Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
8 August 2005

As a quick glance at the links on the right hand side of this weblog clearly shows I like listening to speech online (or rather I like using Total Recorder to transform realaudio streams into MP3s which I then listen to on my MP3 player). So the increasing prominence of podcasting should be a godsend for me you’d think. Indeed, a few interesting programs I already know like Go Digital have embraced podcasting. But I’m still finding it hard to find anything much out there I want to listen to – I haven’t found a good trusted source to guide me through the profusion of sources out there.

There are 437 “audio blogs” registered with the iTunes podcast directory (which you need iTunes to visit), and hundreds of “technology-related” podcasts, plus 191 “politics” podcasts and 134 movie and television podcasts but seemingly no way of sorting the wheat from the chaff. Apple provides a Top 100 podcast list but without reviews, and there is seemingly no way to get to their list of “top n” by category (plus there is some suggestion the ‘top lists’ can be manipulated). Random sampling of ‘top’ podcasts recommended by sites like Podcast Alley was at first disappointing.

Fortunately, I have started to find the odd interesting podcast at last. Resonance FM an experimental station in London featured quite a funny mock-lecture by Kevin Eldon, This is England by a pair of Brits features interviews with random people doing interesting jobs in the English countryside, “Escape Pod” – a podcast of SF authors reading their short stories (excellent idea – I want to find more free short story feeds – preferably of classic and/or out of print authors) and best of all Ewan Spence and a gang of colleagues are doing a daily podcast from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which will be very useful for keeping up with what’s hot and not over the coming weeks.

I would be interested in anyone else’s recommendations either for individual podcasters or for sites that help you find the best ones. It will be interesting to see whether podcasting gets to be as big a phenomenon as blogging. Speaking seems to be a more ‘natural’ way of communicating with people than typing does but it turns out that making something that people will actually want to listen to is even more difficult than writing something because editing audio is a lot harder to do…


  1. Podcasts I listen to a lot: MacCast, APM’s Future Tense (nice and short), this WEEK in TECH (twit), and Slacker Astronomy.

    Comment by Reid — 8 August 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  2. This is one of the biggest problems for all of us interested in finding new podcasts. The lists hosted by the likes of iTunes and podcastalley are useful but limited. I don’t care to listen to more than one or two tech or big-media casts. The problem is not so much one of quality but taste. We need better categorisation but any list that depends on numbers alone is flawed (what do I care that millions of people get suckered by a stupid frog!?). If you are big to begin with, you’re likely to hit the top layer and stay there. For now, word of mouth is our best hope – so your question is spot-on. It’s exactly what we should be asking each other. We should also try to help those people who cast something we like by actively spreading the word.

    To that end:

    I love Escape Pod too. The Seanachai is brilliant (a storyteller telling his own stories).
    In the same vein there are a number of good audiobooks out there and the embryonic podiobooks.com hopes to become a future portal for authors podcasting their novels (disclaimer – I am the author of Tom Corven).
    I enjoy the Tartanpodcast (a music show) and have just found a little known storyteller who tells her own cute tales at ‘Story’ Cast (by Elizabeth Rose).

    It’s pretty crass but unfortunately until this is sorted out, we should also try to vote for the casts we like, in order to push them up the list. This way we become active participants in the game, changing the nature of culture instead of just accepting what is pushed at us.


    Comment by Paul Story — 8 August 2005 @ 6:38 pm

  3. While you do make the point of audio being more difficult to edit, I have a whole different issue with them. I simply don’t have the attention span of plus +5 minutes to listen (not interactively listen at that), unless we’re talking about Led Zeppelin. Further, very often the point a podcast can be lost somewhere, the idea gets diluted unless the person who is talking is extremely articulate, or it is a dialogue that one is listening to.

    One the other hand, I see podcasts as one more way of increasing accessibility on the internet.

    There are some interesting pod-casts on GlobalVoices (http://globalvoicesonline.org). (No, this is not link propagation, even if I write there!)

    Comment by neha — 10 August 2005 @ 3:04 pm

  4. Thanks for the link, Neha. I see your point about having to have the attention span for audio but I don’t see it as being too much of a problem because I tend to use audio alongside other activities (cycling, cleaning house) so the time they ‘use’ could not be used for anything else anyway.

    Comment by David Brake — 10 August 2005 @ 3:51 pm

  5. Hey David, couldn’t help noticing your affection for (1) Resonance FM, (2) cycling and (3) podcasts.

    Maybe you’d be interested in the show i present on Resonance: The Bike Show. We podcast too, the feed is here:


    The blog is:


    Happy listening!


    Comment by Jack — 22 September 2005 @ 6:03 pm

  6. “But I’m still finding it hard to find anything much out there I want to listen to – I haven’t found a good trusted source to guide me through the profusion of sources out there.”
    WOW! I’m glad I’ve bumped into your blog/topic straight away!! I’ve only started looking for good quality book reviews, and I’ve realised it’s a jungle out there… plus I need to keep listening to spoken english to keep me up to date.
    Your suggestions are a good starting point, but if you have any specific drifts, please share!!

    Comment by Alessandra — 31 October 2005 @ 10:12 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment