The Extra Long Bumper Music

Posted Jan 28, 2012 by bn

Hi everybody!

Thank you very much for listening to our show. We work really hard on it, and are super excited to be able to talk to you in this revolutionary format!

Faithful Listener Tom recently emailed me some supportive comments:

I’ve really enjoyed the Titanium Physicists Podcast so far! But, I have one small complaint: the intro and the outro music are too long. When listening to a podcast, especially one I hear often, I don’t want to have to listen to 2 minutes or so of introduction music before getting to the content. Similarly, the outro music takes a while, which can be annoying when I’m listening to the podcasts back-to-back, and have to wait through it to get to the next one.

Otherwise, I’ve loved the show! Keep up the good work!

Thanks, Tom! It’s not your imagination! The music clips  are indeed much longer than the theme music clips for most radio shows and podcasts (and you’re not the first person to say so). I agree that it is inconvenient, but I’d like you to know that the length of these music clips are deliberately quite long. I thought you might be interested in the reasons for this.

My reasons for choosing to put extra-long music clips are the start and end of the show is  culturally motivated, and you might find it kind of interesting. 

While I was planning the podcast, I needed to confront a terrible truth: Listening to half an hour of physics -even Super engaging and fascinating physics- is kind of a slog. You need to pay careful attention at the very start of the show, or you won’t understand the middle of the show. and even the most interesting and well-paced conversation becomes difficult to follow after 25 minutes! I believe that the mandate of our show is to present the listeners with technically advanced ideas which they have never heard before, so simplifying the content  is not an option. But If the listeners become frustrated because they frequently lose track of the conversation they might decide that the show is crummy and stop listening. 🙁

To confront this issue, I adopted a japanese solution. (I’m half japanese, but I was raised in western canada, so please do not write a thesis based upon what I’m about to say). Let us consider the tea ceremony.  The ceremony is deliberately single minded in order to refreshingly contrast with the complexity and urgency of everyday life. Thus, the practitioners of the ceremony face problems similar to those I face in the Ti-Phy podcast: how to transition people from a tired and easily distracted state-of-mind to a refreshed and attentive mind?

Their solution is clever. They frame the experience of performing the tea ceremony with an experience which is meant to distract, refresh, and focus the minds of the participants. They often do so by placing the tea house in a garden, so that before the ceremony can begin, the participant must (physically and metaphorically) leave their usual habits and refresh themselves.  To enter the tea room, they often have to walk down a winding path, purify themselves by washing out their mouths, and pass on their knees through an uncomfortably small door.  Once they have been shaken from their day-to-day mindset and their senses have been refreshed, they are more easily able to engage in the singleminded awareness of the tea ceremony.

Inspired by this solution, I decided that my best chance at making an enjoyable podcast which is both understandable and technically advanced, would be to try to put the listener in an optimal state of mind at the start and end of the show.

I carefully chose a fun song with an energizing beat and an engaging tune for the start of the show. A song which takes your attention away from your bus ride or treadmill, and makes you want to jump along to the music. I chose to put an extra-long clip at the start of the show in order to be sure to wake you up out of your day, and sharpen your attention.

Similarly, I chose a slow song with a curious beat to end the show. I play an extra-long clip of the song in order to give you a break, and let your mind relax a bit. Kind of like how they turn out the lights and let you stretch at the end of an aerobics class.


To summarize, in order to help you understand Ti-Phy, I deliberately frame the show with long-ish music clips with the hope that it helps to put you in the right frame of mind to listen to the challenging conversation.

Does it work? Is it ineffective? Feel free to tell me your opinion, I’m always excited for feedback. I really find it helpful when you tell us what you like, and what we could improve!

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