Esteemed colleague Marc Weisblott is a living test case for podcast players, and is a capital fellow overall.
I marvel at Weisblott’s seeming absence of disillusionment with the lot of the hack. I wrote freelance for ten years or more and gave up on it for a host of reasons, one of them a copyright lawsuit that also spanned ten years or more. Weisblott wrote for the lamestream media, then on blogs, then on lamestream-media blogs. He’s an early adopter of the demimonde that non-progressives delude themselves will save their hides, newsletters. Weisblott’s daily 12:36 newsletter does a great job remaining even-handed while still carrying authorial voice, through which an “agenda” can be discerned by attuned readers.
Weisblott’s maximalist media diet includes subscribing (at one point) to a magical 1,236 podcasts. An OPML file with more than 700 entries was enough to choke Overcast. Now his subscriptions number beyond 2,040.
Of course Weisblott cannot “listen to” two thousand podcasts. Of (further) course, there indeed are nerds who, back dans la journée, downloaded every music file they could. (Alan Zweig shot a couple of documentaries about those nerds. He’s one of them.) There are “collectors” of all sorts of digital files.
That isn’t what Weisblott is doing.
Nobody bats an eye at a study lined with thousands of books, few of whom one had actually read. (I have my doubts Fran Lebowitz read all 12,000 of the books she has had special moving companies schlep for her.) It’s called a personal library. It lets you do things other people cannot, like refer to podcast episodes that have been deleted elsewhere. You surely know Joe Rogan as an example of that, but I’ll have a doozy of a counterexample for you shortly.
If you’re developing any kind of podcasting app, you absolutely must enlist Weisblott to stress-test it. If it works for him it will work for any power user. At the very least, ask him for his OPML file.
Weisblott is invariably just ahead of the curve enough to stay alive, relevant, and productive. He’s been unfailingly kind to, generous with, and understanding of me through a huge chunk of our respective adulthoods. I will always be his friend, even though he and I both know he will never speak to me again, or even attend my funeral.
Counterintuitively, no, there is no such thing as a mainstream podcast – not even Serial, no matter how often written about or lampooned.
Pattern Recognition (excerpted), with a barman speaking first:
“Time Out. The weekly. You were on a panel. You follow the footage.” Damien maintains, half-seriously, that followers of the footage comprise the first true freemasonry of the new century.
“Were you there?” Cayce asks, jostled out of herself by this abrupt violation of context. She is not by any means a celebrity; being recognized by strangers isn’t part of her ordinary experience. But the footage has a way of cutting across boundaries, transgressing the accustomed order of things.
“My friend was there.” He looks down and runs a spotless white cloth across the bar top.... “New segment.” Quick, under his breath. “When?” “This morning. 48 seconds. It’s them.” It’s as though they are in a bubble now, Cayce and the barman. No sound penetrates.
“Do they speak?” she asks.
“You’ve seen it?”
“No. Someone messaged me, on my mobile.”
“No spoilers,” Cayce warns, getting a grip.
“The footage” is a samizdat series of inscrutable videos. Cayce indeed does follow the footage. She goes out and looks for it.
Podcasting is another in an unbroken succession of pull media. Here we encounter something else Wired got wrong: The magazine of the dumb digerati predicted (twice – in 1997 and in 2004) that the browser was passé and “content” would simply be pushed at you.
I was of course online at the time and I specifically recall Netscape grinding pathetically away over a telephone modem as “push content” was pushed toward me to my discontentment.
Some defaults are downright evil (canonically, your computer actually pinging with each E‑mail you receive) while others are just a pain in the ass to deactivate. Now our version of push media is notifications. I have basically all of those turned off. Normiecucks have their lock screens festooned with them.
But those still are not podcasts, which you must affirmatively consent to receive. Condé Nast may “subscribe” you to the New Yorker if you previously subscribed to Wired (now you have two problems), but you cannot go from zero subscriptions to some subscriptions without opting in. Nor can the number of podcasts you subscribe to change by any action other than your own, save of course for blue-haired trannies deleting them behind your back. Your podcast subscriptions increase only because you chose to do that.
