Podcasts are no longer just for your parents and grandparents. After a huge burst in popularity several years ago, podcasts seemingly fell off the radar, patronized only by those unwilling to move with the fast-paced current of the internet. However, the sweeping mainstream appeal of series such as “Serial” has brought this seemingly archaic medium back into the public eye (or ear).
Reagan Herzog, sophomore political science and communication double major and co-creator of the pop culture podcast “Trash Talk,” initially came up with the idea for the podcast after having surgery to remove her wisdom teeth last spring break. “We were texting about ‘Degrassi’ and said,‘We’re really funny, we should do something.’ At first Danielle suggested YouTube videos, but that’s a lot of work, and then you have to look nice. After we decided podcasts, it became pretty obvious what we would talk about is TV, because most of what we do together is watch TV together,” Herzog said.
Podcasting has been a unique way for Herzog to bond with people on campus, “A lot of people who I’m not particularly close with at Trinity listen to the podcast, and some of my close friends won’t,” Herzog said. Many assume podcasting to be a casual conversation between friends. “After every episode of a season we’d open a Google Doc and write down what happened. It’s nice because when you’re in the podcast, even if you’re not watching the show, you can riff off of the ridiculousness,” Herzog said.
After being a big fan of podcasts for years, Herzog anticipates that serious news and political broadcasts will become more prevalent as the medium becomes more successful. “When you say media, you think books, newspapers: even now, social media is a big thing. Podcasts, definitely, I think could emerge as its own separate platform,” Herzog said.
Danielle Trevino, co-creator of “Trash Talk” and an art and communication double major, describes her newfound fame as a podcaster. “People at Trinity have stopped us to take selfies like, ‘Oh, you guys are walking together, let’s take a picture,’” Trevino said. One of the most difficult challenges has been listening to their own voices while editing the podcast. “There’s a reason that Reagan edits all the podcasts, because I still can’t stand it,” Trevino said.
While the two try to limit their edits to the podcast, one podcast episode sticks out to Trevino to this day. “There is one podcast episode we had to delete because my mom ended up finding the podcast and I told Reagan, ‘You need to give me the login so I can delete this one episode,’ because the stuff we talk about in this one episode, I do not want my mother to know about,” Trevino said.
The rise of podcasts has also sparked a growing interest on campus. First year political science major Ben Brody has been listening to podcasts since ninth grade, when he was immersed in gaming podcasts like those managed by Rooster Teeth in Austin. “I watched that for about three years, then junior year, I stopped listening to that one,” Brody said.
However, what brought Brody back to listening to podcasts is their versatility. “It’s perfect for if you’re doing something really monotonous and you want some background noise, but some kind of educated background noise. I would do laundry, or do really basic homework that didn’t require a lot of critical thinking,” Brody said.
One of his favorite podcast is Higher Ed, a collaboration between the Edward Burger, the president of Southwestern University, and KUT, the UT radio station. Brody described it saying “It’s about lifelong learning and a really education one I really enjoy. It’s very short, it’s 30 minutes and a good way to start the day.”
The flexible duration of each listen is something very appealing to Brody. “I don’t listen to much of the entertainment-only podcasts: I would argue that almost all podcasts are entertainment, but I prefer news-oriented stuff,” Brody said.
“When it comes to someone speaking to you, you have radio, television and podcasts. A podcast is usually run by a smaller group of people. It’s their time, they’re not buying a slot from someone else. They can take a longer time crafting narrative so it feels more personal, less like a monetized television show than a real human being,” Brody said, emphasizing the importance of the rising medium of podcasts.
Podcasts offer a unique way of providing interesting material in a short amount of time. Through the power of words and the human voice, broadcasters like Reagan and Danielle share their insights with audiences like Ben Brody both on campus and on the world wide web.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Trash Talk, please subscribe to the podcast on the iTunes store.