Why I’m a Podcast Person Instead of a Music Person
Is it weird to listen to NPR while I run?
If I were asked to pick three things that define my life’s routine, three things that I thoroughly enjoy every day, I would have to say running, eating baby carrots, and listening to podcasts, probably in that order. All are things that I have been doing on a daily basis for at least two years; I’m a creature of habit, what can I say? I’ve been running my whole life, and I've been a vegetarian since college. I delight in a brisk seven miler followed by a veggie binge in front of an episode of The Office, which may make me sound weird enough without incorporating my last choice of life-defining property. Whenever I'm doing something on my own, whether it be driving to work, doing my laundry, grocery shopping, or yes, running through the streets of Buffalo, I am constantly listening to podcasts.
Look, I know this is considered fairly strange, especially the running part. But when you really think about it, why is it so strange? Countless people every day do the same thing, but with music instead of podcasts. They prefer the sound of people singing to the sound of people talking, and that's really the sole difference between music people and us odd few podcast people. And when I classify myself as a podcast person, I am not mis-categorizing myself in any sense of the word. If a podcast is out there and moderately popular, I've probably either heard of it or listened to each and every episode that has ever been released. Everything from fiction podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale and TANIS to talkshow podcasts such as Dear Hank and John and Harry Potter and the Sacred Text to long-standing public radio podcasts like Hidden Brain, The Daily, and This American Life; I consume content like a retro music nut might collect old limited-edition Beatles albums.
I can list a myriad of reasons why I like podcasts. They remind me of the books on tape I used to borrow by the armload from my local library when I was a kid, listening to them on my Walkman or during long car rides with my sisters. I also learn new things while I listen to them, while I'm not even trying to. I can be picking out a bag of apples from Aldi and listening to scientists talk about the commerce habits of monkeys, or running through the park at twilight in October, while the fall leaves blow across the grass, listening to an (albeit, made-up) journalist find clues pointing towards some extraterrestrial conspiracy. Podcasts are perfect for adults like me who still struggle with the problems of early childhood: overwhelming curiosity and an overactive imagination. When I sit down and really think about it, though, I think I can understand why I am so addicted to the sound of people talking in my ear. It keeps me from being alone with my thoughts. Podcasts serve me as a simple distraction from myself.
This is something that pretty much every person below the age of 30 finds a vice for, whether they know it or not. Earbuds and headphones are getting easier to use and more streamlined for daily wear; no wires, bluetooth capable, perfected sound and beautiful bass. While most may consider the usage of these tools most commonly for music, listening constantly to something outside of our own minds is a gift worth the $150 price tag of new AirPods. Whether your distraction be music or podcasts, at its core that's all it is: a distraction. Me, I prefer podcasts.