Podcasting is not very decentralized now, but it was thus for a full decade and could be again. Hence podcasting as a medium cannot be destroyed wholesale the way gopher and newsgroups were. But the medium can be reduced to the level of a mindless beginner with no taste, and that process is underway now.
Meanwhile, you walk around with a uniquely permuted subscription list, but you do so with an immanent awareness that other fans of individual podcasts also walk the earth. You may not know them personally (though podcast meetups have happened and are a great idea), but you know they exist. You know you aren’t alone. You know you are not the only fan. All of you follow the footage.
Even if Apple and every podcast app decide to ban or shadowban a podcast starting today, everyone who is a fan yesterday can and surely will still listen to it. Unless and until the audio files are deleted (or just renamed, triggering 404s), you are still not alone. You perpetuate the oral tradition the way “books” in Fahrenheit 451 do – by listening to repositories. The difference is you do not later recite them verbatim. That recitation is handled by other fans’ podcast software.
For anyone other than a complete beginner with no taste or no independent mind, your subscription list makes you an army of one. But it’s not as though the military-industrial-entertainment complex could possibly let that stand. Podcasting indeed is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be subscribed to Alex Jones.
Hence the years-long campaign to warn you that podcasts contravene accepted thought (e.g., Joe Rogan), implying there’s something morally wrong with you for listening to them. Or the insistence that some podcasts (e.g., Red Ice Radio) contain hate speech, which term, like racism, merely refers to words the blue-haired-tranny ruling class disapproves of.
You and others who share a fandom of a podcast – this means subscribing to it and listening to it and enjoying it and even counting down the days to the next episode – are battalions of armies of one. All of you as a subculture are one thing. But because you don’t charge down a battlefield together, you do not create culture yourself.
Elsewhere in Pattern Recognition, Cayce “moves along until she finds a sandwich shop, small and preglobalized, but also rather smart.” And now, surprising us all, some small and preglobalized podcasts do induce creation of culture. They’re the only podcasts that could. You’ll learn about those here shortly.
White middle-class youth, always the last to know, finally discover rap, the rock music of the ’90s.
The Face published that aperçu circa 1994. I’d have to dig through boxes to locate a citation. But if I were going to hunt around for 25-year-old magazines in the first place, I’d go looking for Wired.
Everything that is happening to corporate podcasting already happened to every other Internet format, from instant messaging to blogs to MP3s. Every medium started out decentralized, independent, and personal, then got subsumed into the military-industrial-entertainment complex.
But only those who remember the olden days realize that. Everyone who was younger than age 18 in 1994 knows the Internet as a corporate manifestation. We used to worry that “the Internet” would come to mean simply “the Web,” and look how naïve we were there. Now you can go a full day without ever being exposed to an HTTP protocol, but when that happens all you’re exposed to are corporate constructs, from Facebook to Instagram to WhatsApp. (Yes, even your instant messaging is corporate, and in the example I just cited, not even private.)
To paraphrase someone you weren’t expecting, Ntozake Shange: “I could not stand being sorry and coloured at the same time. It’s so redundant in the modern world.”
Manhattan magazine hacks could not tolerate existing in the same universe as blogs. Writing for screens was inconceivable to these has-beens. They never quite twigged to the fact that they’d been writing on screens since the days of WordPerfect 5.1, which indeed were happier days by virtue of that software alone.
Essay‑ or article-like writing that did not go through an editor and did not get typeset and printed and did not pay you money was definitionally worthless. Yet they could not shut blogs down. Magazine journos had no choice but to start up their own half-assed competition,
The result was the style of flaccid lifestyle-magazine copy that blogs, which got straight to the point, had made redundant.
