From Where I Sit – Listen Up

Before my time, and before the first television sets found their ways into our homes in the 1950s, radio was king. Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of the radio in Italy in 1895 led to more advances in the use of the technology. By 1906, Canadian inventor, Reginald Fessenden did the first public broadcast. Canada’s first national news broadcast happened in 1934. Public radio became widely available.

When I worked as a caseworker at CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) in the 1970s, the importance of sound was driven home to me. I don’t think closed captioning for TV existed yet, so my blind colleagues and clients relied on LP records and radio. After all these years I’m blurry on the details, but I do remember my boss having oldies radio shows like Gunsmoke, Dragnet, Jack Benny, and Our Miss Brooks on reel to reel tapes.

Fast-forward to this fall when Hilary introduced me to podcasts. I thought it was new technology and I was an early adopter. Na-huh. As I researched this I found a British guy named Ben Hammersley invented the podcast in 2004, twelve years ago. Much like my confusion about how microwaves and fax machines work, I have no idea how a podcast happens. Wikipedia to the rescue: “A podcast is an episodic series of digital media files which a user can set up so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own computer or portable media player.” There, clear as mud.

Downloading some podcasts to my iPhone was to save me from hours of tedium and radio static in my combine. With harvest aborted at the halfway mark because of wet, then snowy, weather, this became moot. However, I’m hooked. In the meantime, I searched topics that appealed to me: personal development and writing. Using Bluetooth and listening in the car is great for short trips.

I have learned that just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. Go Self Help Yourself is a huge disappointment. I could tolerate all the f-bombs if there was some compelling content; if the hosts didn’t sound like fourteen-year-old boys; if they weren’t wasting my precious time with disconnected tangents and bullshit ramblings. Luckily I figured out how to delete them and free up that space in my phone.

One of the wonderful gifts from this experience was finding Soul Feed (hosted by Alex Kip and Shannon Algeo) and Beautiful Writers (Linda Sivertsen and Danielle LaPorte). These people have some street cred and attract great guests who convey actual information. Of course, this new pastime of mine could take on a life of its own. Everyone has a website, newsletters to subscribe to, more downloads, exclusive coaching groups to buy into, daily e-blasts, books, and products to sell. So far, I’ve drunk the Danielle LaPorte Kool-Aid. One book down, another to read. But it’s okay; she’s got chops and is Canadian, too.

If Marconi was here, I’m sure he’d say listen up, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.