Do you remember at the beginning of the pandemic: many at home, public life came to a standstill, planes on the ground. “Nature is healing”, people said, because all of a sudden some wild boar passed through the city again. That was a long time ago.
Now the motto is “the world of work is healing”, and it goes back to the office. In my opinion, this form of “healing” can be left in quotation marks, but at least it gives more time to listen to podcasts. Commute to work, lunch break – good material is required.
Is there such a thing? In spring 2020 the running gag was that now – in view of the seemingly endless time and the severely limited communication options – every second person (yes, it was mainly about men) would become a podcaster. That was meant mockingly, but it could also have been nice: hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon, podcasting in the evening – a little closer to communism. So when the mills of everyday life are grinding again, will we lose a bunch of good podcast productions?
To be honest, I haven’t come across the new, unconventional formats, devised by people with a wide variety of – above all: non-journalistic – backgrounds. That’s no supprise. Work, family, mental stress: the free time wasn’t that free.
And yet it wasn’t all bad. After all, storytelling has been discovered on the German-speaking market in the last year and a half. In the USA, this has been the case for a long time. The first season of the US podcast Serial from 2014, in which the journalist Sarah Koenig opened up an old criminal case, set standards: the direct addressing of the listeners: inside, the narrative tone as if you were sitting at the kitchen table with the journalist, the concise soundtrack that led to the fact that you were immersed in the story every time you just heard the theme song.
For a long time, attempts to reproduce this in this country with true crime formats were stiff. Just Germany. But recently formats have emerged that have a relaxed approach, that work increasingly with audio collages and archive material, that have a good narrative arc – for example because the search for clues becomes a narrative thread itself.
Cui Bono: WTF happened to Ken Jebsen? is worth mentioning – recently awarded the “Prize for Pop Culture” in the “The Most Beautiful Story” category. or Wild Wild Web – Die Kim Dotcom Story. Journalist Janne Knödler (not related or related by marriage to the columnist) tells the story of Internet business man Kim Dotcom – and also the story of the Internet and copyright law. This is accompanied by cleverly built-in original sounds, sound snippets from old advertising clips and theme music that is not off-the-shelf, but fits the object, the digital world.
One of the series of good narrative formats is also 11 Life – The world of Uli Hoeneß by sports journalist Max-Jacob Ost. The soundtrack is not quite as modern and hip, but the story of Uli Hoeneß, which is also one of German football, German society and the German media, is so thoroughly researched, so full of exciting conversation partners: inside and other stories, that itself this life, which has already been told several times, is captivating.
Sure, this form of biographical search for clues can also run out of steam. And at some point there will possibly be more searchers of traces: inside than protagonists: inside. But for now, these stories are ideal for distracting yourself from the fact that you are kicking back into everyday working life with flags waving. There is almost something wholesome about it.