My Must-Listen Podcasts

June 9, 2006 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I subscribe to a great many podcasts. However, I've noticed over time that there are a few I absolutely must listen to as soon as (or within a day of) when they come out.Interestingly, as I look at my must-listen preferences, they tell me interesting things about the kind of mobile audio information I feels works best in the context of my life. Generally I don't feel an urgent desire to listen to the same kinds of content that I read.

I'm not quite sure what to make of all this, but I thought I'd put it out there as food for thought. Here are my must-listen podcasts, and what I find compelling about them. I'd love to hear your list, too…

In alphabetical order:

  • Denver Post All News Podcast (feed): A short (10 min. or so) daily rundown of top headlines from all the major sections of the Denver Post. I find I prefer to to get my morning blast of what's going on in the world in audio format, as I'm making breakfast and getting errands or chores done, before settling in front of my computer. Usually I'll listen to Colorado Public Radio while I'm making breakfast, then grab the Denver Post podcast for cleaning or running errands. This show was on hiatus until its recent return with Steve Alexander, who's doing a great job. I've been traveling a great deal in the last few weeks, and it's nice to have news from home (I live in Boulder, CO.)
  • Future Tense, from American Public Media (feed): Jon Gordon prepares these short (5 min. or so) segments for radio broadcast, but they're also distributed by podcast. Each show focuses on one cool tech or futurist topic. I generally catch this show while running errands, doing chores, or working out.
  • Mental Health Missives, by Dr. Fran the Occupational Therapist (feed): One of the Podcaster News shows. Like most of us, I'm close to some people who deal with mental health issues or mood disorders. Also, I generally believe mental health deserves more public awareness and less stigma, and it's simply fascinating as well. Although there's a lot of mental health info available from many sources, I like Dr. Fran's short, thrice weekly, down-to-earth, research-based, matter-of-fact approach. And she just sounds like a really cool person too. Shows are about 5 min each. I listen to this during chores, errands, or workouts.
  • On the Media, podcast edition of the NPR show from WYNC (feed): This news magazine show is about an hour long, and it's the only lengthy show I feel I must listen to as soon as I can after downloading it. Obviously I have a passion for media, and I like the challenging tone of this show. And I like that the hosts don't take themselves too seriously. Also, this show does not get aired in my region, so if I didn't catch it by podcast I wouldn't get it at all. I generally listen to this during workouts or errands when I know I'll have a solid hour of listening time.
  • Polyamory Weekly, by Cunning Minx (feed): This show ranges from 20-50 min, so I usually start it just as I'm heading out for the gym or on a long errand. I'm poly, so I enjoy listening to a show that addresses my lifestyle and community in a thoughtful, wide-ranging, and fun way. Minx is an excellent host who does a great job of incorporating listener contributions to the show. While the show sometimes strays into topics that aren't my cup of tea, I always want to listen.
  • The Seanachi (feed): Impeccably produced, generally short (5-20 min) original humorous and weird stories by Patrick McClean. Published erratically -– how fitting. This guy is so twisted, funny, and talented I can't resist. Don't miss his series How to Succeed in Evil. Great stuff while I'm going out for a walk.
  • Slashdot Review, by Andy McCaskey (feed): People often ask me how I find out about all this geeky cool stuff. Often, the answer is "Slashdot Review." The uber-popular geek forum Slashdot is both a gold mine and a slag heap for all things geeky – technology, society, freedom of speech, science, you name it. I rarely bother to wade through it directly. Thankfully Andy McCaskey wades through it for me. He provides well-produced 10-minute daily segments with overview of the most interesting topics on Slashdot. Each segment ends with some music from Garageband, but I usually don't listen to that since his musical tastes and mine don't generally coincide. This show is generally a perfect length for quick errands.

What this list tells me about myself:

  1. Shorter shows usually get my attention faster. If a show is 15 minutes or less, I'll probably put it higher in my queue, since that fits my day better.
  2. I prioritize shows partly by the host's personality. All of the hosts sound like people I'd enjoy hanging out with. I like how they cultivate a sense of personal connection in their shows. Most of them genuinely seem very interested in audience involvement.
  3. I don't need polished audio to be happy. For instance, Mental Health Missives is pretty basic in terms of audio. But I do need great content. All these shows deliver that, almost every time.
  4. Good, prompt show notes help immensely. Most of these shows offer blogs where there's a posting associated with each audio show, giving links and references to things mentioned in that episode. I find this incredibly helpful. I rarely save podcast audio files, but I often save show notes for especially interesting or useful episodes in Furl.
  5. I make fun listening a priority. I genuinely enjoy all of these shows, in different ways. The only one I feel obliged to listen to for objective reasons of keeping up with the world is the Denver Post headlines show – and even that show is fun. (Steve Alexander can't resist a ripe pun.) I listen to other podcasts (such as IT Conversations) for professional or purely informational reasons, but I tend to push those back and may not listen to them until days or weeks after I download them.

Make of that what you will. Did you see any notable patterns here that I missed?

What are YOUR must-listen podcasts that you usually play as soon as possible after downloading? Also, which ones do you download but then hold off for days or longer to listen? Please comment below.

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