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Join the Podcast Generation!

Dear Reader,

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and mentioned that I have a podcast (yes, I routinely try and convert my friends to podcast listeners.) His response to me was “Yes, I have an iPod but I’m just not a member of the podcast generation”. His problem is that he is suffering from information overload. Others that I have talked to complain that they just don’t know where to start. No matter what your excuse, if you are not listening to podcasts on a regular basis then you are missing out on a lot (I mean a LOT) of good information, tips and entertainment that is there for the taking.

So, I’m going to make it my mission to try and convert people to be podcast listeners. I hope, along the way, I’ll pick up a few listeners to my podcasts but honestly, a rising tide floats all boats. So, if you don’t currently listen to podcasts on a regular basis, keep reading. If you are already a member of the podcast generation(you subscribe to at least one podcast), I want you to send the URL to this article to at least 5 friends that don’t. If you’ve got a twitter account, tweet it. Let’s see if we can’t increase the number of podcast listeners significantly in the next month.

Editors Note: If you are in a hurry, just skim the bullet points and visit the URLs.

Cal’s 4 Step Program to joining the Podcast Generation:

1: Figure out how you are going to listen.
If you don’t have an mp3 player, you are not out in the cold, it means you will most likely have to listen to them on your computer. I have 2 iPods myself and a total of 8 in the family and I still listen to about 25% of my podcasts on my computer. So don’t fret if you don’t have an mp3 player.

Most podcast sites these days have an embedded flash player. If you are going to be listening via your computer, take advantage of these. The only downside here is that you have to go check each podcasts site on a regular basis. The embedded players are great for testing out a podcast to see if you want to subscribe though.

If you don’t want to have to check each site regularly, You will however, want a “Podcatcher”. A podcatcher is a program similar to an RSS feed reader that gathers all the feeds from all the podcasts you want to subscribe to and puts them in one place. Your podcatcher checks each feed on a regular basis to make sure that when you are ready to listen, you have the content downloaded and ready to go.

By far, the most popular podcatcher on earth is iTunes. iTunes is free from apple and comes with every iPod. It works on Windows and on OSX. You don’t have to have an iPod to use iTunes but if you have one it makes life so easy.

There are a lot of other podcatchers and originally I was going to list all I could find. However, in researching the list I found that someone else has already done the research. If you don’t want to use iTunes, visit PodCatcherMatrix.org and find the podcatcher that is right for you.

I know that Microsoft packages software with the Zune but I do not yet have one so I can’t comment on it. If you have a Zune and the software, please leave a comment telling us what you like/don’t like about it.

2: Figure out what you are going to listen to.
This may sound simplistic but you really don’t want to listen to everything out there. (Actually, you probably couldn’t but that’s beside the point) To get started, pick one topic that you like and find a single podcast you like on that topic. This could be more difficult than you think. First, there are several good podcast directories out there. If you use iTunes, by far the most popular is the iTunes store. It is, however, not the only source.

Find one show that you like and subscribe. Then as you have time, find a second, a third, etc. Since most shows release every week or every other week, if you are using podcasts to fill time on your commute, you will eventually find how many you need to fill the void. Resist the urge to type in a keyword into iTunes and then subscribe to every one of them. Podcasts vary in quality of content an production values. Not all the high quality content podcasts have high production values and that’s ok. However, you will want to be selective in who you subscribe to. Also, don’t be afraid to drop a podcast that is not filling a need.Speaking as a podcaster I want “listeners” not “subscribers”.

3: For the first month, commit time each week to look for new podcasts
If you do this for a month, it will become as natural as checking your email. Just check the directories for new podcasts that match your keywords. If there is a new one and the description looks interesting, either subscribe to it in your podcatcher or give it a listen on-line if you’ve got the time.

4: Participate
This is where most of the podcast generation fail. Podcasters want feedback, we want lots of it. So if you like a podcast, take the time to tell the podcaster you do.

