COLM O'REGAN: It has come to my attention that podcasts are mighty yokes

This week on Stating The Bleeding Obvious, it has come to my attention that podcasts are mighty yokes altogether.

I know, I know. I sound like a man who has not discovered the joy of vol au vents until his 70s. 

Podcasts have been around for ages but in the past year I am on board so it’s official now. 

There are many different types but the genre I seem to favour is experts talking about things they know a lot about and taking a long time to explain something. 

They are a welcome antidote to people talking through their backside on stuff they don’t know anything about because there’s a panel on the programme to discuss it for ten minutes to fill a spot between the Vet Answering Your Questions, and the weather. 

If I want to listen to that I’ll listen to myself.

I have been that talking head and will continue to be because a job’s a job, but there are times when I just want to say “What are you asking me for? Why not ask Professor Expert McKnowington who spent a lifetime studying it. I’m only repeating what I saw on the Internet.” 

History podcasts are good for your mental health if you’re feeling a general gloom about the state of the world. Say there’s a barrage of KinihanBrexitTrump news, flick on 45 minutes from the Middle Ages and you’ll feel a hell of a lot better.

Okay there wasn’t climate change or a difficulty in concentrating because of social media, but EVERYONE DIED, as in, ALL THE TIME. They died of things that we use band aids or wash our hands to prevent now. 

And if they didn’t die of natural causes, they died because everyone went around killing everyone for land, cattle, religion, for being in the way to the throne, for being in the village when it was sacked. 

They do that still in some parts of the world but back then they did it outside your house to you before you had so much as a chance to put down your crude farming implement.

Podcasts slow you down. There’s no rush. No “I’m sorry we’ll have to cut you short there. Let’s got to Brian at AA Roadwatch.” 

I’m listening to one at the moment for the last year called the History of the English Language. The presenter is 109 hours into the thing and he’s still only on the 13th century.


It’s been going for years but I caught up within months. It was a chase as relentless as the time RTE caught up with the ‘English’ Emmerdale Farm by running it every day. 

I think podcasts have changed commuting, made it tolerable. Hook your smartphone up to a cheap bluetooth speaker and a whole new world of choice opens up. 

If you’re trapped on the M50, you may eventually tire of news from the Labour Court or a bantertastic breakfast show. 

Switch on the Memory Palace podcast and suddenly you’re transported to 1913 San Diego where a man tried to use chemicals to make it rain and ended up being sued when the whole place flooded. 

Or if you’re feeling trapped in your car you’ll feel better when you turn on Ear Hustle, a podcast made from San Quentin prison about people who are serving 100 year sentences. 

Now Ear Hustle simultaneously makes you despair for the harshness of the US Judicial system with its penchant for 3-strikes and but also a little envious. 

You might wonder if we couldn’t bring a little bit of that harshness here – even a modest 100 strikes and you’re out for our more careerist-criminal latchikos. And no ads. 

Maybe the odd softly spoken ad. But not someone shouting at you about Sales that are ending in ten minutes time. 

I’m telling you, I’m a decade and a half late, but I really think these podcast things are the future.


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