A painting of me

Instacast and Podcasts

   20 April 2011, early morning

Podcasts have been around for a million years, but I never really got into them. iTunes has support for downloading and subscribing to podcasts, but like many parts of iTunes I found the support awkward. You can sync podcasts to your iPod (or iPhone in my case) and there they sit till you sync again. Because I have MobileMe syncing my contacts and calendar items I rarely actually plug my phone into my computer. I would never have up to date podcasts on my phone. A long time ago I stopped bothering with them. Ideally podcasts should arrive on your phone while you are on the go and remove themselves from your iPod after you’ve listened to them. It’s 2011 after all.

I read about the solution to my problems with podcasts in a pretty extensive review of a new iPhone application called Instacast. I think the sign of a well done application is that it solves a need you didn’t even think you had. Because I found my workflow around podcasts so messy I really wasn’t interested in listening to them at all. I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Now I listen to podcasts a fair bit.

I’ve been listening to two podcasts on my way to and from work: WNYC’s Radiolab and NPR’s Planet Money. They are both superlative. Radiolab in particular is so well produced and I can’t say anything bad about it whatsoever. This episode about cities is a good introduction to the podcast and what it’s like. 5by5 is producing a ton of podcasts that look like they would be right up my alley, but they are all so rambling I can’t get into them. I feel like there might be good stuff there, if only they were better edited. Are there other podcasts I should be listening to?



  1. R3-30!

  2. This American Life, without a doubt, as well as The Moth podcast. Freakonomics Radio is also pretty solid, but as with the books, some may find it polarizing.

  3. A couple of CBC ones. Wiretap and Age of Persuasion.

  4. Seconding the R3-30, as well as a couple of other CBCs: Grant Lawrence’s and Quirks and Quarks.

    Critical Hit is a great D&D campaign.

    Judge John Hodgman Podcast has Hodgman settle disputes over Skype, such as are machine guns robots?

    You Look Nice Today updates sporadically, but if you don’t like 5×5 you might not like it.

  5. Instacast looks great. I gotta try that stuff. I tweeted some favorites a while back: Battleship Pretension (film), 99% Invisible (design in life), Marketplace of Ideas (culture-y interviews), Philosophy Bytes (philosophy interviews), and The Sound of Young America (interviews + variety show). I’d probably rank them in this order, more or less.

  6. I actually enjoyed the start of the last episode of 5by5’s Back to Work. They were talking about Star Wars and some other random junk. So I might give that one a go.

    Thanks for al the suggestions.

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