Podcasts 1/20

It’s been a while since I wrote about what podcasts I’m listening to on this blog. If you go by my habits, then the amount of time I spend listening to podcasts (and sometimes audiobooks) even when I’ve been without a significant commute for some time now proves I hold them in high esteem. So, worthwhile to go over my current approach and subscriptions.

If you’ve been following my Twitter account, you’ll know I had a bit of a renovation of my podgathering:

: My version of decluttering is deleting swathes of podcasts that I know in my heart I will never bother to listen to.

: Further to this, I’m having to redownload a swathe of podcasts because iTunes is the worst piece of software I semi-voluntarily use.

: Due to @iTunes updating without my consent, and randomly changing a setting by itself, I have now lost swathes of unplayed podcasts because it decided to DELETE THEM.

Some are recoverable, some are not, I don’t understand how you can code software so poorly.

I’m taking this opportunity to declare Podcast Bankruptcy. The fact I had over 100GB of podcasts to lose in the first place is in itself ridiculous.

I’m going to handwrite a list of pods I can’t bear to unsubscribe from, and the rest will have to go.

I must have started listening to podcasts ten years ago. Back then, iTunes was the only sensible game in town, you were happily syncing them across if you owned Apple products but mostly you were dragging stuff onto USB mass storage of some kind. There were RSS feeds, and the iTunes Store, but no real sense of an archive from which you had constant access to stuff. It was still fairly novel, and although public broadcasters like the BBC and NPR were comprehensive on the uptake, it was still a bit Wild Westy.

That system led me to sticking with iTunes, the worst software to have ever been coded, to this day. That pains me to say, because I know a good day’s research would allow me to cut it out of my life completely – but who has a day?

But nowadays the situation is vastly different. There are large corporate entities in the podcasting game. People who’ve been doing this for ten years now have a massive exploitable archive of stuff, which can be and is financially exploited. Bigger names and higher production values have flooded the market, and we are now in the situation (as with every other form of media) that there are too many great podcasts to keep up with.

It also used to be the case that podcasting was, by and large, simply free at the point of use. Now, it’s becoming common for podcasts to exist on a paid subscription, rather than subsist on adverts, sponsors, and goodwill. Patreon is a form of this – it’s totally the creator’s choice whether they want to release Patreon-supported podcasts for free to the public or not.

The technology has changed too. Not only are there countless specialist apps, but entities like Spotify are throwing them on there amongst everything else. It’s often easier and more convenient to stream, or download through the app,. than to wrangle mp3s and m4as on a hard drive.

So that makes you question the way you do things. I used to think of podcasting like radio, but on tape, so you could store it and relisten to favourites on a long journey or something. Now, it’s become just as ephemeral as radio: more on-demand, but more likely to vanish from your life entirely.

I also know myself better, and I can set myself better boundaries. I now tell myself there’s often no need to download an entire history of a podcast, for example. You’re probably never going to listen to it at such a rate that you’re going to catch up to it as it’s going out. Hell, there are some podcasts you’ll never catch up with. I cut my losses on WTF with Marc Maron. Nothing to do with the quality of the show, but I must have had five years of it backed up, and I couldn’t keep up with the release rate of two ninety-minute podcasts a week. So it had to go. there are many stories like this.

So, my current listening is this: I support Book Shambles on Patreon, and those are downloaded, but I’m a couple of years behind on it now and I really need to pull my finger out. I subscrine to a few things on BBC Sounds, but the only guarantees at the moment are Wittertainment and Brexitcast, and I’m a little politically exhausted with the latter. (Also, I mainly watch the TV version.) Desert Island Discs is great, but I’m not pressuring myself to keep up with that, or whatever current affairs comedy panel show has its turn at the moment. I would like to catch up on The Infinite Monkey Cage, but will I?

As for stuff still on iTunes, it’s the collective outputs of the Zaltzmans, Conan’s interview podcast, David Tennant’s interview podcast, 2MTL and Radio Free Skaro (but mainly when Doctor Who is on), Hardcore History and You Must Remember This (if I ever find the time again for those), Shut Up and Sit Down, Soundtracking, and a couple of discontinued podcasts where I still have episodes to get through.

I still don’t have the list down to what I can actually listen to in a week, but it’s a much better situation than I was in. Plus, I’m getting better at listening to individual episodes of podcasts, and not feeling the need to complete the set, or coming to terms with the fact I may never get back to listening to 99% Invisible, and that’s fine.

If I move into a high-input time with podcasts, the list may ramp up again, but I’m fairly happy with it now. I’m sure you have great recommendations to add to my list, and I’m sure I’m not gonna do that. Nothing personal, but I’ve been there, and now I’m back.