The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

The podcast-listener’s dilemma

Thursday, June 17, 2010, 13:15
Section: Arts & Entertainment,Geek

I’ve been thinking about podcasts a lot recently.

For one thing, Peter and I are talking about bringing back the Hesperia Star podcast, which ended in 2005, before most people even knew what a podcast was.

For another, I looked at my “Top 100” smart playlist in iTunes, which tracks the 100 songs I’ve listened to the most in the current calendar year, and I noticed that, other than about 28 songs or so, I’ve rarely listened to the same song more than once this year. I realized that’s because I’m now up to more than six hours of podcasts a day on my iPod/iPhone, and some days, more than 10.

I think podcasts are great, and provide the sort of democratization of broadcast media that HTML pages first provided for print media years before. Just like anyone can now write a newsletter or newspaper (even if they’re called blogs) and have it posted online, there are much fewer barriers to entry to someone who’s always wanted to be a broadcaster.

Naturally, the best podcasts are by the pros — NPR and affiliate station KCRW pretty much school everyone in the podcasting world, and even podcasting maven Leo Laporte got his start in radio — but there are also plenty of good ones, especially music shows, created by fans-turned-podcasting pros.

But there are a lot of fan or amateur podcasts that I’d love to listen to, but can’t, because they’re so, so long. I keep running into this with World of Warcraft podcasts, but, looking through iTunes, the problem seems to transcend all genres.

Far be it from me to dampen the enthusiasm of amateur podcasters, but I’d listen to a lot more podcasts if I didn’t have to commit an hour (or even up to two hours) to listening to a rambling, unfocused podcast (sometimes with all of the technical snafus left in), instead of several tighter podcasts instead.

I intend to practice what I preach: If we do revive the Hesperia Star podcast, I’ll be pushing to make it either a 15 or 30-minute production, with dedicated amounts of time for various categories of discussion. All it will take is a stopwatch and a merciless hand on the editing controls in Garage Band.

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