I’ve been listening to podcasts for nearly a decade, but I’ve never felt more out of tune with what shows I should be listening to (“should” because they’re too good not to). I think it has a lot to do with how seldomly the people I follow actually talk about and share what shows they enjoy. I don’t often hear anyone talk about other podcasts on the shows I listen to and there isn’t much discussion of podcasts among the Twitter users I follow. And, I think that’s a shame.
I fell in love with podcasting when Leo Laporte, the host of one of my favorite television shows when I was younger, started producing what was then known as Revenge of the Screensavers (later renamed This Week in Tech). The Screensavers had turned into Attack of the Show! at that point and had lost everything that made me fall in love with it. But, now I could listen to all of my favorite TechTV hosts talk about what I was passionate about — technology — and I could listen to it on my MP3 player on the bus ride to school. It was wonderful.
The subsequent several years was great for podcasting with dozens of incredible shows debuting that I’d hear about in the podcasts that I already listened to. But, now I don’t hear about other shows as often as I used to.
In an effort to understand how someone would solve this problem, I’ve had brief moments over the past several months in which I’d thought about what a podcast sharing service would look like. I thought about what a great developer would be able to do if they started with the idea that podcast enthusiasts could upload an OPML file of their podcast subscriptions. The developer of such a service could lobby podcast client makers to build functionality into their podcast clients that would make uploading an OPML file easy for users on mobile devices.
At that point the service could see what users with similar taste to you listened to and suggest shows based on that data. Users could highlight specific episodes to share that they especially enjoyed and recommend them on Facebook and Twitter.
I still believe that such a service should exist, but unfortunately I don’t have the time or the resources to build it. Maybe that’s something I could get in touch with a developer about at some point in the future. But, for now this idea will be relegated to living inside of a note in Vesper.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Joe Caiati published a link to Joe Darnell’s piece in which he published a sort of First & 20-style screenshot of his podcast subscriptions. And, in the absence of a service like the one described above I thought I’d do the same.
What I’m Currently Listening To
The subscription image below is simply a a pile of four screenshots of my Overcast subscriptions stitched together with Tailor. They are listed in alphabetical order as this is how Overcast dis plays them by default.
by Robert McGinley Myers and guests
Board Games Weekly
by Dave Caolo, Erin Doland, Matt Donle, Aaron Mahnke, and Darren Moser
By The Way, in Conversation with Jeff Garlin
with Jeff Garlin and guests
by Cybele May and Maria Smith
by John C. Dvorak and Andrew Horowitz
Diagnostics & Usage
by Joe Caiati and Cody Coats
Flip the Table
by Chris Michaud, Jered Hunnefeld, Flip Florey, and Chris Barter
by Aaron Mahnke and Dave Caolo
Jordan, Jesse GO!
by Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris
Never Not Funny
by Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap
by Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak
Roderick on the Line
by Merlin Mann and John Roderick
The Talk Show
by John Gruber and guests
with Rob Paulsen and guests
This Week in Tech
by Leo Laporte and guests
Upvoted by reddit
by Alexis Ohanian and guests
with Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, Chris Plante, and other Verge writers
My Use Case
My subscription list doesn’t change too often, when I find a show I like I usually stick with it beyond the point at which I no longer enjoy it. Which is odd, but I don’t listen to every episode of every show I subscribe to. There are shows that I never miss — like Roderick on the Line, No Agenda, and the Talk Show — and then there are other shows that I pick and choose what episodes to listen to or occasionally skip depending on how far behind I am in my listening.
When I stop enjoying a show I usually skip several episodes before I start to think about dropping it from my subscriptions. And, once I realize that I haven’t listened to it in a while I’ll make a point to try listening to one last episode before I decide to unsubscribe. It takes a lot for me to make that decision, I’m just too worried that I might miss a great episode if I unsubscribe.
Because of my opposition to unsubscribing, I often speed up the podcasts I listen to in Overcast. I always have Smart Speed enabled and when I speed up a show it’s usually set to one tick below 1.5x. I don’t think it ruins the experience, as John Lagomarsino argues in his recent piece on the Verge. Instead, I see it as a way to increase the amount of learning I can do in a given day by allowing me to listen to more podcasts.
There are shows that I listen to at normal speed, though. No Agenda and Roderick on the Line are two shows that I often listen to with my fiancée. Since she only listens to podcasts with me, she hasn’t had the opportunity to work her way up to listening to shows at a faster speed. It’s jarring to go from normal speed (which is how every other non-podcast medium is experienced) to nearly 1.5x speed, so I play them back at 1x to accommodate her.
Most of my podcast listening takes place while I’m at my day job during the times when I’m on the clock, but we’re not open. I also listen to them while I drive, while I’m laying in bed before I fall asleep , and while I’m cooking or doing chores around the house.
Podcasts are perfect for ocopying your mind while doing mundane tasks. They’re entertaining and informative, require very little effort to manage, and there’s an endless variety of shows with topics that anyone can enjoy. Podcasting is an incredible medium that I can’t imagine myself ever abandoning.