Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Homecoming" podcast represents the past in radio and the future of advertising

I'd like to consider myself a podcast connoisseur. I have been syncing and listening for several years and was there at the advent of the podcast craze.

Most all podcasts are of the host/guest/interview format. That works for a variety of topics, but it's much like reality TV for the ears. Then, something that was old, became new again. Scripted podcasts that hearken back to the golden age of radio in the 1930's. Inviting, enthralling.

Walter Lippmann would be proud. As he posited in 1922, we listen, then create "The world outside and the pictures in our heads."

If you'd like engage a riveting modern version of audio storytelling at its best, try "Homecoming." It's a psychological thriller from Gimlet Media that features Heidi (Catherine Keener), a therapist who is caught up in a special ops top secret government project that is working to mind-manipulate battle weary U.S. soldiers. She holds a series of sessions with Walter Cruz (Oscar Isaac). Playing the most abrasive boss ever is Colin Belfast (David Schwimmer). Arrested Development’s David Cross and comedian Amy Sedaris are also incorporated into the plot.

(Photos: Getty Images, Andrew H. Walker / FilmMagic,
Bruce Glikas / Film Magic, Jason LaVeris)
What works the best in this podcast - aside from the quality acting - is the sound effects. When you get to part 6, with Heidi on the run, you will understand. I think it's much like the reason I never went to see "The Passion of the Christ" when it caught fire in 2004; I like my own version (pics in my head) better than Gibson's.

I believe our love for media can come full circle. Back to quality, well crafted writing, and actors passionate about the project. And for advertising, you can't know where you're going, until you know where you've been. Think back to the early days of radio. A sponsor was announced as presenter, then recognized at the conclusion, by thanking the audience on behalf of the sponsor. Clean, simple and it worked. We're cluttered now, we weren't cluttered then. Consider the mess we've made of Internet media, the intrusive, I-can't-click-you-away pop ups and ads that obscure us from reaching the content we most want to connect with.

Let's consider starting over. Advertisers, create package deals to sponsor quality podcasts like Homecoming. Craft tasteful intro and close segments for the shows. Instead of pushing your products, consider an end segment where you, as an advertiser, comment on the quality and meaning of the podcast's content and why it's relevant for today's society.

That's an authentic brand association. Supporting the listener experience, not violating it. There were initial reports of a 2017 Homecoming podcast season, but now it is reported the popularity of the series will take it to the TV screen. Truthfully, I wish not. The voices, the sounds, my own visualization as it happens, that's the magic of "Homecoming."

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