You may remember my writing a tutorial on how to put podcasts on your non-iPod portable music player. If you glossed over the tutorial completely because you had either never heard of a podcast or couldn't imagine wanting to listen to one, you're probably not alone - it sounds more like an affliction than a form of entertainment. Admittedly some of the content of podcasts make an open sore more tolerable than listening to the ramblings of someone who is excited by the sight of tumbleweeds passing in front of their car on Interstate 40 (and if you've spent a few hours on I-40 you know tumbleweeds are the excitement). Network television suffers from this same pain-inducing sense of publication with bigger budgets, which is a different problem altogether.
Before you're eyes glaze over at yet another Internet buzzword, keep in mind that podcasts are simply audio recordings available for download at a variety of sites across the Internet. The magic part of the equation being applications like DopplerRadio and iPodder designed to let you subscribe to these audio downloads in a manner that puts them conveniently in your PC audio library for listening on your desktop or easy transfer to your favorite portable audio player. Of course, that's the Cliff's Notes version of what podcasting is; for the complete unabridged version, check out Podcasting: Evolution or Revolution?
The secret here, which isn't really secret, is that you don't have to subscribe to anything to listen to podcasts. When I first heard about podcasting, I subscribed to a bunch of different shows until I had more audio than I knew what to do with piled up in a folder that I never had time to listen to. So like any other form of information overload, I unsubscribed from a bunch of stuff and deleted the audio files I wasn't listening to. Easy enough.
The hard part in all of this is finding stuff you actually want to listen to. In the plethora of podcasts, who has time to find the good stuff? All those subscriptions I made weren't a complete waste of time, I did find a few gems that I still listen to with regularity. My personal favorite podcast is Evil Genius Chronicles, which combines eclectic music selections with a sort of This American Life slanted toward technology. If you like movies, Reel Reviews is worth checking out for movie commentary that come across as being genuine passion for cinematic art without the pretentiousness of cinema snobs. If gadgets are your passion, you probably already know about Engadget, but if you haven't heard their weekly podcast, you're only getting a small piece of the site's offerings. Radio drama of the pre-television sort can be found in The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd. Of course, you can also get our weekly radio show and pre-recorded interviews as podcasts too. This is literally the tip of the iceberg. If you find something you want to subscribe to, download a free app like DopperRadio and check out the podcasting tutorial I mentioned at the beginning of this article.