Episode 102: The Accelerated Audio Mentality

Radio — like film, music, TV, theater, and dance — is a temporal art. It relies on the passage of time to play with anticipation, tension, and release. A good radio producer knows how long a thought will linger in a listener’s consciousness, and either grants her that time, or purposely denies it. A conversation between two hosts is riddled with pregnant pauses and interruptions designed to head off miscommunications. We’re used to these patterns, and a good podcast is paced to play into them. Why, then, should we mess with that balance in the name of efficiency?
— John Lagomarsino, The Verge, February 17, 2015.
No one has yet broken the four-minute ‘TED Radio Hour,’ but in Cambridge, Chris Kalafarski, a senior developer at the online platform PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, has trained himself to listen to podcasts at twice the speed of Ira Glass.
’My brain has adjusted to it,’ he said. His brother’s brain, he noted, has not, so even though Kalafarski uses an app that eliminates the high-pitched chipmunk problem that comes with a faster speed, his sibling hates being in the car when Kalafarski turbo-charges podcasts to twice the speed — or 2x, as the speed-listening crowd puts it.
— Beth Teitell, The Boston Globe, November 6, 2015.

For those who listen to podcasts on any number of applications, software has paved the way to speed up content and consume it more quickly. Various listeners report enjoying shows at 1.5, 2 or even 3 times the recorded rate. While this may seem like a simple choice to some, what might be the long-term outcomes of such decisions? And in looking back, what aspects of our culture, our sense of patience and time and our personal interests might compel us to consume content more voraciously? Should content creators be more conscientious of listener needs and preferences?