Did Podcasts Kill the TV Star?

Zahra Barri

20 Jun 2022

Zahra reflects on the popular medium of the Podcast and finds a revolutionary answer to the energy crisis.

Don’t get me wrong I love to Netflix and Chill as much as the next person but with the recent news that Netflix’s subscriptions have decreased by 200, 0000 in just a year it got me thinking about how my own TV consumption has been rapidly decreasing.

I used to be an absolute telly addict. I’d watch it all day. Even when I had a day job. I was blessed with one of those day jobs where your boss can’t see your screen, which up until the age of thirty-five was pretty much my only career aspiration.

TV was like food to me; it punctuated my day. At breakfast I’d need it to get up to date with the latest political situation (watch Lorraine Kelly interview a contestant off of Love Island). At lunchtime, I’d gobble up a thought-provoking documentary on the Middle East conflict (Keeping Up With the Kardashians – they’re Armenian which is practically in the Middle East). And at dinner I’d be hungry for a feminist avant-garde film that turns the patriarchy on its head (Magic Mike). On reflection, TV was more important than food. TV was as fundamental as Prosecco at a hen do, avocado at a girls’ brunch, noise cancelling headphones at a soft play centre with my nieces.

But then in the late noughties something started to change. Society became entranced by an even smaller screen: Our phones. And with phones came a whole new portal to a new concept of modern entertainment. Never mind Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter et al, Did The Podcast Kill The TV Star?

Why podcasts are better than TV:

You can go DEEP on a NICHE…

What you lose in visual image you gain in niche. You can find a podcast on literally any subject. For example, type ‘cheese’ into the podcast app and you’ll get a show about the history of cheddar or the origins of brie. Television is less specific. Type ‘cheese’ into the Netflix app and you get the entire catalogue of the films that ever been on the Hallmark channel (aka the housewife channel). If you want to really know a subject, don’t watch a documentary, listen to a podcast. Documentaries on Netflix are like self-help books, you get the crux of the information in the first five mins and then for the next seven hours they just repeat it in different ways. Podcasts are rarely longer than an hour, there’s no fluff, just facts.

They provide both introverted solitude and extroverted interaction…

Fancy a conversation but can’t be bothered to talk to your actual friends? Listen to a podcast! It’s like you’ve got too drunk at a house party so have passed out in the bedroom upstairs and are filled with a warm glow listening to your friends’ conversations downstairs. It also feels like you’re a sneaky spy or a fly on the wall, (albeit a blind fly).

You can multitask!

You can do other stuff while you listen. You can clean your house, take a walk, have a bath, cook dinner all while listening to the dulcet tones of a podcast. The only thing you can’t do while listening to a podcast is clean in between your ears. Whereas TV is like a small child, you have to watch the little dweeb the entire time. A podcast is more like a sullen teenager you’ve just packed off to university. You can have a life while you hear all about their debauched fresher’s week and the intracies of their joint honours in philosophy, politics and media studies degree.

They make conversations an art form

And an, erm…monetised entity. My conversational skills have greatly improved since listening to podcasts. I’ve become a more interesting conversationalist mainly because I start most of my discussions with, ‘So I heard on a podcast that…’ You don’t get that with TV. For example, as a lover of conversation I decided to watch Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends which you think would have been full of riveting debate and tantalising talk. Turns out they should have renamed it to Monosyllabic Exchanges with Friends. I much preferred the podcast analysing the show, it had far better conversation.

You save money!

These figures speak for themselves:

TV licence £13.25 a month

Netflix: 8.99 a month

Apple TV: £4.99 a month

Amazon Prime: £7.99 a month

Disney Plus: £7.99 a month

The cost of electricity: 5 million pounds (minus £150 rebate)

Podcasts are FREE! All you need is a phone

(Disclaimer: I do realise that podcasts also run on electricity, and phones are not free…. didn’t think this one entirely through, I’ll be honest.)

The Only Downside

The School of Life said that the constant challenge of modern relationships is how to prove more interesting than your partner’s smartphone. I actually think the fundamentals of relationships are competing to be a better conversationalist than that of your partner’s favourite podcast. This meant that my last relationship called for me to basically turn into a combination of Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson. I essentially had to become The Patriarchy which was quite hard as a feminist and lover of The Matriarchy (The Kardashians).

Writer Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I think it’s now more like you are the five podcasts you spend your time listening to.

Now I’m not suggesting that podcasts are a replacement for actual company, but for me they have become a replacement for TV (which was a replacement for actual company). With my eyes now wide open to the world instead of glued to a set I’m starting to notice new things about my surroundings. Like the mould on the top of my kitchen ceiling…

So next time you reach for the remote to Netflix and Chill why not Podcast and Peace Out instead?

For more funny talk, stand-up videos and photos, follow Zahra Barri on Instagram: @zahra.barri.comedy and on Twitter @zahrabarri1