Introduction to Podcasts


What are Podcasts?

For the last three years, I’ve been using a rather uncommon method of getting weekly news and gathering information that I’d otherwise be reading. I’ve been listening to Podcasts, and They are so good that I’m having a hard time scheduling them and I’m not alone, there are a few but growing number of users to such shows.

So, what are podcasts? And why is there a growing minority listening to them so frequently? Podcasts are periodicals. They’re like TV shows but in smaller snippets and are in Audio format most of the times. They can be talk shows, news casts, comedy gigs, or better stories narrated to you every week (I love those).

Most of the podcasts I listen to, range from being 5 minutes long to about as long 2.5 hours but the engagement level is immense. You can tune into anything you like and get a lot of insight.

Clockwise News
Clockwise is a great podcast about catching up with news every week. Every week a bunch of tech journalists get together and discuss about four important tech stories of the week.

Likewise a podcast called Serial is an audio periodical, a real life story of a murder that happened 16 years ago. The host explores the possibility that the wrong person was put behind the bars. It’s just as exciting a murder mystery as a TV series on the same might be!

Where and How can I listen to them?

Podcasts are free to listen streams available on the Internet. There are a lot services which let you discover new podcasts and listen to them with ease. They are called PodCatchers.
iOS Has a default app that lets you do that. Then there’s Marco Arment’s Overcast which has awesome recommendations, again great for discovery. On Android, PocketCasts (Made by Russel Ivanovich, a podcaster himself) is the leader in Podcast apps but if you are Looking for something free DoubleTwist is worth a shot.

The interface is generally simple. Once you subscribe to a podcast, your feed populates with the latest ones from different podcasts. You can then stream them or save them for later listening.

Where do I begin?

The podcasts I listen to generally cater to my interests and while I discovered some through Twitter. Most of them were discovered through the iTunes Store, a pretty decent platform to discover lots of Podcast content.

Over time I’ve built a small repository of some of the active podcasts that interest me. I’d like to share a few of them over here:

I’ve talked about this in the post before. The podcast is basically a round table talk show between four people, who discuss and share their views on the week’s news in technology. It’s an unconventional but very effective means of keeping up with news.

What's Tech
What’s Tech:
A podcast by The Verge, What’s Tech tries to explain the technology in the most basic form possible. It’s an interesting podcast for some really good trivia too.

99% Invisible
99% Invisible:
How does design affect our lives? Bad Design can lead to frustrating experiences and accidents. While Good Design is generally rewarding and helpful. Hosted by Roman Mars, 99% Invisible is a Design Podcast that every one can listen to.

If you haven’t heard serial. Go listen to it now! It’s probably the most intriguing story I’ve heard, better than some of the TVShows and Movies even. A real life story of a murder that happened 16 years ago. The host Sarah Koenig explores the possibility that the wrong person was put behind the bars. A series of 12 episodes, The season 1 of Serial finished back in December last year and is scheduled to come back soon.

The Incomparable
The Incomparable:
A weekly dive into the pop-culture, The Incomparable, hosted by Jason Snell, is a podcast about Books, TV shows, Movies and Comics. The host and his guests, discuss and recommend great stuff everyweek.

A lot of people like to compare podcasts with Radio talk shows. Which is in some ways a pretty fair comparison. Podcasts are Radio Talk Shows in a sense. They are free, periodical and highly enganging.

But what sets them apart from the modern day radio, is the fact there’s always something worthwile to listen to and it can be listened at anytime of the day. Podcasts cater to the interests of just about everyone and not just a group of people, often called the mass-market. And the fact that even the ads on some of these Podcasts are curated is a big win. They don’t usually feel like big-distractions in a conversion (often very carefully placed). Ads are often a distraction. Curating what is being advertised, is very interesting.

A phenomenon that cought steam back in early 2000s is populating with interesting content every day, these days. It’s perhaps the most interesting time to be hooked to audio weeklies.