Audiobooks, Blogging, Personal growth

Rising popularity of Audiobooks proves our love for storytelling

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My love for storytelling started before my addiction to podcasts. It actually began about 25 years ago. I was making the two hour trip back to Mt. Pleasant from metro Detroit. Our oldest daughter was strapped into her carseat in the back, asleep. I popped a cassette into the player and I was soon fully engrossed in a book — an audiobook.

I can’t recall the exact title of that first audio book. But, I know upon reaching home, I wanted to keep driving to finish the story.  I realized why children love bedtime stories.

Audiobooks are not a new form of media. In fact, back then there were retail stores where you could rent an audiobook. Much like the Blockbuster method, you could rent an audiobook for a few days and return it to the store when done. I frequented a small chain called Talking Books in the metro Detroit area.

The audiobook industry has evolved over the years. Nowadays, it’s much easier to listen to audiobooks. Thanks to sources like Audible, you can download more titles than you can possibly consume. Easy access for sure; available for a fee. The cost can add up, depending how many books you choose to download.

Audiobook listening is growing in popularity. Recent figures from Nielsen Bookscan show sales of audiobooks doubling in the last five years. A group of 18 well-known authors are bypassing print and going directly to audiobook format with a new collection of short stories. Could be the sign of a new trend.

In my constant quest to find things for less, I recently discovered an abundant collection of audiobooks for FREE. Our local public library is an incredible resource. The Chippewa River District Library – Veterans Memorial Branch offers far more than just the titles it owns. By tapping into public libraries throughout Michigan via Digital Media Zone, users can borrow hundreds of titles through the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative.

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Checking out an audiobook can be done without ever walking into a library branch. There’s an app for that, of course. OverDrive app makes it simple and fast to search titles, select an audiobook and download it to your device – aka … cell phone.

If the book you’re interested in is not available, you can place a hold on the book. Once the book on hold is returned to the library, it’s added to your “shelf” ready for downloading. An email alerts you to the book’s availability. You’re allowed two weeks to listen to the book. Upon the deadline, it will automatically be returned to the library. A very efficient process. All done remotely. It doesn’t get much easier or more convenient, and the best part … not late fees.

I’ve always been an avid reader, however over the years, lack of time and exhaustion have limited my reading consumption. Listening to books is a perfect fit for my multitasking lifestyle. Now, while I’m driving, exercising or chores around the house, I’m “reading’.

I’m on my fifth audiobook since discovering freebies from our local library; almost caught up on John Grisham novels. The choices are endless.

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Blogging, Habits, Personal growth, Podcasts

My top 3 favorite podcasts. What’s in your ears?

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I am a big fan of podcasts. Some might say I’m obsessed. On headphones or on my handy little portable speaker, a podcast is almost always playing. Someone talking in my ears has replaced the sound of music.

I could blame my oldest daughter for my latest obsession. A few years back when picking her up from law school for a holiday visit, she introduced me to “Serial”. The NPR podcast series was red-hot at the time. After consuming a few consecutive episodes,  I was hooked.

The attraction to podcasts can probably be traced back further. As a child, we all loved to have a story read to us. Podcasting is storytelling at its best. I have a renewed love of a story and appreciation for how many stories there are to be told.

Podcasts are not new. They started as an outgrowth of Apple’s iPod. It was an effort to bring original programming to MP3 devices. Back then, getting access to most podcast shows was a pain, not nearly as easy as it is today. Listening to your favorite shows no longer requires the laborious steps of downloading to your computer, plugging in your iPod and then transferring.

Smartphones have made it easy to access podcasts and has grown the audience by leaps and bounds. New apps allow the opportunity to listen to shows directly. Cars equipped with Bluetooth connections play audio from smartphones through car speakers without plugging in.

The popularity of podcasts is definitely growing. Edison Research says podcast consumption is surging. People listening to podcasts every week listened to an average of five programs per week. I count myself in on these stats. 

Certainly, room to grow the audience. Asking my journalism students, who has listened to a podcast recently … or ever, only a few hands raised in response. Forcing them to choose a show to give a listen, I heard lots of positive comments about talk versus music in their ears. Perhaps the audience of podcast listeners has grown, just a bit.

The library of podcasts on my phone continues to grow. Here are a few of my top three  current favorites. I highly recommend adding each to your library and giving talk versus music a try. I’m eager to hear what you think. If you’re a podcast listener, I’d love to hear what’s playing in your ears.

#1 Reveal – 

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As stated on its website — “The Center for Investigative Reporting’s award-winning journalists hold the powerful accountable and reveal government fraud and waste of taxpayer funds, human rights violations, environmental degradation and threats to public safety. We consistently shine a bright light on injustice and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Their mission is noble — “We engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy.”

Launched in 1977, the organization has been serving as a watchdog for more than 40 years. Voice of REVEAL’s podcast, Host Al Letson takes his job seriously and it shows in every broadcast.

Favorite episodes: 

Where criminals get their guns

This episode: “Across the country, criminals are arming themselves in unexpected ways. In Florida, they’re stealing guns from unlocked cars and gun stores. In other places, they’re getting them from the police themselves, as cash-strapped departments sell their used weapons to buy new ones. On this episode of Reveal, we learn where criminals get their guns and what cars can teach us about gun safety.” – REVEAL

Rise of a movement

This episode:  “While covering Sunday’s “Rally Against Hate” in Berkeley, California, today, Reveal host Al Letson witnessed a man being attacked by a group of protesters. The man was balled up on the ground, fending off blows from several people. Al jumped in front of the batterers, protecting the man from further injury. On this special episode of Reveal, Al talks about what happened and how the battles between right- and left-wing protesters are playing out.” REVEAL

#2 – How I Built This with Guy Raz

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Guy’s voice alone will reel you into this podcast. His interviewing style and genuine curiosity about everyone’s success story is infectious.

As described on website: Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Favorite episodes: 

Starbucks: Howard Schultz

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Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

“Jerry Murrell’s mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,400 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America.”

Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman

Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has an annual revenue of $100 million.

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#3 The Daily

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This daily rundown of current news is a great way to stay informed on the latest happenings. Part of the New York Times news network, The Daily is hosted by seasoned journalist Michael Barbaro. The 20-minute podcast focuses on a top story of the day, bringing in the reporter who covered the story for an insider view. This leaves the audience knowing a bit more than most people. Each episode ends with a brief rundown of other news you need to know. Worth 20 minutes of your day.

Serial – best of the best

If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, best place to start … Serial – season 1. There are 12 episodes. Trust me you’ll want more when done.

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