Finding a Good Podcast
I love talk radio. When I am by myself, driving, or cooking, or doing anything that doesn’t take 100% of my concentration, I most often would rather listen to talk radio than to music. I’m a big fan of Car Talk on NPR, NPR in general, and ESPN Radio. And so, when I discovered the world of podcasts, I found a new way to listen to talk radio anytime I wanted to.
(I love music as well, especially when running or for a pick-me-up; and so, I have both on my MP3 player) (But not the player that I immersed in a bucket of acid)
You can find podcasts on just about anything you want, from comedy to coffee, money to Muggles, home cooking to home theater, or sports to spirituality. Unfortunately, not all podcasts are created equally. Not only are there no FCC regulations, but there is nothing that says they even have to know what you are talking about. There is no age requirement, and not necessarily related, there is no maturity requirement. As a matter of fact, there are no regulations what-so-ever as far as I can tell.
The first thing you will have to do is to find podcasts on subjects you are interested in. [obvious] You can Google for them – try Google with subject followed by ‘podcast’, like: “lawn care” podcast – or, you can go to a website like Podcast alley where most podcasts are listed by subject and rated.
So, how do you to spot the good ones…?
It will take some sampling, but that’s what the fast forward button is for. A general rule of thumb is that podcasts put out by companies in an effort to market their product will typically have a higher quality (as opposed to a podcast put out by a couple of friends in their basement drinking beer) You do have to be careful, though, that you are not getting biased information.
Also, podcasts with real sponsors are a good indication that there is at a minimum level of maturity and seriousness because companies aren’t going to pay you for drinking beer in your basement; unless, perhaps, it is a beer company that is what you are podcasting about. (www.CraftBeerRadio.com)
Since anyone can make a podcast, expect to find people who think they are experts in a particular subject, but are not. A lot of podcasts out there contain incorrect information. The better podcasters at least try to correct themselves in future shows. If you know anything about the subject they are talking about, it shouldn’t take you long to realize how much they may truly know about what they are talking about.
Podcasts where the hosts will read, or respond to your email questions/comments, is good indication that they are paying attention to their audience; which in turn, leads to more pertinent and interesting topics.
A good rule of thumb for a weekly produced podcast is that if it is over an hour long it is probably filled with nonsensical, off topic, conversations. The worst of them is a bunch of teenage-ish guys giggling like a bunch of teenage girls over their inside jokes that no one understands. The best podcasts are about a half hour, or force themselves to cut content to make sure it is under an hour.
There are podcasts out there that meet all of the above things I’ve mention. Now, I can discuss and debate topics all day that relate to my profession, so while I have listened to those podcasts… well, they bore me. I picked a couple of subjects that I’m very interested in as a past time namely, Home Theater and Video Games, and I’m loving ’em.
My favorite Home Theater podcast is the HTGuys; though I really haven’t tried many of the others out there.
My favorite video game podcast is Next-Gen, which focuses more on games in development rather than reviews of what is out there now. (I admit that I am guilty of enjoying following the development of a game more than playing it) Hosted by Colin Campbell, Gary Whitta and Jeremy Williams, these guys always have interesting subjects and give good, and different, points of view on them. Also, their prominence in their industry puts them in the position to get interviews with the big guys, like Valve & Bethesda. PCGamer also has a great crew and their own podcast. Producer Jeremy Williams is aces at putting both of these together. (I also tend to always agree with Jeremy). The results of both of these podcasts are interesting, mature, well spoken, entertaining and even humorous shows.
ESPN offers some podcasts for free, others you will need to be an ESPN Inside Subscriber.
Lastly, check out NPR, as they put most their shows up for download as well, in case you missed your favorite, or if it is just not on when you want to listen. Car Talk, unfortunately, is not free. (The current show is streamable for free) Of course, they are big shots these days so they need the money to hob-knob with their new Hollywood friends. 😉