Welcome to the Monthly Magpie. I'm mostly making this up as I go along so let me know what you think.
What Did I Review?
Only one review this month because I did not keep track of my previous reviews correctly.
WhatsHerName. A folk-punk star who recently charted number one in the UK led me to this podcast. Thanks, Frank Turner! Full of excellent information that is well delivered, these sister professors take on the challenge of the lesser-known (but just as important) women in History. This podcast is dropped every other week, and sits around 45 minutes to an hour. What'sHerName is independently produced and on Patreon.
I'll highlight an old review: NASA'S Curious Universe as we get farther along in the James Webb Space Telescope's celestial life- learn about how it came to be with these delightful 20 minute episodes from NASA.
Thoughts: To Pay or Not to Pay Awards
I'm relatively fresh to the industry- but I also feel like many of us are. There's not much establishment that seems to exist, and it needs to figure itself out. The last few months have had a number of podcast awards- and more have been announced to start up next year. In February iHeart presented their docket, The Ambies were this last month. September will bring us another round with the Podcast Awards, the People's Choice edition.
This is an industry that has infinite content, and more notably individuals crawling from a blanket fort to overseeing networks in short order. Any single podcast award is going to be too small to cover everything podcast encompasses. Definitions become inherently muddied, and no one is going to be thrilled with the results. Conversations sparked on Twitter over what is an "Indie" show and whether or not there should be a pay-to-play aspect with these awards. I followed them with a curious eye.
I love these discussions and want to encourage them from professionals and listeners. Podcasting is still figuring out where it's going and what it's doing in some ways. How many awards exist for other comparable mediums? A lot more than we realize. Sure, we hear about the big ones- but there are a number of smaller - very specific industry awards you can be awarded. Podcasting doesn't quite have that yet.
So what really is an Indie? Conversations around the qualification of the podcast Aftershock were interesting. Technically, this is a podcast that was independently produced. However, what do we as listeners and professionals want to define Indie as? Especially now that we see so many people with vastly different resources dipping their feet into the pool. Should film and tv professionals be on the same level as someone who learned the basics of audio engineering in the last year?
Having pay-to-play style awards complicates this even further. The podcasts getting recognition are only the ones that can afford a fee. It feels unfair and continually tilts the podcasting world towards the same people- those with resources. While I'm not sure if many of these awards actually are for anything other than industry clout, it still stings. Personally, I skimmed the results mostly out of curiosity. I did find one or two I'm excited about but I don't think the average listener listens to podcasts because of awards. Word of mouth is still the biggest way the average listeners find new shows.
On another hand being an industry with so much individualized development, I think the pay to play could be a benchmark. It's a goal that gives an individual or team space to grow and develop without being thrown to the wolves. Do you want only your first ten episodes to be what makes you a contender? Submission fees help keep a balance in check. Sure, there are phenomenal, smaller podcasts that can't justify a fee like that- and it really can seem like a slap in the face. It is a world where both things can be true.
Is there a simple solution here? No. If we were to go fan voting - an intense following is just as weighted as pay-to-play. It might be a popular podcast, but what is it like on a technical level? Does popular equate to artistically sound? Especially when "artistically sound" is a gross oversimplification. Going into this is complicated and unnecessarily philosophical - so I'll stop here for all of our brains.
I only know there should be something we can do. It's a collective decision- and we probably are developing answers as I type this. If there's no active solution in the works, talking about it is the best way to find one. Podcasters and listeners alike: Have an opinion. Start talking. You might help create the next big award.
Podcasts I've listened to in March:
I hope that everyone knows I listen to more than just what I review. I don't want to review every podcast I enjoy, because that's a lot of pressure. With that in mind here's a list of some titles from the month of March- a few of which I will review. Bonus points if you figure out which ones!
- Twenty Thousand Hertz
- Tudors Dynasty
- The Trojan Horse Affair
- Music History Today
- The Atlas Obscura Podcast
- Let's Talk About Myths, Baby!
- Historical Friction
- Dirty Sexy History
- Frame of Mind
Other things I do? I read. I devoured the Bridgerton books recently. The best way I can describe them is "no thoughts just happy". I need books to be my happy place, so I'm aiming to keep them there. Lately, I've been into romance, which isn't my usual place. Any suggestions, I'm here for them.
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Happy April Everyone!