It’s not just me. The whole world seems to be catching on to podcasts as the latest media craze. (You remember podcasts, they’re like little weekly radio programs or audio magazines uploaded to the internet.) With the growing interest in podcasts, the number of “official” podcasts from various professional media outlets (including Fox, BBC, Toronto Life, ABC, etc.) is growing by leaps and bounds. Nevertheless, for my money (though podcasts are still free—for the time being) it’s the home-grown variety that are the most fun.
Since I got into them, I’ve tried to encourage people to check out podcasts, but I understand that not everyone has 2 ½ hours a day on the commute to kill. So you might not all find the time to listen to tons of podcasts. Nevertheless, I encourage you to give one or two a try and start out slowly. As added incentive, here’s a few more reasons why podcasts are cool:
Your news your way
A lot of podcasts are for fans of a certain area of interest and many of them will present the latest news and info on just that topic. Firefly Talk presents all the latest information about the movie, show, actors from the world of Firefly and Serenity. Both Mugglecast and Pottercast do a great job of presenting weekly headlines related to the world of Harry Potter books, movies, etc. Even on the most specific sci-fi entertainment news show you cannot get such a concentration of information about one area of interest. Similarly, the HDTV and Home Theater Podcast is a twice-weekly installment of information, advice and reviews on only one topic—high definition television.
Lines of communication
A huge part of podcasting is the listener feedback. All podcasts at least have an email address for listeners to write to, and feedback pages for posting comments on the web. Many have voicemail boxes as well for audio comments. The best part is that the hosts will interact with the listeners and often they will mention, discuss or even play back listener comments on the following podcasts. One of my favourite podcasts is called The Transmission, which is a fan podcast for the TV show Lost. Each week they present thoughts and comments about that week’s episode and they have a segment completely devoted to feedback and listener responses. When I posted a rant about one Lost episode on their web page, not only did the host respond to me by email, she also mentioned my comments on the next show. Similarly, on one of the best sci-fi podcasts, called SciFiDig, listeners are encouraged to become “diggers” by submitting news and recorded reviews in order to share with one another what cool stuff they’ve enjoyed and inspire other fans to check them out.
All that being said, I still think the most important part of a podcast (and any show really) are the hosts. In the podcasting world, anyone can put a podcast together, but I think the people who do, and commit to the effort, are the kind of people who are fun, outgoing, and have a lot to say. Those make the best hosts. Another favourite is called Previously on Alias… which deals (obviously) with the TV show Alias. It’s hosted by a pair of sisters who basically recap episodes and throughout their comments give opinions on not only what they think of the characters, but also the clothes that the characters are wearing, what is good about the episode and (more fun) what is bad about the episode, all in a sassy, snip-snap kind of way—it’s a riot! Many, like the The Week In Whedon (a podcast devoted to the latest in the world of Buffy/Angel/Firefly creator Joss Whedon’s creations), are hosted by husband and wife teams and their banter is at least half the fun. Each week they poke at each other for flubbing lines or make playful comments and listening to it all feels like hanging out with friends. I have to mention SciFiDig again because host Aaron Macom spends a lot of time on his own personal rants (and it sounds like it would be a drag but because of his humourous personality is actually hugely entertaining).
Obviously I think listening to podcasts is a great way to spend some hours each week, and I hope that I’ve given you a few more reasons to try them out. http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/ and http://podcasts.yahoo.com/start are two pages that can help you get started to read more about podcasts if I’ve piqued your interest. Enjoy!