I rarely chose to add recorded sound to my life. The sounds of the world working are often all I seek. But there are times I do bring in a little studio sound, and among the programs I consume are the podcast of 99 Percent Invisible and the broadcast of Marketplace. As is typical of non-commercial radio, these programs do not have advertisements in the usual sense, but they do have various promotional spots for their sponsors and for other programs.
As a general rule, I dislike promotional spots. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is a spot Marketplace does for its own podcast. There is something about that clip, which plays in every show, that I find so grating on my nerves that I have developed an almost reflex-quick ability to turn off the radio within the first second of the opening chord of its background music. I have tried to determine what it is about the clip that I find so annoying that I will gladly miss the opening portion of whatever piece follows it rather than be forced to hear any of it at all, but I have failed. It is vexing to identify an aspect of myself that I do not understand.
On the other extreme are the promotional spots that Roman Mars puts at the end of his 99% Invisible shows. They are not brief, and they are at the end; when other podcasts have similar promotional closures I usually skip past them, sometimes going so far as to programmatically splice off the tail end of each mp3 so that I don’t have interrupt my listening to skip them. But with 99PI, I listen to them. Not just tolerate, actually listen with enjoyment. Somehow he can make a pitch for products I cannot even imagine using not only tolerable, but pleasant and compelling. I’ve even visited the sites of the products he’s pitched simply to see if I can find some independent reason to champion in them. Again, I find myself with a reaction that I do not understand.
I shall never run out of questions to ponder; even if the world beyond ceases to amaze, wherever I go, there I am, a mystery.