Although [a Plastic contributor] didn’t give us any kind of opinion on the matter, Steven Spielberg has issued a statement saying he no longer wishes to participate in the Boy Scouts of America as a board member due to their policies of discrimination against gays. As always, the Boy Scouts responded with a rousing chorus of “You say ‘discrimination,’ we say ‘standards.’ ”
According to CNN, Spielberg “did not name the Boy Scout policy that he considered discriminatory” (weak, Steve), but it “appeared clear that he was referring to the organization’s controversial exclusion of ‘avowed homosexuals’ on the grounds that they violate the group’s values.” Normally Plastic discriminates on the grounds that a user-submitted story must contain actual opinions and not just cut-and-pasted story copy, but in this case we made an exception. See how tolerant we are?
(Not being accustomed to editing on screens, Plastic hacks missed the echo of story.)
If this were The West Wing, we could expect a moralizing speech about how public figures shouldn’t be judged on what they do in their private lives – or a cold, political speech about how indiscretions can cost otherwise honorable people their jobs. But this is Hollywood, and though West Wing showrunner Aaron Sorkin was arrested on drug charges on Sunday, we think he’ll be just fine in the long run. For the record, Sorkin was found with “a quantity of hallucinogenic mushrooms” in his bag. Guess that explains Ainsley Hayes....
So is corporate podcasting.
You have everything you need, indeed literally everything, to make a go of podcasting without selling out to a corporation. Every successful self-made podcast, no matter how one might define successful, started from zero.
So quit being dumb enough to let it happen to you.
Podcasting is not art, I don’t think. Podcasts are more like collectibles. I understand the appeal, since I’ve had collections of everything from back issues of Spy to Betamaxen. As with figurines, with podcasting you can collect the dolls (episodes) and the boxes (series).
Everyone’s glass menagerie will differ. But nobody expected the sudden, shocking parthenogenesis of culture that podcasting brought into being in 2020. If all your podcasts derive from corporate Top 10 lists or from state broadcasters, you had no idea this art movement even existed. Good thing, too, because anyone who could popularize it for you would just ruin it.
Sound can conjure image and music usually will. Picture this, if you are old enough to remember living it: Lying prone on bed with a double gatefold LP opened up on the carpet, with Disc 1, Side 1 playing on the stereo.
Consider now the most difficult gay in podcasting, Jack Mason. He goes by various noms de plume in piloting the Perfume Nationalist, his party boat crammed cheek-by-jowl with merry men. By a wide margin, it’s the most interesting thing I’ve listened to in the last ten years.
“Impossible” is one thing and “inconceivable” is another, and Mason has managed both. In any of his umpteen interviews, the Perfume Nationalist duly boasts that he and only he has managed to persuade armies of straight guys, many of them as lovely as World War I soldiers, to appreciate classic, taxing, and/or stigmatized movies and above all to buy and wear perfume, which they wield like armour and whose bottles they brandish like sigils.
Some podcasts have fervent fans, but all they produce is an agitation or excitement within fans’ own minds. The Perfume Nationalist manifested real objects into the world. Mason willed all this into existence. He started a movement from scratch.
The last time I heard of that happening it was fictional – in Geek Love, a generational touchstone. (A few levels of quotation collapsed in the excerpt below.)
After a few months, reporters drove out to meet us on the road. Squads with cameras and notebooks and tape recorders waited for us on every new site as we tooled in and parked. A few towns canceled our licenses before we even arrived. The indignant slams just made Arty smile. “Those who want to know,” he shrugged, “will still get the message.” [...]
Arty is sporadically self-educated with wide lacunæ in his information... but he is a gifted analyst of personality and motivation, and a complete manipulator. His knowledge of science is primitive. He relies on specialists in his staff to provide him with effective lighting, sound technology, etc. He is a skilled speaker on a one-to-one level as well as in the mass-rhetoric situation of his performances....
His power seems to come from a combination of techniques and personality traits. He seems to have no sympathy for anyone, but total empathy. He is enormously self-centered, proud, vain, disdainful of all who lack the good fortune to be him. [...]
“Say, just for argument’s sake, that I’m really serious in my own mind about what I offer. Just say I really think this is a sanctuary. Well, the whole deal depends on choice. I want people who know what life has to offer and choose to turn their backs on it. I want no virgins unless they’re 60 years old. I want no peach-cheeked babes who may be down tonight but will have a whole new attitude after their morning bowel movement. I want the losers who know they’re losers. I want those who have a choice of tortures and pick me.
