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Podcasts: Add this to your life

February 23, 2010

Podcasts aren’t new and aren’t an evolving technology.  They are the best kind of technology: the type that makes our lives better.

For those of you who don’t know, podcasts are audio recordings that you can play like you would a song.  Except these are less melodic and more informative than songs — like a radio show.  In fact, your favorite radio show probably has a podcast, so the viewers can listen to the show on their own time.   Basically, they are audio blogs stored as MP3’s.

Podcasts were first named in 2004 and have been gaining popularity since.  As you might have guessed, they were named after the iPod, however they are compatible with any device.  It was the invention of the MP3 player that liberated the individual song from the album and enabled increased audio consumption.

Podcasts appeal to authors since they broaden the audience because viewers can listen on their own schedules rather than according to when the show is aired.  Podcasts enable friends to share with other friends, much like they would a song.  Also, anyone can make a podcast and unlike radio, airtime is unlimited and popularity depends purely on that ability to attract an audience.

For viewers, podcasts open worlds that would otherwise be untapped.  Few people have time (or patience) to listen to a weekly or daily radio show.  Podcasts put consumption in the hands of the users– and you will get hooked.  It helps to fill the mindless commute or household task, while providing you with constant streams of entertainment that hopefully won’t rot your brain.

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At first I didn’t know how to integrate podcasts into my life;  I spend remarkably little doing monotonous tasks.  However, I replaced my running playlists with podcasts and found that I could run farther and longer.  There is nothing better than losing yourself in a run, and the stories featured in podcasts can be captivating, compelling and entertaining enough to facilitate slipping into a trance.  Unlike playlists, podcasts are always changing, so there is always something new to tune in to.  So for those concerned with fitness, I dare you to switch out your tired music with a new podcast.

To start, I would recommend NPR podcasts.  NPR, clearly, is a reputable name and you will not go wrong with its content.  Weekly I listen to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life and the Moth.  I have a couple others, but these are my core, and they never fail to disappoint.

Like most of the content on my blog, the podcast technology allows the user to engage in more than one way.  Since podcasts are just segments of radio shows, you can actually go see the recording of these shows.  Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me is a news-game show filmed in Chicago.  I have tried on two different occasions to see the filming of this show, but to no avail (extenuating circumstances both times).  Tonight I tried to go to the Moth performance in Chicago (a story telling series in Chicago, New York and LA).   Unfortunately, it was sold out!!  So, my advice to those of you who try to go see the show live, arrive at least 1.5 hours early

Podcasts are an established technology that will make your life better.  iTunes has a wonderful podcast library and there are many different downloading applications so you can listen to podcasts to your smartphone to listen on the go.  Try it for a week and tell me what you think!

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