"If your parachute won't open, aim for a soft cow!"...
Honestly, it seems almost impossible to dislike podcasts, once you started to listen. They are small, wild and refuse to walk the beaten path of monetary strive. And most of all – they sure as heck are a lot of fun!
Germany is not a country of early adopters and people here tend to wait and see. Whereas many other western societies seem to be always on the hunt for the newest, latest, best, ‘typical’ Germans more likely will let others have the very first impression. One might argue that this is a reasonable approach but it is also one of many reasons, why technical developments here only seem to take hold long after the hype is settled. Just think of the implementation of Netflix, crowd funding or the ongoing replacement of landline phones.
To me, that might as well be the reason, why podcasts in Germany are not yet as widespread as they are for example in the US. Objectively speaking, more than ten years after their triumphant march in America, there is no sane argument not to have a dip in the diverse universe of infotainment that podcasts have in store.
Why you ask? Quite simple I say – let’s have a look at the main reasons, podcasts are so great:
Just like other streaming services (Spotify, Netflix) you can listen to an episode of your favourite podcast whenever and wherever you want. All you need is your smartphone and as we all know, that one is always in your pocket. During a run, when commuting, while you’re cooking in the kitchen or cleaning up the house – a podcast can enrich every occasion with something you’re really interested in.
Do you like science? Or maybe you love football? Are you interested in 80’s action movies or would you like to dive into the history of art? I bet there is a podcast that caters to your specific needs. Podcasts are just as colourful as the people who produce and listen to them. You decide. Some like to catch up on a thing and get a brief overview, some like to dig into the depth of a subject. As the shows are mostly specific to a certain subject, you will get a more informed opinion than you will have with a mainstream media outlet that has to serve all kinds of interests.
With every podcast comes a community that you can join – maybe to dive deeper into a matter, maybe to help a podcast pro-actively with your expertise. Most podcasts have a way to interact with the creators, like a reddit, a comment section on their blog or even a live chat and most creators appreciate the input of their community. Of course, the amount of your contribution is up to you and you alone, but if you have a burning passion, you can find gratification right there.
Sure, everything on the internet is free, as we all know⸮ …but seriously, podcasts truly are. Pretty much all of the casts start with a passion and run solely on the feedback of the listeners – most of them stay that way. As productions start to get more and more professional and the makers start to get in trouble with the time they have to invest (some podcasts I listen to eat up around 20-30 hours weekly for preparation and editing), some set up a way to support them financially. Although this is purely voluntary, it helps keeping independent and can improve the quality of the production. In the US – where podcasts are much more mainstream than in Germany – many casts are organized in a network that offers hardware support, hosting and sometimes place ads. Yet most of the shows I know rather stick to a voluntary crowd-funding model to keep on running rather than including advertisement.
If you yourself have developed a burning passion for a subject and feel save to talk about it – why not start a podcast on your own? From a technical point of view, there’s not that much to it. You will need a microphone (a gaming headset will do, or your smartphone), a software to record and edit (like the free Audacity) and a server to host your files. Modern content management systems like Wordpress include plugins that will let you set up title, description and images for your episodes and render a XML-file, which is called “feed”. Enter the path to this feed in iTunes and/or Feedburner, to make it available for Apps on your smartphone. All for free.
As you can see – there are many reasons to enter the world of podcasts if you haven’t already. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the pure amount of different shows, the internet has to offer, here is a short list of recommendations I can make to start your podcasting experience:
We have concerns: WHC is a short, funny and improvised podcast about the wonder and dread hidden in everyday things. Episodes come three times per week and last around 20 minutes. (EN)
Methodisch inkorrekt: Every two weeks the hosts talk about news and their every-day life in science (DE)
Lage der Nation: If you want to keep up with the latest developments in politics in Germany and the whole world, Lage der Nations offers a weekly look at things and both hosts try to shine a light on backgrounds and sometimes talk about possible solutions. (DE)
Fest und Flauschig: Hosted exclusively on Spotify, F&F is one of the biggest German Podcasts hosted by Jan Böhmermann and Olli Schulz on a weekly basis. Subjects range from politics, music, society and everyday issues and are handled with a special kind of humour. (DE)
Politics for humans: Sabrina Siddiqui helps translate headline news into thoughtful, people based conversations. (EN)
The /Filmcast: During the weekly episodes of the podcast, the film geeks delve into the latest movies, news, tv shows and entertainment-related items. (EN)
Celluleute: An outspoken podcast about the latest movies ranging from big screen blockbusters to small independent b-movies. (DE)
Rasenfunk: Offering three different formats, the Rasenfunk is one of the best German football podcasts – independent and with different guests, you’ll learn about the previous match day, international tournaments or some specific subjects like doping or experiencing football as a blind person. (DE)
Collinas Erben: For those who look for a different view on football, Collinas Erben provides you with Germany’s (and maybe the world’s) sole referee podcast. Just worth for it’s rhetorical expertise, the cast discusses decisions of the past weeks and shares the perspective of the referee in focus. (DE)
Football weekly: Two times per week James Richardson and the pod squad (mostly experts from the Guardian sports section) bring you puns and punditry from the world of Football (Premier League, international) (EN)
Plauschangriff: One of the first podcasts I ever listened to regularily focusses mostly on gaming and certain movie topics. By the Rocketbeans staff. (DE)
DLC: DLC is your weekly audio tour of the latest in video games and tabletop entertainment. Hosts Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer are joined every week by the best damn gaming experts on the planet. (EN)
Hope you enjoy them as well as I do!