An idea that hit me recently was that my generation and a little older, say up to about 65, is the first generation to have had television available from birth. People older than this would have had some time in their life when a television in their home was not a thing.
I quizzed my editorial team (my Mum and step-dad Mauri!) on what they remembered about the introduction of TV and life before the Goggle Box.
Memories of TV’s first years
My own mum and dad used to hire one from Radio Rentals as they were too expensive to buy outright for most families. I was 3 months old when the first TV came into our family home. Before that, radio serials were a big part of life. With some of the favourites being When a Girl Marries, The Goon Show and Caltex Theatre.
You needed to buy a license for listening to the radio and watching TV. My mum didn’t pay for hers once and ended up in court!
There were many more cinemas than today. Mauri says:
“The visual appetite was satisfied by the local cinemas. When living at Kogarah we had the choice of Rockdale, Kogarah & Carlton – all within walking distance. Two more at Hurstville weren’t much further away. I can’t remember the entry prices but it must have been affordable because we went quite frequently.”
When TV’s were first introduced they were the focal point of attention. People would stand outside shops and watch with a crowd. Since not all households had a TV, families with them became very popular! If you went to someone’s place, eyes would stay locked on the television and there was no conversation. I remember my paternal Grandfather being glued to the set in his TV room. My brother and I had to tip-toe past and not disturb him.
Transmission time was limited to certain hours and the stations would close down. Even I remember the test pattern! Colour TV came to the Australian market in time for the 1976 Olympics. The first colour transmission on ABC TV (the government-run station) was Aunty Jack. Aunty Jack is an Australian enigma. You’ll need to see it to believe it!
These days podcasts step right back in where radio left off. The ability to be freed from a screen while still being entertained is very satisfying. I have added to my list of favourite podcasts. The most recent addition to my listening library being “A Beautiful Anarchy”.
Back in the 1950s TV was the big disrupter. A technology that no doubt caused many people to lament the state of future generations. We talked about “square eyes” in the same way we are now concerned about screen time.
These days I watch very little “TV” as in free to air shows. I do use the TV for streaming of shows on subscription services like Netflix. We no longer have to wait a week for the next installment of a series, as we can watch on-demand. In fact, many people wait until the whole season is available and binge-watch it. Many shows are released all in one go for just this express purpose. I wrote about some of my favourites in a previous post.
YouTube has become the instruction manual for so many aspects of our lives. Need to know how to change the seal in your washing machine? You’ll find 50 different versions.
The internet has meant that we have the ability to create our own version of TV. This is good and bad. It gives people a voice but also means that some of the loudest voices are the ones that mean to do us harm. It also means we get to hear about things that perhaps others would like us not to hear. It’s power to the people, use it wisely!
I have added a new item to my pre-travel checklist; downloading podcasts so I can listen to them offline. Twelve to fifteen hours worth! In addition to the 12 hours or so of downloaded TV series/HBO movies etc I am set for two international flights.
I haven’t listened to the news on the radio in my car since May. My car’s bluetooth picks up where I left off on the last episode of whatever it was I was listening to.
I have become a podcast junkie!
I have learnt many things and heard lots of inspiring stories. On the downside, I know all about Blue Apron subscription food services, more about mattresses than I care to, including how much cheaper they are in the US compared to Australia. Dry shampoo, bras that fit, shipping options, and how Uber is changing. Podcasts are usually free so to be viable they must have advertisers or some sort of paid subscription model.
I was not an early adopter and only discovered podcasts about 3 years ago. It’s now my preferred form of entertainment. It helps that I live alone and therefore don’t have to worry about having it interrupt other people.
If you are into reading blogs you probably already know what a podcast is but I thought I would do a little googling to find out the whys and wherefores of podcasting. I found this “quirky” (insert weird) little video which defines podcasts in some depth.
This infographic from podcastinsights.com shows that podcast listeners are loyal, affluent and educated. More men than women listen to podcasts.
What are the benefits of podcasts?
Nearly half the listening is done in homes, and over 50% of US households have listened to podcasts. Lots of listening happens in the car. I suspect the statistics are similar for Australia. The real driver behind podcasts has been the rise of the smartphone and the ease at which you can connect to the myriad of podcasts available.
While there have been lots of negatives that have come from smartphones this has to be a positive! Although decision fatigue may be a problem with so much to choose from.
Unlike books and movies or other visual formats, podcasts don’t tie you down to one spot. You don’t have to look at a screen. You can plug in your headphones and head off anywhere. Podcasts are 100% portable and allow for multitasking.