“I counted up the converts two nights ago and we’ve got a Fully Blessed roll of 750 in three years and another 5,000 who have worked past their first ten digits. You got to figure there’s something going on here. We’ve got something the folks want.”
There the cult leader was an intentionally engineered deformed boy with Thalidomide-like flippers. (Those “ten digits” are a count of acolytes’ elective amputations.) Here it’s a gay man with a gay voice and a gay history and gay interests. None of that has deterred red-blooded heterosexualists one iota. (I’m not allowed to pass on an aperçu from one of those acolytes – that the Perfume Nationalist [man or series] is deemed acceptable by straight guys because Mason’s straight brother co-hosts the show and is the “specialist on staff.”)
Of course it helps that Mason is hardly an orthodox homosexualist. He loathes liberals (his term for everyone from Liberals to progressives), and really, if anything binds his slavering male fans and him together, it is this common foe. Everyone discovers, in their own time, how shared hatreds act like superglue, and for these wayward boys, 2020 was their Year Zero.
Something else Mason admits in interviews is that he is sparing the world by choosing to exert his influence like Robin Hood and not Stalin. (And not Arty in Geek Love, or V, or T.S. Garp’s mom.) On the other hand, as I will cover in due course, the Perfume Nationalist is a blubbering paranoiac and a hypocrite. He reduced himself to crying on a hermaphrodite’s shoulder. As Mason’s heroine Paglia would insist, his endemic personal failings do not impair his achievement and are not really relevant to it. (Coverage.)
We know now that simple audio files can effect material change. The operative question becomes: Who’s next after the Perfume Nationalist?
Can it be you?
I had been online for two full years when Wired began publishing. I called up their publicist, who told me they weren’t shipping freebie copies. No need: Even before it sold out to Condé Nast, you could find that rag anywhere.
Maybe, in current year, the Internet is mildly diverting here and there, but it was shit-hot exciting in 1993. Every new issue of Wired seemed like Christmas Day. But the magazine would soon deliver nought but lumps of coal.
I counted down the days till Wired arrived the same way I’d done for Spy. Now imagine an abomination like this glaring back at you from its cover:
Who in God’s name gives a hoot about cable-TV executives? Imagine the design process of this cover illustration. How was it even possible to find enough sycophancy within yourself to produce this abomination? Then there’s the rank banality.
Is it a surprise that everyone has now forgotten what passed for big names on Wired’s masthead, like founder Louis Rossetto and gobbledygook-churning mainstay Nicholas Negroponte? No – and what also wasn’t a surprise was getting bought out by Sy Newhouse. Wired was always a business magazine. The interview with Ray Smith is all about revenues, “high-yield-oriented” shareholders, and market segments. (Barry Diller shows up at one point.) Imagine thinking you were cool at the same time, like you were some kind of SoHo art dealer with asymmetrical hair.
I also remember Wired’s gopher site – that cœlacanth technology seems to come up a lot here – defying a Canadian court order and publishing details of a serial-killer couple’s trial. (I specifically looked at that gopher site at the time.) Stunning. But Wired would never fire up the balls to call a telecom executive fat, superannuated and dull. Instead, he got the cover-art treatment. (Today it would be a brave transwymmyn of colour, fresh out of a brief stint in jail for storming then burning down a cop shop in the most womanly manner “she” could manage.)
Furthermore, imagine thinking for half a second that cable TV would trounce the Internet.
In a new tale for an accelerated culture, “newsletters” have quickly become passé, and “podcast newsletters” led the charge there.
I certainly care who has unjustly enriched himself or herself in this demimonde, but I am not remotely interested in the ins and outs of podcast advertising and revenue models. Podcasting “summits” are the dumbest idea of the year.
