Question: What do you call a deer with no eyes?
Response: I don’t know. What?
Answer: No idear.
That joke comes from the podcast of the The Dinner Party Download’s 300th episode, which I listened to over the weekend. While the joke may be awful, podcasts are among the greatest things ever invented.
I don’t watch much TV. One of my last TV vices was watching angry people yell at each other on Fox News and MSNBC. And, at the urging of my friend, Larry, I gave it up a year ago or so and my life has become immeasurably better.
Instead of watching TV, I listen to a lot of programming on public radio. But some of the programs I like aren’t broadcast by the public radio station where I live. Or some of the programs I like are broadcast at times that aren’t convenient for me to listen. But nearly all of them are archived as podcasts, which allows me to listen whenever I want. This has become the way I listen to On the Media, This American Life, TED Radio Hour, RadioLab, Dinner Party Download and many others.
Where has this technology been all of my life?
In 1993, I moved to Bismarck, N.D., which isn’t the end of the world and is only 700 miles from my hometown. But it’s amazing what you miss when, at the age of 27, you move 700 miles away from home for the first time. For me, one of those things was the late Jim Zabel‘s play-by-play of Iowa Hawkeye football games on WHO-Radio in Des Moines. I would sometimes resort to listening to scratchy rebroadcasts late at night from the parking lot of Landers’ Conoco, which occupied one of of the few high spots in Bismarck at its exit location near Interstate 94.
Now, I all I would have to do is find a smart-phone app on which I could listen to Hawkeye games or anything else on my iPhone — whenever I wanted. Had this technology been available 20 years ago, I could have even followed my high school football team from the comfort of my Bismarck apartment.
Bismarck is where I first started to use email and to surf the web, but, sadly, podcasting was not yet available. That wouldn’t happen for another decade and I was still slow to recognize its greatness. In fact, I didn’t really become a fan of podcasts until the past couple of years — in the time since I left the newspaper business and really started learning how to blog, use social media, build a website or produce a video. Or even a simple podcast of my own (or least an audio version of this blog post.)
In 1993, I could only imagine how great it would have been to listen to broadcasts of Iowa football games from the prairie of North Dakota. Now, it’s hard to imagine life without the ease and availability of the entertainment we want — when we want it. I don’t think I’ve ever watched The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, but I’ve watched many of the show’s best bits on YouTube.
We can’t go back in time. Not that I really want to. But just the changes in media and technology in the past 20 years make me wonder what life will be like 20 years from now. Only time will tell.