Why a podcast?
When I was nine or ten, I had one of those old school cassette players: gray with the handle on the bottom below the buttons, and a speaker making up the top half of the rectangular thing. When I wasn’t playing the couple of tapes I owned - I think it was Roxette and Tears For Fears - I would make little radio shows for myself, trying on my pukey DJ voice. Radio was always a part of my media landscape, and a ton of that was NPR; I’m actually named after the NPR news host who was playing when I was born. I used to show up sleepy to school every Monday morning from staying up late to listen to Dr. Demento.
As an adult, I still listened to a lot of programming on NPR, but I had branched out, listening to some comedy shock-jock shows and the brief, weird phenomenon of Air America. Once mp3s became ubiquitous, I expanded even further into books-on-tape, courses from the Learning Company, and eventually, podcasts.
Podcasts seemed like the answer to the question I never figured out how to ask. Now, I could have all the pleasure of listening to spoken-word audio, unchained from the whim of radio programmers. I could delve into nearly any topic, choose from a variety of voices, perspectives, and styles. I could pause, and focus my attention elsewhere, and come back, missing nothing. Podcasts are one of those mediums that seem obvious once they arrive on the scene. “Of course, podcasts!”
I’m a fairly voracious, if selective, consumer of visual media, film, and television, but there is something about spoken-word audio that simply can’t be supplanted by visual storytelling. Sure, you can’t watch a movie while you drive--regardless of what folks on the Bay Bridge seem to think--but there’s more to it than that. As much as I listen to podcasts while I’m doing something non-cerebral with my hands, I’ll also often just sit and listen and stare at the sky. The human voice telling you something, painting a picture for you with words, is compelling in a marvelous, primal, unique way.
All this is to say that a podcast about Burning Man was not something I settled upon after long consideration; It’s something that seemed obvious to me the moment it crossed my mind. Of course, this was a thing I was going to do. It was only ever a question of finding the right folks to do it with. Boy, did I luck the fuck out! I ask you, dear readers, could I have possibly found better collaborators? Not a chance.
Eleven days to the road as of this writing. Hope to see y’all in the dust,