The Times gave Quah its star treatment (well more than once) because he’s a non-White non-American who, the Times is rightly confident, will not materially oppose the Times’ own insatiable appetite for the destruction of its foes, namely foundational Americans. The Times indeed will continue its pogrom against wrongthinking podcasters. “Quah” is how “kapo” is transliterated in Bahasa Melayu.
Imagine spending your precious days on God’s green earth chasing podcasting news. To paraphrase Adam Ant: “We don’t follow ‘fashion.’ That’d be a joke!” Podcast “news” is banal. The gassy, servile podcast press proves podcasting really did have a good run.
Wondery is some sort of corporate podcast studio one might expect me to be au courant with after 14½ years as a podcast listener. I’d never heard of it until Cridland and Quah, pamphleteers of the military-industrial-entertainment podcast, reblogged the news that Amazon bought it.
Neither Cridland nor Quah bothered to discuss how that buyout will effectively fuck over Wondery’s creators, those creators being too starstruck, self-sabotaging, and ignorant to foresee history repeating itself. (Then there were the unforced if understandable errors of misrendering Wondery, a preposterous neologism, as Wonder.)
Wondery called itself a publisher, while everyone else called it a studio or a startup. Podcasters never needed any of those, nor do they now. In the previous century, superannuated munchkin Spike Lee reminded everyone of the attested history of major record labels dazzling black musicians with baubles like Cadillacs before signing them to deals where the labels basically owned them, or at any rate owned their recorded masters and their publishing. (Feel free to look up Lee’s exact quote, which involves a word you think should never appear on any podcast for any reason. Prince described that bauble as a pink Cadillac. Why not purple?)
Podcasters, who need nothing more than a connected computer and a microphone, failed on cue to re‑relearn the lessons of a previous century. They signed up for a publisher/studio that was always going to fuck them over, and which has latterly proceeded to do so.
Again pace truculent pin-dicked manlet Spike Lee, a “podcast studio” is a reformulation of 40 Acres and a Mule – a period that Lee deemed important enough for history not to repeat that he named his production company thus.
Corporate podcasting is 40 acres and a mule. The only possible reason to run a podcasting “studio,” even if you disclaim that word, is to sell out later. Wondery was and is corporate podcasting, which nobody, least of all you the listener, needs.
Now let’s delve into the starfuckers who were much too dumb to see how they were inevitably doomed to be cheated.
Did you earn points on that deal? How much money did you earn when Wondery netted ostensible millions by selling out?
Why did you place your series with Wondery? In what respect does any podcast require studio backing?
What percentage of your podcast’s revenues do you keep? What’s the lifetime dollar total of those earnings?
What rights did you grant Wondery? Do you, in effect, own your own intellectual property? Is your show really yours? Could Wondery swap you out at will, for which you would have no recourse? Do you retain subsidiary rights (e.g., for film adaptations)?
Do you agree that, if anyone earned a good chunk of change off your podcast, you weren’t that person? Do you believe the specific individuals you know at Wondery added enough value to your own show that they deserve to get paid for your own show?
I asked Wondery the same thing. Nobody answered.
I gave everybody one more chance. Nobody took me up on it, save for Matt Stroud, who first wanted to establish if I were writing for somebody real or important (I guess this means the Times), then sounded annoyed at my tone (he must be new here), then offered a substantive answer:
As for the Amazon deal, are you suggesting that, as a part of my contract with Wondery, I should have negotiated to get an equity stake in the company? I guess I could’ve asked for that. But I can’t imagine why they would agree to that. (If I owned the company I likely wouldn’t agree to that.) And if they did agree to that, they probably would have asked me to work for free in exchange for that equity. I wasn’t in a position to work for free; I have kids and a mortgage and bills to pay, so I needed them to pay me for the work. It was a job. And I was lucky enough to get a percentage of the TV development deal for Guru. So I think I was treated fairly.
Why did I work with Wondery instead of making the podcast myself? Because they had the resources to pay me and pay for my reporting and pay their extremely talented staff of audio engineers and reporters and writers and editors. Plus they have an audience of devoted fans. Guru [his podcast] attracted millions of listeners and is being turned into a scripted drama on a major TV network. If I’d done it alone, it would have been a far more inferior product with very few listeners.
