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The power of podcasts

By Ashley Frisenda

I’m not trying to sound like a cheesy infomercial here, but are you tired of typing the same old dictations over and over? Are you bored with the same material day after day? Are you trying to increase your speed and your dictionary at the same time, but you can’t seem to get yourself to your stenograph machine with excitement? Look no further! I am here to tell you about the power of podcasts. As a student of stenography, I found myself worn out from my routine of typing the same dictations repeatedly, and some days, I just couldn’t mentally bring myself to do it. I desperately needed to hear new material. Some of my dictations were like a song that I couldn’t get out of my head, repeating themselves over and over until the point of insanity.

And then a few years ago I found podcasts, and my world of practicing stenography was flipped right‑side up. I was finally excited to sit down and start practicing! It was a way for me to warm my fingers up and listen to something interesting before I dove into my 250 wpm dictations that I’d been trying to master for a week and a half. If you haven’t used podcasts as a means of warmup or study, you’re doing it all wrong. Podcasts are audio files right at your fingertips, and with a click of a button, you could be typing to any subject in seconds. And when I say any subject, I truly mean any possible topic you could ever want to learn about. Do you want to know more about outer space, how to manage money, or even about the evolution of horses? It’s all there. Simply put the topic you want to know about in the search bar, and podcasts involving that topic will appear for your choosing.

I love all things BBC, CBC, and NPR, and they all have numerous amazing podcasts for so many different topics, including the daily news you would hear on the radio. For my true‑crime junkies out there, there is enough content to last a lifetime. TED talks, seminars on microbiology, Dateline TV episodes that they have converted into podcasts — you name it. It’s all there for you to listen to on iTunes, Spotify, or the podcast app on your smart phone. And did I mention they’re free! If you’re an audio book listener like a lot of us are these days, save some money and check out podcasts for a change.

Not only am I listening to a great story or learning about an interesting new topic, but I am constantly adding words to my dictionary that I didn’t have in there before the episode. I add about 10 to 15 new words to my dictionary any time I listen to a podcast. And if you’re trying to meet a goal speed like myself, apps like Spotify and iTunes give you the option of increasing or decreasing the speed of the audio, and that way you can type to the speed you feel is right for your level of practice. I cannot express how much podcasts have changed my outlook on practicing and helped me get to my goal speed, all while making me laugh, cry, and every emotion in between. It broke up the monotony of typing the same dictations repeatedly, and I would not be at the level I am today without podcasts. Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Ashley Frisenda, RPR, is a court reporter in Tampa, Fla.