Tuesday, May 02, 2017


While the podcast revolution took over the internet, I never really joined in for a few reasons. One is that I'm not a person who listens well, and generally I prefer reading to listening whenever possible. If I had the ability to read my television shows, I would probably do that - when I'm alone I often turn on the closed captioning.

Another was that I didn't have the time. I was blessed with an incredibly short commute while I working at the newspaper and spent a lot of evenings at meetings - where listening was my job. I learned to listen because I had to, and taking notes helped a lot with me gaining that skill.

Over the past year I've been unemployed and looking for work while fighting depression and anxiety, but as I'm beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, I've found that I have a couple of hours each day that I wanted to fill with something. I was doing computer stuff, usually playing a video game, but I wasn't so engaged in the game that I felt... satisfied. I started by watching some shows on Amazon Prime, mostly documentaries, because I like history, but it's hard to play a game and watch a show at the same time.

So I came to podcasts. One day I just thought, Hey, why don't I listen to a podcast instead of trying to watch something? and pulled up the Podcast app on my old iPad Mini.

I did a lot of hunting through the "featured" tab, and listened to a handful of things that were, frankly, awful. I hunted down one I listened to for the Hugos, "Tea and Jeopardy", but there hadn't been any new shows for awhile. I subscribed anyway, since it was so good.

I've now got 17 podcasts on my list, with varying update times and lengths and such, and I'm beginning to figure out what I like and don't like in a podcast.

So I thought I'd share it with my readers, who likely have their own opinions.

1) I seem to be in the minority in this, but I prefer shorter podcasts. For me, 20-40 minutes is ideal. The two hour ones don't tempt me at all, and the ones that regularly top an hour make me cringe. Yes, I have some that run that long on my list, but I prefer shorter podcasts.

2) I don't like excessive sound effects. A little music to open, a little music to set off ads, a little music to close... there was one I tried where the guy seemed to think he was a foley artist - but he wasn't good at it. I'm listening for the story that a human voice is telling. It doesn't have to be fancy or overproduced for me to like it. One of my favorites is just one guy talking, telling stories from history for a half hour.

3) High quality microphones go a LONG way. If I can clearly hear the person talking, I'm happy. I tried a couple of podcasts that didn't have the basic equipment. Promising ideas, but if I can't even hear your voice? Sorry, no.

4) Subject matter is important. I like history, Doctor Who, Aquaman and Fortean topics. No surprise, the majority of my podcasts are on those topics. That said, there are tons of podcasts on every subject out there, so finding ones I like is a difficult task.

I have, in the past, considered trying to podcast. However, at the time I was considering it, I hadn't even really listened to any, so I wouldn't have known what to do. And, now that I've been on a podcast, and have listened to people who do it regularly, I'm not inclined to try to produce my own (I would, of course, be glad to go back on Fire & Water if Rob and Shag want me to).

I guess I probably have to list some of my podcasts for you... I listen to the BBC Global News Podcast and NPR's Up First for my world news. Of course I listen to Fire & Water now, although at the time I recorded my episode I hadn't listened to any (*guilt*). I've already mentioned Tea & Jeopardy, and I also really enjoy History Goes Bump and Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories. On the Fortean side I just discovered Forteana Podcast, and also enjoy Mysterious Universe. For Doctor Who, I listen to my hubby's favorite Verity! and have just started to listen to Reality Bomb (by my old friend Graeme Burk) and, of course, Radio Free Skaro.

Yeah, that's not 17. I'm not telling the rest. And yes, some of the above break my rules of what I like. I know. Believe me.

So, if you've read this far, what's your favorite podcast?