Matt and I continued to have a reasonable conversation, not excerpted here.
How banal to remember commentators on commentators telling us the Walkman antisocially isolated individuals in their own sound bubble. These were the same commentators telling us the ’80s were about greed. As a practitioner of metacommentary, I can advise you not to believe anyone but me.
I spent umpteen hundreds on any number of Walkmen. (This was the era when Sony’s product names were slightly wrong yet magical.) Their tape decks all died quickly. The more pocketable hence cooler the Walkman, the shorter its life expectancy. Aiwa’s tape mechanisms were always more reliable (I had a great little component stereo by them), but Aiwa was never à la mode.
In the golden hour in which your Walkman actually worked, the operating constraints were, first, batteries, but more relevantly sequential playback – and headphones. Those were all conspicuous/intrusive/scratchy, with the Koss Porta Pro (not a magical name) coming equipped with its own tension-relieving pads below the temples and a rapier-sharp bare aluminum headband more suited to a haybaler. (A bald guy who looked straight out of the Berlin industrial scene always used to ride the 80 bus in Montreal wearing those things, which you can still buy.)
But inevitably you were condemned to listen to Side A of an album in sequence, or Side B. (Worse, you might start mid-stream.) Plus you probably bought the LP version to play at home.
Wearing a Walkman was like striding through a 1970s Plexiglas pedestrian overpass. Once you pressed Play or crossed the threshold, your future over the next minutes was preordained, and everybody could see what you were doing.
But since this was the 1980s, every object you touched was real, even if it was plastic (or Plexiglas). The 1980s were the last decade where things mattered because they were genuine, down to the thickest laminate layer on Memphis furniture.
“All this has happened before” is one of this project’s enduring themes. When music was dematerialized to MP3s, commentators spent years telling us how much we had lost, though they fudged the details. LPs were always a tactile experience, while CDs were merely packages unless co-designed by the Pet Shop Boys.
Nor did they note the other reason (beyond higher fidelity) why you also owned the LP of each tape cassette: You could at least pick up and drop the needle to listen to just one song. (Wasn’t that the raison d’être of the LP’s little brother [the 45] and its fraternal twins [10″ and 12″ singles]?) Try listening to exactly and only one song in iTunes and see how the rest of your day goes.
Podcasts at no point had a material component or package. Ninety-plus percent of the time, even podcasts’ “album art” is a disgrace, and nobody even bothers to set up custom art for each episode (or within one at MP3 landmarks).
Your pocketable smartphone and your wireless headphones (this means your iPhone and AirPods) allow you to sashay down the boulevard all but invisibly listening to a podcast the choice of which is nobody else’s goddamn business. In wintertime, if your ears are covered, as by a toque or headband, and if your phone’s in your pocket as God intended, you can invisibly and comfortably listen to your podcast.
Music dematerialized, but podcasts were never more than ether. The ultimate case of an unseen companion whispering in one’s ears, as if from a Victorian novel but comfortably happening to us right now, the podcast you listen to with nobody noticing is the Walkman melting into your own humours.
I see there are efforts to categorize podcasts (or apply taxonomies to them). As ever, the masterminds behind a project like this are operating in ignorance of prior art, which extends back generations. (MARC/LC and Dublin Core are two examples. For many years, mine was the only amateur site that included Dublin Core metadata.) It’s not going to work, not least because taxonomists – have they even heard of Linnæus? – will inevitably fail to include dance-music podcasts, because to them that isn’t music hence those podcasts actually contain nothing.
What a mess.
As you will see when I publish my motion to address the endemic issue of podcast censorship, if you aim to categorize or epitomize podcasts, all you ever need are two categories. I will propose one such pair.
Here’s another: Yours is a military-industrial-entertainment podcast or it isn’t.
By a wide margin the best episode of The X‑Files, “José Chung’s From Outer Space” is so complex not only does its title include a title its story includes a story. (More than two all told.) Even if I hadn’t grown up watching – with incomplete understanding – Charles Nelson Reilly as he manned the upper-right-hand seat on Match Game, this performance would have made me a lifelong fan.
