Simon Says » communiqué 037/November 2019

Simon Says: communiqué 037/November 2019

Hello everyone

Do you listen to podcasts?

In the last few years, this form of listening has gone mainstream. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, or what to listen to, I’ve got a few thoughts.

Before I get to podcasts, a few days ago I passed one of the locations in Pollute the Poor, the second Boniface novel, so figured it was time to mention this book again.

Pollute the Poor

The first Boniface knows about the dead body in the next room is when he is arrested for murder.

The lack of evidence against Boniface doesn’t seem to concern the police—they are sure they have the right man—they just need to prove his guilt, and while they do, Boniface is bailed allowing him to return to work with his client.

His client, a shipping company, couldn’t care less that Boniface is distracted. The client has its own problems: News is about to break that one of its ships dumped toxic waste in East Africa, leading to painful and lingering deaths, as well as widespread disability and illness. While the company privately acknowledges its role in the dumping—and its ongoing responsibility for the welfare of the victims—it is insistent that Boniface keeps the story out of the public domain until it has fully assessed how it can most effectively deliver support to those affected.

Boniface knows he has been set up for the murder—and that somebody is trying to destroy him, his business, and everything he holds dear—but he doesn’t know who has set him up, or why. He strips back the layers, discovering who the dead man was, why he was killed, why the body was dumped in his office, and why he was set up in such a clumsy manner until, he finds who has endangered his livelihood, his liberty, and his friends.

This leaves Boniface with only one conclusion: He must neutralize the threat, permanently, while at the same time trying to protect anyone affected by the dumping.

Buy the Book

You can read more about Pollute the Poor (including the first chapter) on my website.

The book is also included in the Boniface Box Set.

Three gripping novels, one low price. You can get the book—in electronic and paper formats—wherever you buy books:

Amazon

iTunes (Apple)

Kobo

Google Play Books

Barnes & Noble/nook

Podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts?

There’s a lot of stuff out there. A lot. And the vast majority of it is free. Whatever you want to listen to, you will likely find a wide and varied choice.

Podcasts offer a great advantage in that they let you easily select what you want to listen to. Then when a new episode is available, it is automatically brought to you. You can think of a podcast as being like the most interesting pieces of news, commentary, and entertainment cut from a newspaper and then delivered to your door…but in audio form so you can listen while you’re doing something else or while you’re on the move.

No Rules

There are no rules about podcasts, and this is part of their beauty.

That lack of rules means that anyone can put out a podcast on any subject that interests them. If your tastes are obscure or niche, then there’s probably something for you. On the flip side, the lack of rules does allow for a lot of dross to be pushed out, so if you find something you don’t enjoy, stop listening and unsubscribe.

The lack of rules means that anyone can podcast. Within the ecosystem, you will find professional broadcasters and amateurs. Like websites, all podcasts are equal—there is no hierarchy.

As for the lack of rules about content, so there is a lack of rules about structure of presentation. However, podcasts do tend to come in two main flavors:

What to Listen to…

If you’re looking for a place to start—or if you haven’t already listened to these—here are a few podcasts you might enjoy.

Serial

In many ways, Serial was where it all started for podcasts. Serial was not the first podcast (by a long way), but it was the first podcast that reached a wide audience alerting them that there was this thing called “a podcast” and it was the first podcast that became the subject of “water cooler talk”.

Of course, Serial was more than just something new and different—it also brought a compelling (real-life) story. The first season of Serial covers the murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed.

One consequence of Serial was that profile of the case was raised leading to a previously ignored witness being found. The discovery of that witness helped Syed challenge his conviction.

I was less engaged with the second series. The third series gives a grim explanation of how the US criminal justice system works—it’s fascinating, but is quite a heavy listen, and only for the committed. However, do listen to the first series.

Murder Book

Crime writer Michael Connelly has his own true crime podcast: Murder Book.

So far there has been one series looking at one case. The reason to listen is for the people on the show: Connelly brings in the detectives and prosecutors who worked this case.

Red Hot Chilli Writers

The Red Hot Chilli Writers are six British Asian writers led by Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee who talk about books, writing, the creative arts, and pop culture.

The star of the podcast is Abir’s Mum.

To Live and Die in LA

To Live and Die in LA is the story of the disappearance and death of a wannabe actress in Hollywood (hence the podcast’s title).

So far, there has been one season, but there will be future series featuring different cases.

Land of the Giants

Lastly, let me point you to Land of the Giants. This is a business podcast, about Amazon.

Amazon is one of the defining companies of the internet age which has, literally, changed how many of us live our lives. If you want a perspective on how Amazon works, its philosophy, and its impact—both good and bad—at a local level and more widely, then take a listen.

Ethical Issues

Before I move on, a quick word about ethics and true crime podcasts.

True crime podcasts are not without ethical dilemmas. These things are not simply works of journalism purely reporting the objective facts—they’re deep dives into the worlds behind the cases.

Many people are deeply uncomfortable with this form of podcast. Their particular concerns are many and wide ranging, but include:

Listening to Podcasts

You can find and listen to podcasts on the web—every podcast has its own site where you can find the episodes and the associated show notes. However, an app on your phone and/or tablet may offer features that give a better podcast listening experience.

Head over to my site where I talk about some of the benefits of using an app to listen to podcasts. 

Until December

I’ll be back in December. Until then, you’ve got a lot of listening to do.

All the best

Simon