Last night I subscribed to a handfull of BBC podcasts to help fill up the longer walk that I now have to and from the station. My PSP dutifully downloaded them while I was fast asleep at 6am, and then I deleted most of them a couple of hours later.
Because the production quality was gash, that’s why.
Each of them had been produced at a different volume level. Every single one of them contained promotional stings that had volume spikes well above the level of the actual content. The worst offender was The Rock Show podcast, with a loud intro, followed by in-studio pieces at one level, interviews at another, and unnecessary stings louder still. Deleted & unsubscribed.
I also get two video podcasts from CNN – one is a daily news update and the other is called In case you missed it. The pair are at slightly different volume levels, but nothing too drastic. The latter contains an annoyingly tinny audio sting between segments that is especially sharp when you’re listening through earphones.
Which is the point that both the BBC and CNN seem to have missed with podcasts; the vast majority of their audience will be listening to these with earphones on. In terms of audio, they have a captive audience. So there’s no bloody need to pull the same kind of volume stunts they do on TV, like compressing the audio during advert breaks to grab the attention.
The CNN ones I can live with, because the individual podcasts maintain a sensible volume level – plus they’re free. The BBC ones I pay for through my TV License. Or at least I hope I do – aside from the journalistically sloppy website and annual Wimbledon coverage, I get very little else for my money. I’m certainly not happy about my contribution to the bloated salaries of Eastenders‘ actors and whatever ridiculous figure they’ve given to Bernie Ecclestone for the rights to F1.
So, until the BBC can produce something that doesn’t have me frequently wincing for the volume control, they can stick their podcasts and I’ll just keep resenting the tax I have to pay them for owning a TV.