JOSÉ CHUNG: What can I do for you, Agent Mulder?
MULDER: Don’t write this book. You’ll perform a disservice through a field of inquiry that has always struggled for respectability. You’re a gifted writer, but no amount of talent could describe the events that occurred in any realistic vein because they deal with alternative realities that we’ve yet to comprehend. And when presented in the wrong way, in the wrong context, the incidents and the people involved in them can appear foolish, if not downright psychotic.
I also know that your publishing house is owned by Warden White, Inc., a subsidiary of MacDougall-Kesler, which makes me suspect a covert agenda for your book on the part of the military-industrial-entertainment complex.
Every book that isn’t a hardcover is a softcover. Likewise, every podcast is corporate‑ or state-backed or it isn’t.
Corporate podcasts are the latest scene of online crime, where “creatives” too clueless to realize all this has happened before act surprised when it happens again to them.
“It” in this context includes labouring for nothing, or for peanuts, for others’ gain in the vainglorious hope of recognition. “It” further includes the zero dollars and zero pence you get when your corporate podcasting “studio” sells out for a fortune and keeps all the money. (And the rights to your work?)
A corporate podcast is a show in every sense of the word. It’s a business, and you’re not profit-sharing.
State podcasts are issued by public broadcasters. I am a former supporter of public broadcasting, having not only appeared on CBC, TVO, and NPR but done paid work for the Corpse. (Plus I took over a CBC gossip blog. Ask me how that went.) Public broadcasters can no longer be trusted.
It’s too on-the-nose to call these podcasters propagandists. Their podcasts are in the business of manufacturing consent. (Cf. the now-classic documentary of the same title.) A Turing machine will fool an educated invigilator into thinking the machine is human; here, Chomsky podcasting machines lie to you, then call you a Nazi when you notice.
Not atypically, consent-manufacturing podcasts purport to be engaged in straight journalism, and these are the ones with the heaviest stench of propaganda. You might think El Chapo Trap House is the worst offender here. In fact, leader of the pack by a wide margin is the high-margin Democrat Trojan horse known as This American Life.
Effectively all podcasts promoted by the press are engaged in consent manufacturing. Your software will present “unbiased” suggestions for such podcasts. They all derive from the military-industrial-entertainment wing of podcasting.
In the present day, the consent being manufactured is that of liberalism or progressivism. It’s disingenuous for you, the reader of a critique of podcasting, to pretend not to understand the uniformity of thought that these podcasts funnel into your ears. If you object or dissent in any way, shape, or form, a mob will try to destroy you.
As I will spend a lot of time explaining, this is going to happen to you. You’re going to be called or at least considered racist, and if you dare to tall-poppy yourself and disagree on anything, blue-haired trannies from Trust & Safety will dispatch their Mohammedan friends to drop by and saw your head off.
Once you finally realize that promoted podcasts, like television, film, and especially “journalism,” are custom-crafted to lie to you, not much is gonna be left of your auto-generated podcast subscription list.
This project champions the art podcast. They attempt to do something novel, even if their methods are in the storied tradition of radio plays or sound experiments (to which I have listened for 40-plus years). Use this litmus test: Could Joe Frank have produced this podcast? Would he have liked it?
After a decade and a half of listening to podcasts, and a previous decade and a half writing newspaper and magazine articles, if anything has spurred me to begin this project it is the art podcast. Sticking to those – thereby sticking it to This American Life and El Chapo Trap House – has been working out great for me. Try it yourself.
Wielding the greatest nom de guerre since Biggie Smalls as if it were a crucifix (cf. Carlo in Earthly Powers), Trans Regret Snoopy Presents the Bible (RSS) does what it, and he, say. Snoopy offers highly articulate articulations of Bible verses and messages. His guests derive from an entire world – a demimonde, one might say – of alterna-Christ podcasting that I did not know existed.
Updated: 2021.04.29, 2021.05.03, 2021.07.01