Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Podcast Update

Listening to Podcasts has really become a regular part of my life over the last 2-3 years as the podcasting apps on iOS have evolved to the point where it's relatively frictionless to download and listen to shows. I enjoy being able to listen to relevant content in the car instead of the radio or music.

What I use to listen:
I currently use Downcast, which out of the myriad options I find works the best for me. The only downside to Downcast is that it can be slow as molasses if you subscribe to a lot of podcasts. iCloud sync is also not perfect and it's caused me some issues. It is also very feature laden, which I appreciate, but for the more casual listener may be a little unnecessary. I've tried other options in iOS like Instacast and I used Podcaster for a long time but I keep coming back to Downcast.

My Listening habits evolve:
As far as listening goes, I used to be a big listener of the TWiT network with Leo Laporte and crew, but lately I've gotten away from the TWiT network completely, deleting the last show off of my podcast client last week after realizing I'd been deleting it for the past 2 months. Similarly, I listened to a lot of ESPN podcasts (the "Today" podcasts and some of the ESPN Radio offerings), most of which have gone by the wayside.

I got more into the 5by5 network in the past 6 months, which I discovered via Marco Arment's twitter and blog feed, which then spurred me on to listen to other shows on the network. I've settled on a few podcasts that I listen to from there.

The newest network to garner my interest is 70Decibels, run by a British Guy named Myke Hurley. I found this network through somebody linking to the Homework Podcast and from there found a couple of other shows that I like. It's in a similar vein to 5by5 but things feel a little more fresh and there's a wider variety of voices on the network.

Shows I listen to nearly every episode:
 Economics and Money
NPR Planet Money - A great podcast on the global economy. Generally less than 20 minutes and focuses on one subject. I learn a lot from this podcast as it tends to be a great explainer.

Frekonomics Radio - a podcast that intersperses 5 minute segments on APM Marketplace with longer podcast that explorer economic topics in a way similar to the books of the same name. I'm a big fan of Stephen J Dubner.

APM Marketplace Money - Good personal finance show that is weekly and one that can be listened to in the background. 

Build and Analyze - Marco Arment and Dan Benjamin - 5by5 network - Theoretically about iOS development and development in general. An area that I don't have a ton of interest in, but I find they spend more time talking about strategy and things that do interest me a lot more. And also hobbies and lately, kids. Marco's a really smart guy and has a good take on everything iOS.

B&B Podcast - Ben Brooks and Shawn Blanc - 5by5 Network - two dudes in the iOS/Mac Sphere with popular blogs that I read. Very conversational, and could be a conversation that I'm having with one of my friends a lot of the time.

General Interest
This American Life - Podcast version of the weekly radio show produced by WBEZ in Chicago. One of my favorite radio programs of all time. Almost always a compelling listen and I've been a listener on and off since the inception of the show in the late 90s. I stopped listening for a number of years though, but the nice thing is that they fill in with old episodes pretty often. Still annoying that they only serve the last week's show in the podcast feed but I also bought their iOS App at some point and it streams all of them.

You Look Nice Today - another Merlin Mann vehicle on the comedy side of things. These guys have awesome off the wall conversations and make me laugh a lot. Not published very frequently.

11 Minutes - Similar to You Look Nice Today, a funny (and short - hence the name) comedy podcast. Can be really funny and random/off the wall.


Homework Podcast - Dave Caolo and Aaron Mahnke - Relatively new podcast aimed at people that work out of the home. While not directly useful in a lot of ways to me - I don't work at home that often - there's other concepts that are interesting here, and I like the hosts. I'm also doing some work for my wife's business at home and I'm thinking about doing more freelancing and other types of work in the future, and this is also helpful to think about that.

Mikes on Mics - Mike Vardy and Mike Schechter - another relatively new podcast which goes over productivity tools and how to get things done.

Back to Work - Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin- 5by5 Network - I like Merlin Mann, he tends to be a bit eccentric but he's one the kings of productivity and worth listening too.

Big Brother Gossip Podcast - seasonal while Big Brother is on the air. Love their take on the show and it's a good way to get a recap when you don't have time to follow more closely.

Shows I generally listen to but skip if the subject matter isn't interesting to me or I run out of time:

WTF Podcast - Marc Maron - good interview podcast with comedian/entertainer Marc Maron. He's a great interviewer and very entertaining. Have to quickly skip if it comes on while my daughter is awake as there's a string of f-bombs right at the beginning.

Nerdist Podcast - another good interview oriented podcast that also features the guys from the nerdist. I like Chris Hardwick and the other guys on this show are entertaining too. They interview interesting people.

NPR On the Media - Good show on the media business by WNCY in New York - the media business is still an interest of mine, even though I'm no longer interested in a career in it as I once was. Usually a segment show with 4-5 in depth segments, but occasionally they do full length episodes on one topic. The May 25th show about the future of television was fascinating.

Hypercritical - John Siracusa and Dan Benjamin - 5by5 network - I'm on the fence on this one. Siracusa is an interesting guy, though he tends to go deeper into a lot of subjects than I could possibly care about. But some subjects do interest me. He's a big TiVo user and where he talks about TiVo is always interesting to me. But Macintosh file systems ad naseum? Not really my bag.

BS Report with Bill Simmons - ESPN - I tend to listen to this one more in the fall when in NFL season, as during baseball season he tends to talk ad nauseum about the Red Sox and Yankees, and I don't really care about that. I don't even read Simmons column any more but I still like to listen to him talk with various people. He also will probably talk a lot about 30 for 30 when that starts again in the fall.

NPR Fresh Air Podcast - segements from the radio program of the same name. The podcast is no longer the full radio program, which is kind of nice since it was too overwhelming before.

The Talk Show with John Gruber - Gruber is kind of arrogant and that's annoying, but he's also entertaining and that's worth listening to most of the time. He's also well connected in the Apple community and has interesting insights. He recently left the 5by5 network and Dan Benjamin to do his own thing.

New Podcasts that I'm still evaluating:

Enough - The Podcast - Patrick Rhone - 70Decibels - I enjoy Patrick's writing and recently started listening to the Podcast which I find very conversational and listening. I'm guessing this one will end up on my always listen list.

Cooking With Brett and Myke - 70Decibels - Show on a wide variety of subjects. Jury still out.

The App Orchard - Podcast about applications - iOS and Mac mostly. It's shorter, generally a half hour, and interesting to hear about new apps. Warning -This is not good for your wallet in the iTunes store though. Another one that will probably end up on my always listen list.

The Bro Show - General Tech news podcast, focused on the Apple side of things. I'm not sure about this one - these kids of shows are sort of boring to me and tend to rehash things I've already read elsewhere. This is also why I ditched a lot of the shows on the TWiT network.

This is an ever evolving list as I'm pretty liberal with deleting them when I get bored with it, which seems to happen after a while.

You might be thinking - how does he have time to listen to all these podcasts? It's a good question. I have an average of an hour a day commute total (half hour each way). I listen to podcasts a lot at night around the house while doing chores either on my headphones or on the speaker dock, and then I end up listening to them while I'm playing with my kids or trying to get my 4 month old to go to sleep. I manage to make it through quite a few, but I am also liberal about deleting if I get behind. I also listen at work occasionally, but the work that I do is not generally conducive to listening to spoken word podcasts with any kind of comprehension. I also tend to listen at at least 1.5X and often times 2X which helps. The other thing for time is I try to avoid listening to daily podcasts altogether. I found that I was skipping them more than not and the content was just too much for me.