Category: <span>Podcasts</span>

It’s been a while (a year!) since I wrote about podcasts but with my recent change of job, and a 30-odd minute commute by bus, I’ve been hunting about for some more podcasts to fill my time, and on the way I’ve ditched a couple I used to listen to, so I thought it worthwhile popping a list of my current subscriptions here in case anyone else has the same, admittedly specific and narrow, set of interests as me.

In saying that, most of my choices of whether to subscribe to a podcast or not is largely based around time. Anything over 40 odd minutes doesn’t make the cut – every rule has exceptions of course – and my subscriptions are varied as I’ll happily listen to someone talking about pretty much anything as long as they are engaging and passionate about their topic. I’ve dropped a couple of podcasts recently purely because of the voices, shallow I know but I really don’t want to spend 30 minutes cringing at every gasping adenoidal breath of a host who offers neither passion nor much humanity as they speak.

However looking at the list of my subscriptions (below), it does have a fairly narrow focus that covers design, tech, Apple fanboy stuff, comedy, food, science and desert island discs, so if anyone has any suggestions please leave a comment, doesn’t really matter what the topic is, as long as it’s around the 30-40 min mark (or less!).

So, in no particular order, here is my current list of podcast subcriptions:

  • TEDTalks (audio) (subscribe) (website) – the audio only versions of the TED talks, doesn’t always make sense without the visuals, YMMV.
  • Answer Me This! (subscribe) (website) – random questions answered with humour, knowledge and pathos (ok, not pathos, swearing. Whatever).
  • Song Exploder (subscribe) (website) – Take one song and break it out, artists discuss inspirations, production ideas and how a song becomes a song. Fascinating.
  • a16z (subscribe) (website) – Discusses trends, news and the future of a world being shaped by technology.
  • Serial (subscribe) (website) – The rule breaker – usually at least one hour long but an indepth look via investigative journalism, at one true story. Fascinating.
  • Clockwise (subscribe) (website) – Four people, four topics, tech/geek/apple fanboy tastic chat.
  • In Our Time (subscribe) (website) – From BBC R4 – Melvyn Bragg and guests the history of ideas, usually in great detail. Challenging at times, always interesting.
  • Canvas (subscribe) (website) – two fulltime iPad users talk iOS and mobile productivity. Every episode (so far) has been full of useful hints, tips and apps.
  • Refresh (subscribe) – a show about things we plug in, program and play with – from the people who brought you Cards Against Humanity
  • Radiolab (subscribe) (website) – a show about curiosity, where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
  • 99% Invisible (subscribe) (website) – MY CURRENT FAVOURITE – Design is everywhere – a weekly exploratoin of the process and power of design and architecture. ALWAYS fascinating and way more entertaining than it sounds.
  • No Such Thing As A Fish (subscribe) (website) – MY SECOND FAVOURITE – The QI Elves discuss four random topics. Irreverent, educational, funny, rude, enlightening. A simple format that really works.
  • Gastropod (subscribe) (website) – Food with a side of science & history.
  • The Allusionist (subscribe) (website) – Linguistic adventures, a look at words, how they came to be and how they shape how we act and think.
  • Thinking Allowed (subscribe) (website) – From BBC R4, discussions on how society works.
  • Desert Island Discs (subscribe) (website) – From BBC R4, truncated show (they can’t play all of the tracks) so you get the chat without having to listen to all of the music choices.
  • Ctrl-Walt-Delete (subscribe) (website) – Walt Mossberg (hence the name) and the Verge editor-in-chief discuss the last tech news and ideas.
  • The Broad Experience (subscribe) (website) – Discussing issues facing women in the workplace today.

Hopefully someone might find something new in the above list!

Ohh and I’m still using Overcast, largely because it works and does some clever little things that help – my favourite feature is probably the button that lets me skip 30s forward as I’m really fed up hearing about Squarespace and Mailchimp – and it also has a good directory which has helped me find some of the above podcasts.

Got a suggestion? Drop it in the comments!

Podcasts Tech


I’m way way behind the curve on podcasts and I’m laying the blame firmly on my parents and their use of radio.

I grew up in a house where music was the backdrop to most activities – my first hearing of Appetite for Destruction? My Dad loaned the cassette from the library and I walked in as Welcome to the Jungle kicked off, epic! – so I never really had much of a view of things like the Shipping Forecast, radio plays and so on. I’m sure my parents did listen to ‘talk radio’ on occasion just not when I was around so I’ve always associated radio with music.

I won’t bore you with tales of recording the Top 10 to cassette, but my maturing musical tastes have mirrored my growing distaste for radio DJs and all the talking, yak yak yak they go, largely spouting nonsense and noise when all I really want is to listen to the music. So I’d turn off the radio and start listening to my own music; the rise of the MP3 made this approach all the more satisfying.

