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August 8, 2014

Podcasts are, for me, one of the most important developments to come out of our digital entertainment age. The ability for anybody and everybody to create high quality radio programming pain free and with unlimited distribution channels has meant that we now have a limitless choice of interesting (and some not so interesting) individuals who we previously didn’t have access to.  Not unlike how YouTube is for visual programming, we can now find stimulating audio information and entertainment around pretty much any subject or people that take our interest. The beauty of radio (the old-school expression) is that we can take our listening devices wherever we go and still be entertained and educated on the move. This is where podcasting clearly trumps video casting.

I have always been a fan of radiotelegraphy (am, mw, fm and most recently dab) but only recently have I been able to access all the shows and broadcasters that I was previously unable to enjoy, either because of timing or because they didn’t have a platform.  Beyond the very excellent programming from the BBC, most of the shows I enjoy are from America, with hosts who speak a foreign and exotic language.  In a world where very little separates us from our American brethren – aside from the ocean – it only takes a short visit to any US city to see how the similarities between our cities and theirs barring a few tall buildings. It is reassuring, however, that we have differences, albeit through our common language.

The thing that I love most about the best American broadcasters is their incredible ability to talk incessantly on a subject matter at speed and across subjects matters without anyone really noticing the change in tack. Their ability to wax lyrical at astonishing speeds puts Danny Baker (probably one of the very best British radio broadcasters and the closest thing our island has to one of these guys…not shock jock) to shame.  This speed-talk, without coming up for air, and their ability to seamlessly move from one topic to another goes some way to explaining why US broadcasters have maintained their top spot in the world of global entertainment.

My question is this … where do they all learn this ability to talk and how can we, as outsiders, discriminate between the talented ones and the not-so-talented ones?  What is it about their culture, or their education that means so many of them have the gift of the gab and more importantly, what can we Brits do to up our game in this area?



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