I never thought podcasting was a big deal until I gave up on radio and started listening to them almost all of the time I spend in a car alone. I got tired of hearing local talk radio sensationalism and then there's those crazy-bad commercials... I needed a break, and there is so much great content out there for free. I decided I'd rather be productively learning something rather than getting all road-ragey because of the local political scene blasting through my speakers every day.
Something I love about podcasts too are that they come to me. I don't have to remember to find and download them. Once I subscribe, they just show up and are always in my pocket.
I use an app on my iPhone called Downcast (iOS App Store link) and it's great. It costs a few bucks but I find it much better than the Apple Podcasts app.
Why use a dedicated app? Well, for one it lets you time-shift like a Tivo. You can skip ahead 15 or 30 seconds at a time if there happens to be an ad you'd rather not hear, and you can skip back if you want to hear the previous 15 or 30 seconds with just a swipe of the screen.
The best part of using an app though is that it lets me listen at 1.5 speed. There are other settings (both faster and slower) but I find it works well at 1.5 the best. Typically the pacing of conversation is such that it just works better at a higher speed, not to mention I can listen to more during a commute.
So why am I talking about boring old podcasting at all? Two reasons:
First, Apple just announced that there are 1 Billion subscriptions to podcasts through iTunes. That's Billion with a B. If you're not listening to podcasts, you might want to try them out. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Lastly, I can't let you just run wild in the podcast directory of iTunes without some recommendations. Here are some of my favorite podcasts that range from technology to productivity to entrepreneurship to comedy:
- By The Way with Jeff Garlin
- Entrepreneur Architect with my friend Mark R. LePage
- Business of Architecture Podcast (which I've been a recent guest on) with my friend Enoch Sears
- Back To Work with Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann
- Mac Power Users with David Sparks and Katie Floyd
- The New Disruptors with Glenn Fleishmann
- Let's Make Mistakes with Mike Monteiro and Jessie Char
- Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin
- 99% Invisible with Roman Mars
- Radiolab with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich
- You Look Nice Today with Merlin Mann, Adam Lisagor and Scott Simpson
These are just some of the podcasts I listen to. No, I don't have time to listen to them all and that's not the point. I like to have a nice selection depending on how I feel. This is a great place to start. There are only 250,000 podcasts to choose from. You better get started.