The Wonderful World of Podcasts

Headphones sticking out of a backpack pouchReally, folks, I don’t spent every waking minute reading blogs and immersing myself in the wonderful world of podcasts. I do have to remind myself, though, just as I used to remind myself about my book-reading habits, that sometimes taking in all this material from other people means that I’m not participating as fully as I might in my own life. That being said, I’ve greatly enjoyed getting into this whole new way to access a very old type of information, that of the spoken word. Instead of my just having the radio on to Colorado Public Radio and being forced to listen to whatever they’re droning on about, I get to choose my material to keep me company while I’m walking or cooking or cleaning.

I’m pretty sure that anyone reading this post knows what a podcast is, but just in case you don’t, or you’re not sure, let me explain:

I think of podcasts as portable radio shows. Just as we are no longer bound by the TV schedule to watch our favorite shows, we’re no longer bound to what our local radio stations broadcast. Instead, audio segments are available on a number of platforms and can be listened to at any time, with the easiest device to use being, of course, your smartphone.

You can access a podcast in a couple of ways. Let’s say I’ve heard that one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, has started one. So I google his name and find out that his show is called “Revisionist History.” I’m given the opportunity to sign up for updates via email so that I’ll be notified of future releases, which I do. I then click on “episodes” and I see a list of both seasons’ episodes that have already been released. I can pick one that sounds interesting (I’d recommend “McDonald’s Broke My Heart“) or just choose the first one. Either way, I can click on the “play” icon to listen to it on the spot through my laptop or my smartphone, or I can click on “download” so that I don’t have to worry about cell/wifi service wherever I go since the material will be on my device, or I can click on the “subscribe” icon and get a list of subscription services I can use. If I do that, I’ll be given a list of options. Since I don’t have an iPhone, I don’t pick the Apple/itunes option; instead, I myself use something called “Stitcher.” The Stitcher app can be downloaded on a phone through the Google Play store, but I’m not going to go into that. You either know how to install apps already or you can get someone to show you. Once you have the app, you can easily add podcasts to your “favorites” playlist by using the search option and the plus sign. It’s pretty easy. You should get notifications when any new episode pops up, but you can also just go into the app and check out your favorites list, something I do all the time because I’m too impatient to wait.

I just counted up the number of podcasts I have on my current list and it comes to 32. I don’t follow all of them all the time, and there are some that I’ve taken off but might add back in. So that number isn’t final or anything. About half of them are political; I don’t plan to discuss those on this blog but will do so for “Intentional Conservative” at some point. That leaves several broad categories: those having to do with leading a happier, more productive life, those having to do with home organization and decorating, those that deal with history, and those that explore mysteries of the past and present, usually having to do with crime, usually murder. I used to have more of the mystery podcasts; as of right now I have only two. I got into the podcast arena, as many people did, by way of the first season of “Serial,” the show about the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee murder case, and nothing, nothing, has ever measured up to that one. Then I got into the main spinoff shows about it: “Truth and Justice,” “Undisclosed,” and “Crime Writers on Serial.” All of those are still going, but I’ve kind of lost interest in them, as they’ve moved on to other cases that I just haven’t found to be very compelling. (So that’s why I’m not linking to them.) “Crime Writers on” has recommended other mystery podcasts that I’ve tried out, but they usually didn’t last past the first season in my books. The fact of the matter is, once you’ve covered the big famous cases you start running out of material. There’s plenty of murder and mayhem out there, but not all that much mystery. I’ve even gotten tired of dear Justin and Aaron over at “The Generation Why” podcast. They’ve gone through all of the classic cases and all of the most interesting current ones, and now they’re kind of grasping for material. (But I am including a link to them because their earlier episodes are pretty good.) So the mystery podcast genre has pretty well flamed out for me. But that’s okay—there’s plenty of other stuff out there.

You can learn a lot from this material as you do other things–double-dipping, as it were. I’ll be posting about my favorites in some other fields in future posts. In the meantime, do a little googling on subjects that interest you plus the word “podcast” and see what pops up.

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