Podcasts can make one feel less alone. By listening to the stories, anecdotes, or commentaries of others on everything from breaking news to popular TV shows, one can find company in the sometimes overwhelmingly digital world we live in and fill otherwise silent and solitary moments in one’s daily life. In an age when people lose hours to screen time, sometimes aimlessly scrolling on social media, podcasts can provide a welcome respite.
Podcasting is extremely important and everyone who has even a minimal interest in it should give it a try. At least, this is true according to National Public Radio’s Sam Sanders, who argued his case to an audience of students in the Diana Event Oval Monday night at 7 p.m. “The Podcasting Revolution” kicked off last night with a keynote address delivered by Sanders. The series will include two more events: Women in Podcasting on October 15—which will feature Theo Balcomb, BC ’09, co-founder of The New York Times’ podcast The Daily—and Podcasting Now on Nov. 12.
Sam Sanders grew up in San Antonio, Texas, with a mother who was the organist for their Pentecostal church. Sanders was raised exclusively listening to gospel music, and it wasn’t until after high school that he was exposed to—and subsequently fell in love with—public radio.
Sanders joined NPR in 2009 at WBUR, the NPR station in Boston, after graduating with his master’s degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. He went on to spend six months following Bernie Sanders’ campaign, then co-hosted the “NPR Politics Podcast.” Sanders now has his own “talk show with a heart,” It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders.
During his keynote address, Sanders spoke about the history of podcasting. He believes we are currently experiencing the second bubble of podcasting, the first of which occurred in 2004 when the term ‘podcast’ was coined. Podcasting seemed to teeter out until 2014, when the podcast Serial became massively popular with 68 million downloads, a figure Sanders noted as remarkable given cable television strives for even a million. Podcasting has been growing in popularity ever since.
Sanders provided some advice to audience members interested in the podcasting industry. He noted the difference between a good and bad podcast is often simply a good, critical editor. Sanders also advised being considerate of language while podcasting, as the way we talk in conversation is very different from the way we formally write. He ended asking everyone in the room to consider going into podcasting because the industry needs more people like Barnard students.