thinking from experts.  But is it possible for you to make a written transcript of your podcast and send that instead…?

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18 Responses to Podcasting off

  1. Andy Watson says:

    I completely agree, I struggle with the long podcasts too. I can recommend “the Dark Money Files” that come in around 20mins as an interesting financial crime podcast. I’m not quite sure if “enjoying” is the right word but the “Missing Crypto Queen” on the BBC is a very interesting investigation in to One Coin.

    • Welcome to the blog, Andy, and thank you for your comment and the recommendations – I shall chase those down. Twenty minutes is an ideal length – just right for an elevenses break with a few Jaffa Cakes…

  2. cartebien says:

    Transcripts would be great (though in the case of certain interview-style podcasts, I suspect the transcript might only underline the sparseness of useful content!)
    My workaround is to speed things up – running YouTube at 1.25x or 1.5x speed, and doing likewise for podcasts in Overcast on the phone.
    Your steam-phone doubtless doesn’t help – even if it has audio capability, it’s probably a major hassle to get your podcast episodes on. (Do you know some tech enthusiast with a discarded previous-generation smartphone in a drawer? You could set it up to sync podcasts over wi-fi, and treat it as an iPod.)

    • That’s a top tip, cartebien – speeding it up! Plus it will be amusing to hear the little mouse voices. And yes, I will see if I can find a more suitable phone – I may have an old oyster-shell one in the back of a drawer…

  3. Fiona says:

    As you pointed out podcasts tend to be long and meandering. In a recent criminal case in Australia the defendants lawyers were given a four week extension because the “evidence” from the podcast that helped to bring about an arrest was 4,500 pages long and there was still a whopping 100 gigabytes of material remaining. You may well get the transcripts but they would be awfully long! My advice is to get some nice comfortable Bluetooth over the ear headphones and head out for the hills. It works for me 🙂

    • 4,500 pages! Now, I’m batty about AML, as you know, but even for me, that would take some reading. And are you actually suggesting exercise? Good heavens, have my frequent references to Jaffa Cakes made no impact at all?! That said, I am a keen cyclist, but (for safety reasons) very anti- listening to anything while pedalling except the sounds of nature and the revving of overtaking cars.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Me too. I have only ever listened to one podcast regularly, and that was on a sporting theme. I wonder if the stats show how many people listen to these things, young or old?

    • That would be interesting – I suspect that podcasts are a bit like Facebook, in that the youngsters will have run screaming for the hills now that we oldies are on the scene!

    • I understand that numbers decline for people over75, maybe because older people prefer computers to smartphones. Expect them to rise in the future though, when most people of 75+ will have used computers all their working life.

      • Welcome to the blog, Rachel, and thank you for your comments. I’m delighted to see that you don’t consider people to be “older” until they are over 75 – gives me hope! Your tip about thinking of podcasts as “radio on demand” is a good one – I perhaps give them too much respect, thinking of them more as “training on demand”, requiring my full attention.

      • Good point! You will know in your heart when to listen hard and when to just enjoy.

  5. I have really got into podcasts recently, but I can’t sit around listening to them. My top tip is to get some decent headphones with bluetooth. Once downloaded onto a phone I can listen to podcasts whilst doing routine stuff like gardening, taking the bus or train, doing supermarket shopping, lounging on the sofa. Favourite work ones include The Suspicious Transaction Report, Dark Money Files. For pro-Brexit try Chopper’s Brexit for anti-Brexit try Remainiacs. For interviews with interesting people try James O’Brien’s Full Disclosure. For the longest podcast ever try Frankie Boyle’s outraged 9-hour Prometheus, my garden has never looked better after I listened to that one!
    Christmas is coming, Sue, keep your ears warm and ask Santa for some decent headphones.

  6. I have been really enjoying the financial crime podcasts – has really opened up the conversation in my office. Will second the Dark Money Files and ACAMS Financial Crime Matters are within the 10-20 min mark too. Both sound fine at 1.2 times speed but haven’t tried hyper-mousey listening at double.

  7. Nine hours! I think you’re right, Tristram – I might have to listen while doing something else. (I save “Desert Island Discs” to listen to while I’m cooking/cremating the dinner.) And I’ll leave a note out for Father Christmas.

  8. Pingback: Lights, camera, action! | I hate money laundering

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