For most of my life, I’ve listened to music during various activities: working out, road trips, Christmas shopping, etc. Even if I didn’t have a CD, I’d flip through radio stations of whatever city I was in. The one exception? Sports. Whether it was Chick Hearn with the Lakers, Vin Scully with the Dodgers, or an anonymous announcer doing the NFL game of the week, listening to a game was one non-music pleasure I enjoyed.
This has changed as I’ve gotten older. Now, I prefer listening to audiobooks or podcasts while doing the same activities. Instead of passively listening to music (which was usually something I’d already listened to countless times), I feel more engaged as I take in the narrator’s words. Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter; sometimes I’d borrow a foreign language CD from the library to download onto my iPod and learn a few Italian or Spanish phrases.
Recently, I finished a season’s worth of Serial, a true-crime podcast released late last year. Serial is composed of a dozen 40+ minute episodes covering the story of a convicted murderer. I downloaded the first episode to listen to during a workout and was instantly hooked.
What I found so compelling was the roller-coaster ride of the podcast. One episode, I thought the convicted murderer was innocent, the next I thought he was guilty; quite often, the question of his innocence/guilt flip-flopped several times during the same episode. It’s a testament to Sarah Koenig’s brilliance as a podcaster. Every episode was engaging and well presented. Did the State present a cut-and-dry case of first-degree murder? Did the defense miss important details that could have exonerated a young man? It’s utterly fascinating, from start to finish. I highly recommend listening to the first episode, but do so at your own risk: you’ll soon be hooked and find yourself binge-listening, just as I did.