How to get into listening to Podcasts
An enthusiast's self-help style guide to finding podcasts on the Web, and following them
One thing I love to do more than most is listen to and watch podcasts; because I’m strange when it comes to pumping sounds into my eardrums as music isn’t something I am interested in. I listen to other things instead - things like people -- people speaking. This phenomenon is called podcasting (for which the Wikipedia entry is actually quite interesting). As I understand it, I enjoy podcasts as much as any normal person enjoys music; and because of that, I’d like you to meet someone. Random blog-viewer, meet Podcasts: Podcasts, meet this random blog-viewer. Now, be nice, you two!
I’d like to share with you why I like podcasts and how I came to like them.
Don't make the same mistake as me
First, I’d like to explain how I first started finding podcasts. This was some time ago, probably when I first got a good smartphone. I downloaded an app and immediately began to search; I think ‘Android’ was my first and it returned quite a few results. The problem was that all I was provided was a list of podcast titles and, at that time, some rather crude album artwork. This is nowhere near enough detail to make an informed decision about what you want to listen to, or watch. Don’t make the same mistake as me. This put me off podcasts as that addiction factor just wasn’t there. I couldn’t be hooked.
This intrigued me and reignited my interest in podcasts
After a long time, I began to stumble across websites which happened to have podcasts. I would be browsing as normal on the common tech blogs and news sites I follow, then I would notice ‘live’ and ‘podcast’ tabs in their navigation bars. This intrigued me and reignited my interest in podcasts. Perhaps this was a critical, universal advance in on-line publishing (the move of the general content creator from text to audio-visual productions): perhaps a random coincidence, but in any case, a brilliant thing for me! Sites like The Verge with its considerable focus on multimedia productions despite being a text-based, technology-culture blog, were the first to catch my attention. They were the bridge to a true interest. I guess this is the first step to getting into podcasts: look at sites you already follow for podcasts. They will have things you know you like, and you will be able to get to know the people who write the things you read every day. What’s more, you can find out more information on the website of a podcast - show notes and the like are usually available and they help a great deal with keeping track of everything discussed. When you first start listening and watching, this is extremely helpful as a transition - text to accompany the podcast.
This is very useful in helping you understand the conventions of the show
I mentioned briefly that getting to know a podcast’s hosts is important. If you feel you know the people who are talking to you, you’ll be more likely to enjoy what they’re saying. To this end, I advise you take some time to listen to or watch a few randomly selected episodes from the back-catalogue of the show. This is very useful in helping you understand the conventions of the show. This, too, is an important tip. For example, I have recently become a fan of the (entirely SFW) NSFW show from TWiT and, in order to understand all the inside jokes and crazy history to the soundboard, have begun listening to every single episode up until this point - that’s around one hundred and twenty. I’m at number sixty-two and have to say listening to the shows thus far has helped a lot. Do it.
Podcasts are the next generation of media
Another important thing when it comes to podcasts is variety. It’s a good idea to stretch the genres and types of your subscriptions as far as possible. This is important as, much like TV shows, you will find you like a range of different things; the news in the morning and comedy and drama at night, for me, translates to TNT in the morning and a mixture of The Verge’s creations, NSFW and The Industry’s podcast as my night-time television replacement. This is quite an important comparison in my eyes. I have completely unplugged the aerial from my television and now rely solely on the Internet for content. With podcasts and catch-up services like iPlayer and its friends, I’m happy. Podcasts are the next generation of media for me - just as good as TV shows, maybe even better, and much more suited to my niche tastes. If you are like me and have a specific interest - who’d have thought technology would still be so unpopular in mainstream media at this time? - podcasts are most definitely the thing for you!
A quick summary of my tips
So, to conclude, here’s a quick summary of my tips:
- Don’t judge a podcast by its album artwork
- See if your favourite websites have podcasts and follow them first
- Find out more about podcasts on their websites
- Look for show notes
- Get to know the hosts and the past of a podcast
- Don’t just subscribe to things you’re interested in, try other things for some variety; you might end up liking them too!
Here's a list of my favourites
If you still have no idea where to start - perhaps you don't follow too many sites or just don't know about the quality of podcasts, here's a list of my favourites:
- Everything from The Verge
- Tech News Today
- Macbreak Weekly
- The Industry Podcast
- TNW Daily Dose
- The Talk Show
Have fun listening to your new podcasts! And remember, there’s something out there for everyone.