Curling Podcasts ... Yes, They Are a Thing
007 - Podcasts have become my main form of media consumption. (In case my interest in fantasy curling has not convinced you that I am a middle-aged, white man, perhaps that last sentence did.) I have referenced them before, and I will continue to reference them. I quote from them constantly in conversation, and I just now realize how boring I must be to speak with. The truth is, I love listening to or watching intelligent and gifted people share their passions. This is why I watch whitewater kayaking in the Olympics or any of the major golf tournaments on TV. I do not participate in either of those sports and have no desire to take them up. I am amazed, however, at the virtuosity of those performers and can only begin to imagine how much time and effort it must take to make the nearly impossible seem routine. I get equally transfixed by truly talented singers and musicians and can sit through the most arcane academic talk, as long as the presenter is engaging and clearly knows his or her stuff. TED Talks were revolutionary to me, before it became clear that almost anybody can give one now. I seek out intimate encounters with excellence and enthusiasm. In simpler terms, I like nerds. I like to watch them show off the talents that they have painstakingly honed through years of work. I like to hear nerds talk about their work and I like to learn what excites these people. This is why I gravitate towards podcasts.
I have curated a list of podcasts that are hosted by scientists, comedians, digital media creators, statisticians, and writers. It is a diverse group of individuals that I play through my headphones, but they are all passionate about their areas of expertise, uniquely talented, and generally funny. I would love to sit and have a conversation with any of these people for the same reason I stare unblinkingly at some guy wearing a visor as he tries to put a little ball into a plastic cup for the seventy-second time in four days. I queue up podcasts because I get a feeling of listening in to witty conversations or sitting in a presentation given in a small venue, afraid to stretch my legs for fear of disturbing the microphone.
As I jumped into the world of curling this summer, I immediately sought out some podcasts that would get me up to speed. You would be amazed at how many curling podcasts there are out there! They seem to pop up and then wither, as creators realize that the listener numbers were not what they expected. (Unlike blogs about fantasy curling, a place where view counts resemble the National Debt Clock.) Some of these podcasts sound like they were recorded on a Playskool cassette recorder and others are so granular in their discussions that a newbie like me gets lost. Now my search was by no means exhaustive, but I did find most of the episodes I heard to be tiresome. There is one exception I would like to point out at this point.
Kristefor Lysne and Jordan Wiklund are two Minnesotans who host StoneCast. They focus a lot of their attention on the Twin Cities, and the club-level events and personalities they encounter while curling. They have taught me very little about the World Curling Tour and what picks I need to make in my fantasy league, but I am nonetheless transfixed. They are interesting and clever, and they interview like-minded friends. They speak a lot about the sport they love and the work they have done promoting curling while maintaining the perspective that they are only talking about curling. They are passionate enough to remember key moments in matches from years ago, without losing sight that they participate in the sport for the camaraderie and socialization. In short, I feel like I am listening in to conversations between friendly nerds … my people. They also have a sense of production value, which makes their recordings infinitely more pleasant to listen to than the other shows I tried to adopt.
As an East Coast Elitist, I do feel a fair warning is needed at this point. This is a podcast created by Minnesotans and for Minnesotans. The North-Central accents run strong. I am not talking Jerry Lundergaard, but perhaps a little Norm and Marge Gunderson. So if you are more comfortable with the rapid-fire cadence and intonations one hears in Boston or New York, you may want to increase the playback rate of your podcast app. I recommend 1.2x.