The Zeal of a Podcast Convert

(Updated: 2015-07-25)

A few weeks ago, I wondered aloud on Twitter:


I had listened to some podcasts long ago, but found I never really had the time or attention span to listen to them. This was at least three or four years ago — I was transitioning from full-time work to graduate school— but now, having graduated, I was noticing that we’d entered a phase in which podcasts seemed to be gaining a good deal of popularity. Frustrated with local sports radio and momentarily bored with my beloved jazz station (sorry, WNCU… I will still be a donor / member!), I wanted to see if I could find time for podcasts in my life.

Many folks on Twitter offered helpful advice and listening suggestions. From that base of knowledge, I began constructing a set-up and programming menu that worked best for me.

Here were my available tools:
- Old iPod Classic, circa 2008 maybe?
- 2001 Toyota Corolla with AM/FM & Tape Deck Stereo lacking AV input
- Entirely too many pairs of headphones purchased over the years on the advice of The Wirecutter
- Moto X (2013) smartphone on Republic Wireless Call + Text + .5 GB data plan
- Tape adapter of unknown origin, eventually found in wife’s car
- FM iPod tuner
- A daily (on weekdays) 25-minute commute in either direction.

Now, I have other toys. Most important among them are a MacBook Pro and an iPad Air 2. So far, I haven’t done a ton of listening on either, but I will explain. First, I wanted to go for simplicity, so my main podcast player is my Android phone. The best cross-platform podcast software I could find is PocketCasts, made by Shift Jelly. And boy, have I been impressed. They have a web player, too, which is available for a small subscription fee, and it is totally worth it. Everything syncs seamlessly, podcast discovery is easy, played podcast episodes can be set to auto-delete, etc., etc. I recommend it highly. Seriously, it’s a fantastic app / service.

The tape adapter works well in the car. I had problems with it in the past, but this was likely because my tape deck had tried (and failed) to play Side 2, creating a loud, grinding sound. Checking periodically to make sure Side 1 was “playing" almost totally eliminated the sound. The headphones are all great, too, and now I listen on my morning walks and while I’m doing dishes. If I have a “driveway moment" but need to leave the car, I will finish up the podcast on the web player.

So, what am I listening to? It’s been a process of trial and error, but so far I’ve landed on 12 podcasts I really like (and, more important, that I can keep up with). Here they are, listed in loose thematic form:

- Reply All
- 99% Invisible
- Vergecast
- TechDirt
- What’s The Point (Unsubscribed 2015-07-25)
- Welcome to Night Vale (Subscribed 2015-07-25)
- The Mystery Show
- Radiolab
- LTN’s Digital Detectives
- Planet Money
- The Lowe Post
- Jonah Keri Podcast
- Grantland NFL Podcast

So far, I really like them all. Obviously, I’m interested in the internet and technology, sports, and storytelling, but I’ll tell you what really makes each of these great — the regular, cerebral deep-dives into minutiae which stimulate my curiosity and make me want to listen more. That said, each one manages to stay light and funny, and is a good overall listening experience.

I’m having fun with this!

Any comments? Leave ‘em below!


For the original in this series, see The Zeal of a Podcast Convert.

In July, I started listened to podcasts, apparently swept up in an ascendent trend of spoken-word audio. We are, it seems, in a golden age of podcasting. Many things have happened in the podcast medium and to my listening habits since then (including my spending a total of 6 days and 8 hours of time listening, according to my pod catcher of choice, PocketCasts), so I figured it was time for part two of this series, such as it is.

First, and most significantly, we lost Grantland:


Here, Bill Barnwell of the Grantland NFL Podcast, during what was suspected to be a walkout of sorts at the sports / pop culture site. In fewer than two weeks’ time, Grantland would be gone.

My first lineup of podcast listening included three from the Grantland network — now, sadly, it includes none.

Next, I got some new tools, namely a new car with bluetooth audio. Here’s what I’m working with:
Here were my available tools:
- 2015 Toyota Corolla
- Entirely too many pairs of headphones purchased over the years on the advice of The Wirecutter
- Moto X (2013) smartphone on Republic Wireless Call + Text + .5 GB data plan
- A daily (on weekdays) 25-minute commute in either direction.

Oh, and we dropped cable TV service at our house last week.

So, what am I listening to? Up from an original lineup of 12, I now keep 21 podcasts in rotation. First, some originals remain. They are nearly perfect expressions of the form:

- Reply All
- 99% Invisible
- Mystery Show
- Radiolab
- Planet Money
- Welcome to Night Vale

Somewhere in the late summer or early fall, these now-regulars entered, all of which are much more hit than miss:
- Criminal
- Material
- Re/code Decode
- The Allusionist
- The Awl
- The Memory Palace
- Lawyer 2 Lawyer
- Song Exploder

I have begun listening to some of last year’s blockbusters, too:
- Serial
- Invisibilia

The newest of the bunch are:
- The New Yorker Radio Hour
- A Waste of Time
- Withdrawn
- Channel 33 (Specifically, “The Watch")
- The Next Picture Show

And sadly, let us pour one out for the dearly departed:
- The Lowe Post
- Jonah Keri Podcast
- Grantland NFL Podcast

Finally, I’ve been keeping up with Nick Quah’s hot pod newsletter, which has been a source of inspiration for new things to listen to while I drive, do the dishes, and shred documents in my office on Sunday afternoons. Some things that I’ve heard have been truly life-changing, and almost everything has been excellent entertainment.

Any comments? Leave ‘em below!