What if a Podcast Wasn’t a Podcast?

Everyone loves a mystery.

There is something embedded deep within our nature that attracts us to the mysterious. The more information about something you remove, the more people become interested. Of course, there’s a limit, as you can’t completely remove all information. But if you can give just the right amount, you will keep people’s rapt attention. The new Unrecorded Podcast tows that line of giving people just enough information to create an intriguing mystery.

In a nutshell, the Unrecorded Podcast is just that, a podcast that isn’t recorded. Everything is set up exactly like a podcast, with hosts (Patrick Rhone, Dave Caolo, and CJ Chilvers), the occasional guest, and a regular schedule. However, the key difference is they simply never press record, so no audio of what actually occurred is ever created. What makes it of value to others is that they release show notes with a small recap and a list of links that relate to their discussion. This list is emailed to subscribers instead of an actual recording of the podcast.

It is a bit hard to wrap your head around this idea, and I had trouble at first. Why would you not record it? Isn’t the recording the most valuable part of a podcast and the show notes simply a supplement? What is the point of simply reading seemingly random links with no real context?

All these questions went through my mind. However, as I thought about it more and actually had the first episode’s show notes sent to me, things clicked. This podcast is about the joy of mystery. If the Unrecorded Podcast was actually recorded, it might be enjoyable, but would have no mystery and probably not stand out from the hundreds of other podcasts with geeky guys talking to each other. Yet, giving people only the show notes gives it that mystery, and the subscribers are free to create their perfect vision of what was discussed, which most likely is more entertaining than the reality.1

I don’t really even consider this a podcast, but more a unique experience that they are giving to the subscribers. You are
getting this email every week, which contains a little mystery that you can explore through the links. It’s completely different than listening to a podcast, but still something that is enjoyable in its own way. People tend to be afraid to break precedent and try something completely new. I applaud Rhone, Caolo, and Chilvers for willing to be truly creative and subvert the way podcasts have been done for the past decade.

1. J.J. Abrams gave a great TED talk about his love of the unseen mystery.