For a long time podcasts were a mystery to me. They were mentioned on the BBC website so were sort of mainstream, but why would you need them with Listen Again? And anyway who had time to feel even more of a fogey trying to learn the next new technology? More recently, thanks to the Guardian and the estimable US webmag Slate, it began to dawn on me what gems I was missing. You don’t even have to go and find podcasts but can arrange for them to come straight to your computer. Or even to your phone! Sometimes the modern world is so wonderful I can hardly stand it.
For all the newness of the technology though it’s also a case of plus ça change, and good podcasts can become as essential a part of one’s life as TV and radio classics. I remember watching Nationwide as a kid. Every few weeks someone would write in to say they hadn’t missed a show since 1969 and how great was that? The seventies were obviously a barren period but still, they must (I thought) have had f*** all to do if they were tuning into Frank Bough every night.
It was a shock then to realise that I have become one of those people who never misses my favourite programme. The show concerned is Slate’s culture chat podcast, the Culture Gabfest, and I have a 100% record since the middle of 2009. Not due to some anal completism you understand and not, of course, due to having an otherwise boring life, but simply because it’s so good there’s no reason to miss it. Ever. Not unless you’re actually dead, and even then I expect Apple are currently working on a gadget for streaming audio in the afterlife. I just hope Steve Jobs is making a fuss about the quality of the celestial interface device. Maybe Hell is simply not having this pop up in your iTunes every Wednesday.