Many podcasts have an accompanying website which has “show notes” which includes links and more information about the content of the episode. Sometimes it has the whole transcript.
This is very handy because it’s frustrating when you are driving and the host mentions something you want to follow up but you don’t have the tools to write a note without breaking the law. (Hack: carry a little notepad and pencil! You can’t get fined for using that at the traffic lights!)
What I am listening to.
I have i-devices so I use iTunes although these days they have rebranded to Apple Podcasts. Here’s the rather eclectic list of the shows I subscribe to.
My current “A” list.
I try to listen to these each week.
Side Hustle School: Host Chris Guillebeau. https://sidehustleschool.com/podcasts/ American. Daily episodes of about 10 minutes with a monthly longer extended cut. I have had this one on high rotation and went right back to the first episode. Now I save the daily episodes up to listen to in one go on the weekend. It’s all about making money on the side without quitting your day job. Sometimes it makes me squirm a bit when I think about all the useless stuff people are trying to make and then sell as it does not fit in with my values of using less and re-using more. Still, it’s given me some ideas for ways to supplement my income which I hope to put into action in the next few months.
So you want to be a writer: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/ep-244/ An Australian podcast hosted by Valerie Khoo and Alison Tait, both writers. Val is the head of the Australian Writers Centre. It’s free and has no ads except for courses at the AWC. It’s cheerful and Val and Al have a great rapport. The content includes interviews with writers and gives lots of writing and publishing tips. It also has a Facebook group you can join. One weekly episode, about an hour.
So you want to be a photographer: https://ginamilicia.com/category/podcast/ Another Australian one produced by Valerie Khoo but this time with Gina Milica. You can listen in the car but because they are talking about photography and have lots of images on the website you really need to look at the show notes. Includes interviews and tips. Val and Gina are a bit racier than Val and Al and some episodes are very funny when they have had a few drinks! Gina and Val are both great ambassadors for Australia. If you are not Australian, you’ll love their accents! Once again no ads except for Gina’s photography courses. One weekly episode, about an hour. A Facebook community supports the podcast.
My B list
I really enjoys these too but I save them for longer trips and listen to a few episodes at a time.
All in the mind.http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/ Hosted by Lynne Malcolm and supported by one of Australia’s national radio stations Radio National. It’s about all things psychology. They explain things very well and talk about psychological problems as well as wellness and positive mental psychology – one of my favourite topics at the moment. Some fascinating insights into people who experience things like synesthesia where they “see” sounds in colours or even flavours. Weekly and the length varies but it’s usually around half an hour.
Modern Love.https://www.nytimes.com/podcasts/modern-love A spin off from the New York Times column. Weekly, around 30 minutes. TV personalities read the essays published in the NYT about “love, loss and redemption”. Sometimes uplifting sometimes not.
Chats 10 Looks 3: http://www.chat10looks3.com/ Hosted by Australians Leigh Sales and Annabelle Crab, who are both political journalists/commentators. This is a very funny slightly rude look at all sorts of things but not politics. They have a bit of a cult following in the 30 – 50 year old female demographic. Good for a laugh. Weekly-ish about an hour. They also do live shows and there is a VERY active Facebook community.
The full catastrophe – Australian ‘celebrities” and pollies talk about embarrassing/terrible things that have happened to them and the War on Waste – a spin off from an ABC TV show.
My C list
I was listening but have stopped
The Minimalists. https://www.theminimalists.com/podcast/ Weekly-ish and often more than an hour. Josh Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemis are THE minimalists. I had this on high rotation in 2016 and 2017 and listened to every single episode and the entire back catalogue. Then I got the feeling they weren’t saying anything new. I also felt that they were “middle class privileged white boys” who could choose to be minimalist etc etc and it rankled my politics. The message however is on song – don’t use too much, conserve what you can, buy experiences not things. I haven’t listened for more than 6 months. I might catch up on my next long flight.
Happier by Gretchen Ruben. https://gretchenrubin.com/podcasts/ This was recommended by Chris Guillebeau (the Side Hustle guy). Weekly for a longer episode and one mini episode midweek. Gretchen chats with her sister and they offer advice on how to be happier. They are wealthy, white and privileged. It got on my political goat. Especially when they started talking about buying material goods to make themselves happy. While they talk about less materialistic ways to happiness, the conversation around getting the “perfect” black purse put me off. I am probably their target audience being relatively wealthy, white and educated, but I don’t know…I just couldn’t get into it. Having said that it was peppered with a few good ideas so maybe I will give it another go, perhaps I just overdosed and need it on a longer turnaround rather than back-to-back.