March 14, 2016
Random Thoughts on Podcasts
As a kid, I loved the radio. I remember finding a book at a Burlington Coat Factory (that, unless memory is failing me, sold more than coats) about recording your own radio show – clearly aimed at kids, and it worked. I read about how using a ruler on a table could sound like a spring, or talking in to a plastic cup could sound like a phone call. It was fantastic.
Give how strongly I loved radio, it's weird that it took so long to get in to podcasts. For me, it took the threat of boredom on a 45 minute (twice daily) commute and Jon Hamm. Episode #5 of The Nerdist podcast had Jon Hamm, and I ate it right up. Over that week, I went back and “caught up” with the previous four episodes, and was a steady listener for the first several hundred episodes. My tastes expanded to the old Engadget podcast (eventually the Verge), with a longer back catalog. Once a week, I'd sit down at my Mac and sync up a week's worth of shows to my iPod Classic, and off to work I went.
What brings this to mind was scrolling through Overcast, the podcast app that I (along with several million other people, I know I'm no snow flake) use to listen to my podcasts. I found that it broke down storage by podcast, and I've currently got a backlog of nearly 10GB of podcasts waiting to be heard.
“Holy shit,” you're probably thinking. In my defense, I'm saving up for a 20 hour plane ride halfway around the world. Cut me some slack.
What blew me away, aside from realizing that 1/10th of my phone was dedicated to spoken word audio, was that Nerdist was on episode 788. I know it sped up, and I've had to fight my completionist self when they upped cadence to three times a week, eventually getting to the point where I'd delete interviews with people I don't find interesting. But even that has slacked, and here I am with 1.5GB of Chris Hardwick talking.
What else I found interesting was that I was struggling to determine if spending $11.99 on an app that I easily use once a day, and some days for multiple hours at a time, was worth it. Part of me didn't want to do it simply because I was burnt that Overcast had a pay option, which I paid for, that eventually became free, and again there were features that I couldn't get if I didn't drop a little cash (dark mode is the best mode). But, It's $1 a month plus tax. And it encourages Marco to make better apps, right? Supports him in that? If I had gotten off my ass and written a podcast app, I would love it for some random dude in the Midwest to throw me a ten spot for my efforts. So I did.
That got off on a tangent.
Rather than throwing out my gigabytes of podcasts to clear up space, I'm doubling down. I've been less interested in television recently – rather, more interested in specific programming and less in channel surfing – and I'm going to let audio fill the gap. So instead of clearing out space, I'll burn it down.
Another tangent: In one of my radio/tv classes during college, we talked about the motivations for radio. Did you know that there are some people who listen to the radio solely for the companionship of another voice in the room? I've realized how strongly I agree with that – not only do I enjoy the content, but I like that it engages the part of my brain that work-from-home doesn't. Granted, I'm closer to the people represented as text on the screen than I am those who are sound in my ear, but it scratches a different itch.
Anyway, I'm now halfway through Nerdist 788, and I've written another blog post. Not bad for a random Monday night.