Of course the real problem wasn’t radio at all, but my choice of radio stations. Thank heavens for the internet I say, as I’ve many more ways to find music I like and, as the charts descended in mass produced pap… sorry, pop, I increasingly looked to the Pitchforks of the world to find new music. For quite a while I eschewed all radio as, wrongly, rubbish.

Recently that’s been changing as I’ve switched on (sorry!) to the richness and depth of talk radio, and whilst that’s largely been via Radio 4 at present, I’ve been enjoying the discussions, debates, and plays on offer. But how did I get here?

Bye Bye Radio

From tapes, to MiniDiscs, to CDs, I’ve spent countless hours creating playlists and recording it to the media of the moment. Where MP3s triumphed was speed, create a playlist on your computer and seconds later it’s copied to a USB stick. Roll forward a few years and, with all my music stored on my iPod, a quick sync was all it took to update several playlists and I had hours and hours of music at my fingertips.

An avid consumer of new music, I’d scour review sites and buy several new albums every fortnight or so, soon building a bank of new artists and albums (yes, I had a system for this to make sure everything got a good rotation).

So with my appetite for music being whetted elsewhere, and perhaps with my advancing years, I looked around for something a little less full-on for my morning commute.

Talk is cheap

Most mornings I’ll listen to the news as I drive to work, although it depends how much tolerance I have for whatever topic they are manhandling into a forced argument on any given day. Leaving work at odd hours to drive home (sometimes mid-afternoon, sometimes late evening) meant I was exposed to more of the planning and soon found I was getting drawn in and seeking out more alternatives.

Hello Podcasts

Podcasts are not new, I’ve listened to a few now and then but in the past, with my association for radio (which is still how I view podcasts oddly) being music, none of them ever stuck. Perhaps I was just listening to the wrong podcasts, god knows there are some awful ones out there but that’s the same for everything.

However, I was determined to find podcasts that work for me, so after a fair bit of digging I’ve not got a nice workable solution that gives me a selection of podcasts available to me on any of my Apple devices.

The latter part of that solution is provided by Downcast, a multi-device podcast app which syncs my playlists. It’s installed on my iPhone, my iPad, and both MacBooks, so if music isn’t cutting it I can get to many different podcasts and usually find something to keep my attention.

Admitedly some of my these aren’t strictly podcasts but recordings of radio shows but I’ve never really been one for following rules, all I know is that they are spoken word recordings that give me an option when the radio fails me and I’m not in the mood for music.

My current playlist includes:

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, any recommendations to share?

Media Podcasts Tech

Ohh it’s the new blogging, is it?

Could be, everyone’s at it, and it’s guaranteed to be “mainstream” now that iTunes support it but, and please don’t think of me as some neolithic oaf but what IS all the fuss about?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking those who are doing podcasts, I’ve heard some very good ones recently and as an extension of a blog they give an extra dimension to the personality behind the microphone of a type you only normally get when you meet some in person (real life, remember that? fresh air, no keyboard and REAL people, what a concept! It’ll never catch on that one…).

However let’s get this straight. A podcast (blogcast, whatever) is, unless I’m hugely mistaken, mainly a recording of someone talking, with the occasional spot of music thrown in. Right? Err… and this is a new idea? Well obviously it’s not (and just in case you miss my point, I’m referring to that old favourite, of the more refined knob twiddlers out there, radio) but I’ll tell you what is.


I can tune into hundreds, nay thousands, of radio stations right now and with a bit of searching I’m certain I can find a station that suits my interests. However the limitation of radio is that, because it’s being broadcast, it has to try and appeal to as many people as possible, even if the core subject is fairly specialised. Podcasting doesn’t have that limitation. Because YOU choose to download and listen to it, it can be as specialised and insular as it wants, the only person it has to please is you.

Anyway, if you’ve been on the ice planet Hoth for the past few months, then here are a few links to get you into podcasting. Ohh and ignore the “pod” part of the name, it’s not limited to iPods or MP3 players, you can create and listen to them on your PC.

As for me, well I’m gonna leave this one alone for the meantime preferring to remain elusively enigmatic and mysterious. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered (you can always listen to me on the radio if you’re desperate – 2.7MB MP3).

So, are podcasts the future of blogging? Possibly but I doubt it, at least not for a while. Too much like hard work at the moment, so until it becomes a lot easier to do I think it’ll remain on the outskirts for a while longer. However once it becomes a simple point and click exercise then I think they’ll soon be popping up all over the place. But then I’m sure they said the same about “audio blogging“, but they’ve been wrong before.

The real question is whether anyone can bring something NEW to podcasting. That’s where the challenge will lie, a true blending of the internet and radio is what is required and what has been sorely lacking so far. However cracks that one will leap ahead and we’ll have our first A-list podcaster.

Blogging Podcasts Work

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