Great day, feeling good, spring in the step. Door closed behind me and I step out into a beautiful day to begin my daily walk. Earphones planted firmly in my ears, I hit the "play" button. The dulcet tones of the radio announcer says "this is a download from the BBC, to find out more visit BBC.co.uk/Radio4, followed very closely by the voice of Melvyn Bragg introducing his program "In Our Time, The History of Ideas". A huge smile appears on my face. For the next forty-five minutes I will have the privilege of listening to a panel of scholars sharing their knowledge with me and anyone else who wants to listen, brilliantly orchestrated by Mr Bragg.
Am I in London listening to the UK's public radio broadcaster, the BBC, on Thursday at 9.00 o'clock in the morning? No I'm in Sydney Australia, it's 3.00 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, two weeks after the broadcast. I'm setting out on my walk down to the harbour foreshore, in the sunshine with the birds singing, the flowers blooming and all is well. I'm listening to a podcast via my portable MP3 player.
Did I have to schedule my walk to coincide with the radio broadcast? No. Will I get only one chance to hear what the experts are saying or if I get distracted will I miss those intricate bits of knowledge that require you to listen so very closely? No.
Why? Because I have a recording of the program to play at a time that fits my Wage Slave lifestyle and as many times, as I want. And guess what? It's free, no cost, nada, zip, zero. Yes it's true. We have been given the keys to the kingdom of knowledge because we can listen to time-shifted quality radio programs via a podcast.
A Podcast is an audio recording, usually in an MP3 format that can be downloaded to a computer via the Internet, then transferred to your MP3 player. Yes, we now have access to a portable world of historical documentary and anything else you would like to listen to, music included.
In Australia we have an inspiring public radio service called the ABC and in the UK there is the BBC. Who allows themselves time to listen to these radio stations when their lives are so busy? The public radio stations transmit a wonderful world of knowledge every day. The problem for the Wage Slave is that the broadcasters' schedule has made the world of quality radio practically inaccessible.
In my world the Wage Slave works three to five days a week, some work seven. We are so stuffed when we get home from our stressful day that after we rush around taking care of our responsibilities, we flop in front of the mind numbing Television, until it's time for bed. We may listen to a little light radio before going to sleep. The next day comes and we do it all over again. Morning radio blasts out hyped up fast talking DJ's accompanied by a limited selection of pop or news programs.
We have moments in our life when our minds are receptive to quality knowledge unfortunately those moments usually don't match up with the strict timetables necessary for radio. Quality radio has been freed from its shackles and as a result we are free, at last, to enjoy it, be it music or documentary, at a time of our choosing.
We have been given the keys to the kingdom of knowledge. Thanks go to the inventor of the Podcast, Adam Curry. And a thank you to the public broadcasters who work enthusiastically to give us free and easy access to quality radio programs via podcasts.