Pondering the position of podcasts (as a listener)

Published June 14, 2012

Something odd is happening to my taste in audio entertainment. Since the dawn of podcasting, I have stockpiled episodes - subscribing to everything I might take an interest in, listening to make sure it’s my kind of thing, and then not worrying if I don’t get round to listening again for months. For me, the content had to be good, it didn’t necessarily have to be timely. My life has gone through cycles of having lots of time to listen, to very little time, and where sometimes the list of unlistened to shows would stack up, occasionally I’d catch up and be searching for potential new subscriptions.

Over the years, I’ve subscribed to all sorts of things. Science shows, fiction, writing podcasts, tech news, F1 and other sports, Doctor Who, Radio 4 stuff, you name it, I’ve tried it. My collection has changed over time but there has always been a substantial backlog to listen to. Just a few months ago, Mr C had to stand over me, demanding I delete some that I was clearly never going to listen to, freeing up some precious hard drive space. It was physically painful to do it, but I pressed the delete button and whittled down my unlistened to items even more.

Suddenly, a few months on, I am struggling to keep an interest in my podcast collection. I can’t decide if it’s because I now know I can just delete them willy-nilly and the world doesn’t end, or if I’m so busy now that I can’t absorb the same amount of information that I used to. I know for sure that I’m particularly enjoying listening to podcasts of radio shows (Absolute, Radio 2, etc) and podcasts of a dramatic, storytelling nature (The Archers, This American Life, etc). These are the pure entertainment options out of my podcast backlog, with the number of education/information shows being cut down to a minimum.

I’m sure this is just another cycle on the podcast wave, and things will change again in another couple of months. There was a time where I downloaded all the video versions of shows, preferring to see the hosts in action. Now I have reverted to audio only once more.

I know a lot of it is to do with the amount of time available for consuming podcasts, but I’ve got a steady hour in the car each day, and it feels like I’m choosing to listen to music, or less challenging things as a wind down. I’ve even started browsing the audiobook section of iTunes instead of the podcasts. I suppose it is not just time but brain capacity, and I may have more of that in the future as I continue to settle in at my new job.

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