Recently I’ve been listening to more podcasts and I find it interesting how different they all can handle a single subject. The recent subject I’ve chosen has been true crime. Now, I’m not familiar with a lot of true crime, so most of what is being said in jest or about particular people, I have no idea what they’re talking about, add on that I am an absolute dreg when it comes to names, and you have the making of an outsider.
If you’ve been a reader of my other blog, Quirni, then you know that my mother and I read together. She’s the one who introduced me to her favorite podcasts. One of them is two guys talking about true crime and they have a very systematic approach, the other is two girls talking about true crime and they have a very chaotic approach, it’s more conversational. I see this as a reflection of the way that poetry works too because you have those who rhyme and structure and develop their poems completely and then publish them, and those who just throw something together and publish.
Or at least, that’s how it feels and I’m sure that the girls also have a method to their madness since they actually keep their podcasts to about the same length. That takes planning no matter what anyone says. You at least have to plan how long you want to make them and then actually stop when you hit that time.
For the moment, I don’t really want to call out the podcasts because I think it’s more entertaining to talk about how they’re speaking rather than talking about the subject matter, so it’s just going to be two girls, two guys.
So here’s a rough overview of my thoughts and I’ll do my best to relate it to something you all care about, poetry.
The two women’s podcast has an outline that it follows, but it doesn’t actually plan what is going to be talked about together. Interestingly enough, both women come together to do the recording and have their own notes or idea of what they want to talk about, and then discuss it for however long one episode is.
They have a really round-about approach for how they talk about everything. They begin by just talking to one another, occasionally do corrections from the last show [they openly don’t research and ask their listeners to correct them nicely] and then getting all of the advertisements out of the way. Eventually the topic of true crime comes up naturally, because one of them can find something that relates to the story they want to share, and they get into the stories. Once one shares, the other does, and then they have a few things they do at the end of the show as well.
The thing I find really interesting is that these two discuss this in a very open and conversational manner. The way they discuss it is basically just “Oh my god, did you hear about …?” and even if the other one did know about it to some extent they’re always excited to talk about it.
I really like this style because it lets you feel like you’re just overhearing the conversation while in a cafe or somewhere that people talk. It makes me feel more like these are just two people talking rather than someone trying to inform me or gross me out.
While they’re discussing the murder, each of them are free to jump in and go on tangents and allow for that in the time of their podcast. They eventually get around to describing what happened, but it’s always with warnings such as “And this is really gross” or “If you’re eating, I’m sorry” as they break the fourth wall and address their silent audience frequently. The audience is someone sitting in on their conversation, however, and it’s primarily their conversation.
That’s way different from the two guys.
In the two guys podcast everything is very regimented. They have all of their advertisements up front and they get their plugging done for their products right away, such as products they advertise for other hobbies, and once that’s done, they’ll just bring it up if they want a break. Primarily, the podcast is all about the topic, whatever that is. They often spend a few hours on one subject too which can mean sometimes extending to two or three shows.
You can really tell that this show is planned out from subject to subject and the way they go about talking through their topic is very systematic. One episode might just be about the evidence they have on this person or that person, while another could be about a trial, or about who else it could have been.
They also have a speaker and a color commentator rather than two presenters. In this case the color commentator takes the roll of the audience completely. Whenever the speaker wants to address the audience, he addresses his co-producer. Occasionally he will mention “the people at home” but it’s usually in a detached way and the color commentator has to address the people at home himself.
This can be awkward like trying to write a blog without “you” because sometimes the color commentator will add more information about the case and the listener can tell that he knows exactly what he’s talking about, so there’s no reason to present to him in particular. It just is how they write the show.
There’s also much less time for side conversation in this podcast. They’re always on topic pretty much, and they stay to one crime, give or take the relevance to other crimes, and that’s pretty much it. They are much less likely to go off on tangents.
Between the two podcasts, they both love to talk about crime and I’m pretty sure they both listen to one another, so it’s fun to see the differences in how they operate. The two guys are trying to be as accurate as they can be, while the two girls are being very loose about their accuracy, but both of them end up with the same information in the end and both of them have to make corrections.
While the one is more conversational, the other is more like a radio show, or something where you are an audience which isn’t involved in the discussion at all. The other includes the audience on a regular basis either talking about what they’ll think, or what they might be doing, going as far as to talk about what the people in jail that they’re talking about might be doing as well. They’re completely aware that people who commit these crimes might be listening to their podcast.
I find it interesting that with two very different approaches, they both garner the same audience. They both are interesting to my mother and that’s not just because she has a lot of time to listen. She enjoys true crime, and while she’s actually supported the two guys’ podcast, I think the reason she hasn’t supported the two girls is only because they have less merchandise out and about advertised on their podcast. The two girls advertise tickets to live shows rather than stuff with a logo on it.
Relating to Poetry
These are by far two types of poems written today. One school of thought is that you should be conversational with your poetry, talk to your audience, discuss what’s going on. This is huge for poets and writers like Billy Collins. The more you can discuss with your audience, even if it is one sided, the better your poem is to this school. I’d love to call them the Conversationalists and have it actually be a thing, but I’m not writing my masters final yet.
The other type is the type where people are talking about a moment in time, or discussing something with themselves or with a set audience in the poem. There are even poems which present a story and you’re just along for the ride. This is like the two guys podcast because they have an agenda that they’re trying to develop, just like the other style, but they do it by creating a captive audience, an audience without a voice.
If you’re reading a poem about nature, you’re probably not involved unless it’s saying something in the second person, and who does that? So I find it fascinating that it shows up in other forms of spoken word. There isn’t a binary choice here either. With two people running a podcast there could be any variety of styles including creepy music, reenactments, just sharing the facts and no speculation, sharing no facts but expecting everyone to already know about it, excluding the audience entirely, relying entirely on there being an audience, and all the intermediate answers. Poetry is the same way.
In poetry today there is a mix between the different types of poems out there from poems that directly speak to the audience, to those who are just reflections of ideas without any addressing of the audience at all. You can look at poets like the confessional poets and see how they became conversational, but it’s more than just one option.
As I keep listening to podcasts, I will be interested to hear the different varieties that are out there, and see how they affect my experience listening. Personally, I am in love with this conversationalist movement, so I will be happy to see it continue in podcasts and other types of media as trends shift and grow.