The Merciful End of My Blogcast
Suppose you are determined to convert your written blog into an audio blog—what I think of as a “blogcast.” Suppose, on top of that, you are an incompetent reader of blogcasts. Finally, suppose you aren’t about to spring for a $500,000 text-to-speech synthesizer. What to do?
I consulted a profession closely allied to that of blogging—legerdemain—and immediately had my answer: misdirection. Magicians are masters at manipulating the audience’s attention, sending it in a direction opposite to which all the important stuff is happening.
So that’s what I would do. I would take great pains to divert my readers’—I mean, my listeners’—attention from the lousy reading job I was doing by piling on beguiling bells and whistles that would make the blogcast seem like a slick, professionally-produced audio experience.
I plotted this operation like it was the second invasion of Iwo Jima. I read “The Idiot’s Guide to GarageBand” from cover to cover. I practiced reading-in-the-shower. I sprayed my throat with a plant mister. Finally, I decided to make my blogcast a family affair. All this was happening in about January 2020.
Two of my sons are musically talented (no, they didn’t get it from me) and my wife has a pleasant speaking voice. Perfect.
I asked Son #1 to compose a brief, 30-second ditty or “jingle” to introduce the blogcast. I asked Son #2 to compose a similar ditty to end the blogcast. I asked my wife to record a “welcome to the blogcast” that she would read over the introductory ditty, and also a “thank you for listening” note over the ditty at the end of the blogcast.
With all that bewitching stuff going on, what listener would be churlish enough to notice the blogcast was badly read? Nobody, that’s who.
While my sons were composing their pieces, and while my wife was practicing saying, “Hello, and welcome to Gregory Curtis’s blogcast!” and also, “Thanks for listening to today’s blogcast. We look forward to seeing you next week!” I practiced reading my blog for minutes and minutes.
But this wasn’t just any practice. Like I said, this was Iwo Jima. I shut my office door, having first taped a sign on it reading “QUIET PLEASE, STUDIO IN SESSION.” I fired up GarageBand, tweaked this dial and that dial, and pressed the button that would—at some undetermined time in the future—launch the introductory ditty.
I then pressed a button that, also at some undetermined time, would launch my wife’s welcome. I then read the blog title and its text. Since each post is about 1,000 words long, it takes roughly three minutes to read it badly and about 10 years to read it well. I read it badly.
Finally, I pressed the button that would, someday, launch the closing ditty and the button that would, someday, launch my wife’s thank-you-for-listening message.
I played it all back in my mind and it was flat-out sensational. “Radiolab” would text me for tips. “Serial” would cancel their season until they could regroup. Hollywood would soon be calling.
Then the real world intervened. Although my blog comes out on Friday mornings, I have to get it approved by Greycourt compliance before it goes out. Which means I normally finish writing it on Wednesday and send the draft to compliance that day, or, latest, Thursday morning.
The necessary result of that writing-and-approval schedule is that I have only a brief window of opportunity to read the blog into GarageBand so that it will be ready for listeners on Friday morning.
But guess what? I travel on business almost every week, so what were the odds that I would happen to be in my office/recording studio on Thursday to read the blog post into the digital audio workstation? The odds were almost zero. In fact, the first three upcoming Thursdays last January/February I was visiting NYC, San Antonio and Cleveland, in that order.
My plans came to a crashing halt. No introductory or closing ditties would be composed, no welcomes or thank-yous in my wife’s voice. Iwo Jima would have to be invaded some other time.
Well, I consoled myself by thinking, so what? Wasn’t all this just a slippery slope anyway? First there was the written blog. Fine. Then there was the audio blog. But would it end there? Hardly.
Next, readers would start demanding a video version of the blog—yes, there is such a thing. It’s called a “vlog,” and it would not, one hopes, feature my smiling face. And once that somehow happened, what next? Might I encounter an avalanche of inquiries insisting that I create an avatar of Your Humble Blogger joining you for breakfast to chat about why you hated that morning’s post?
Huh uh, no way. This began as an analog blog and it was going to remain an analog blog, blogcasts and vlogs and avatars be damned.
True, a few readers might be unkind enough to point out that, since I killed the blogcast idea back in February, we’ve been in a pandemic, with hardly any travel at all. Surely I could have recorded an audio version of the blog on most Thursdays over the subsequent six months.
True enough. But consider this, hypocrite lecteur: recognizing how annoyed readers were about not having an audio version of the blog, imagine how peeved they would be if they got such a version and then had it taken away from them when business travel resumed. I have six kids; I know how this works.
I’m sure you see my point, even if you can’t listen to it.