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Our world of words.

The power of listening

As a creative agency, we put a lot of effort into crafting visuals to complement the words on a page. But what happens when you strip all of that away and just focus in on a voice? 44’s Tom Ives takes a look into the world of podcasts and how using only your ears can open up whole new worlds.

I love podcasts. They’re such an intimate way of communicating – it’s just the listener and the voice.

Podcasting first became popular in 2005 and got a dedicated iTunes app in 2012. Since then it’s developed a large following, with podcasts for nearly every topic, offering a whole host of new presenters and voices – and the freedom to take them with you wherever you go.

They’re also, usually, very honest. A lot of presenters start doing podcasts as personal passion projects rather than as commercial ventures. They’re accessible to anyone and there’s endless choice – which means I can access tonnes of the good stuff I like to nerd out on.

With the absence of any visual stimulus, content is king. The chemistry between the interviewee and the interviewer, and how that is translated to the audience, is more important than ever.

Here are three of my favourite current podcasts and what they’ve taught me about keeping content engaging…

 Modern Mann

Olly Mann interviews a range of interesting people and has hard-hitting conversations with them. In one episode he spoke to a real-life cyber hacker who has now become a law-abiding, business-owning ethical hacker. The unnamed hacker explains that a childhood of abuse left him with severe trust issues. This sent him looking for ways to attack other people and to avoid being attacked himself. Computers gave him a weapon to do this with – a weapon he first used to get revenge on playground bullies by deleting their school work, and later used on a larger scale to break into banks.

Lesson 1:

Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you looked at this now-ethical hacker at work, you wouldn’t know about the difficult journey that led him to this career – this extra information gives his story new depths.

 Daily Tech News Show

American tech journalist Tom Merritt streams a new, hour-long podcast every day of the working week. And if you’re thinking there’s no way it can all be quality content you would be wrong. Tom has a new co-host each day to help him, from different backgrounds including art, media, PR, politics, gaming, security and other related fields.

Lesson 2:

You can find inspiration for content anywhere. But if you need extra ideas, get someone else on board! Tom keeps his shows varied with different topics, but also by bringing in the new perspectives of guests from different fields. Don’t limit yourself by sticking to what you know – bring in outside experts to widen your perspective.

– Song Exploder

This podcast is an incredible insight into how music is actually made. Through in-depth interviews with bands, Hrishikesh Hirway exposes their personal stories of inspiration and ideas, and also the techniques of production that make a song so powerful and memorable. They’re all good in my opinion, but if you were only going to listen to one, I’d recommend MGMT’s time to forget.

Lesson 3:

It’s not all about the final product. We all have our favourite songs, but the process and stories behind them can be just as engaging and inspiring. They might not come with a catchy chorus, but there’s a lot you can learn from stories of how things are created.

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