  • If they have a blog, comment.
  • If they are listed in iTunes, rate them.
  • If they are on one of the directories, rate them.
  • If they have a forum, post.

Participation is one of the things that sets podcasting apart from traditional “broadcast” media and it’s an important part of being part of the podcast generation. While most podcasts resemble radio shows in that the host talks to you, almost all podcasts have some way for you to communicate back to the host and we really want to hear from you. Regardless of the topic, most podcsts are one side of a conversation, you are the other half. Make sure you hold up your end of the conversation.

Many podcasts these days have “listener call-in lines” They actively encourage you to call in and pe a part of the conversation. You don’t have to have any special equipment or even a “radio voice” to have your voice heard. If your favorite podcast has a listener call-in line, put it on your speed dial and when listening, pause the podcast and call in. Let the host know if you agree, disagree, or just have more information.

Podcasts I listen To

That’s my four points. Now, I’m going to share with you the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis. Not because I have some deep insight as to what you should be listening to but mainly as a small way of saying thank you to the people that produce these shows. Consider my listing them here as an endorsement, if they fall in your area of interest, I would highly recommend them to you. (These are in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference.)

So, there you have it, a primer on joining the podcast nation. As I told my friend, our dues are cheap and our benefits are plentiful. No more excuses, get out there and participate!

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

8 thoughts on “Join the Podcast Generation!

  1. I like the idea of a “podcast generation” and I do listen to several podcasts on a regular basis, but mostly while driving. The reason I do this, is that when I’m behind a computer, I have all sorts of things going (IM, Skype, phone, mail and most importantly my work/coding), which makes it hard for me to listen carefully to what’s on the podcast. And I pick those podcasts to learn something, or remember stuff that I forgot, or just because I love the topic. So, the only true moment I can listen to it, is while driving.

    Unfortunately I live in a small country called Belgium (comparable to the state Maryland) and the distances I travel are too small to completely listen to long podcasts, so I tend to stick to the smaller episodes of php-abstract, geekbrief and 60secondtech.

    So, I rather have more small episodes (30minutes to an hour) then very long episodes, covering a specific topic at a time. But even with this limitation, I still consider myself to be a part of the “podcast generation”, because without it I would loose touch with the community from which I can learn so much.

    Just my vision on this topic.

    Michelangelo

  2. I agree with Michelangelo; when I’m working at the PC I simply don’t have enough attention to listen to a podcast. Bit I drive around 4000km a month (yes I’m crazy) so I have a lot of listening time in the car.

    There was a period I was listening to podcasts a lot, but now, it’s just a few (one music show and php|abstract basically). The reason is: I don’t know which ones I find interesting. Many are boring, and after subscribing to some and unsubscribing again after 2 episodes, I kind of stopped searching for them.

    I do like smaller podcasts. 5 to 10 minutes is a nice length that I can keep focussed on; anything longer and my mind tends to wander.

    And sometimes I’m just not aware of a podcast; when I saw 60sec-tech in your list I thought ‘huh, they have audio too?’ (I read it in a feed reader).

    The iPod has an annoying thing regarding podcasts; for some reason, after a podcast, it alsways stops and goes to the main menu. This makes it annoying to navigate to the correct menu again to start the next podcast. Especially when trying to pay attention to the road too.

  3. Cal:

    Great post, I promote podcasts every chance I get and in presentations all over the world! I have down loaded your cast and the others I hadn’t heard before.

    I share your frustration… ‘Why doesn’t everyone LOVE this medium?’

    I have two theories.

    1. People learn different ways. About 20-30% of people are auditory learners, they learn well from auditory sources, they learn better with background music on etc. I believe that auditory learners are likely a big part of the podcast fishbowl.

    2. Once a podcast clicks with you, you’re converted. For me the ‘tipping point’ came from listening to Jaffe Juice (Across the Sound) and Mitch Joel’s brilliant Six Pixels of Separation. When I found entertaining podcasts that were in my area of interest I became a massive podcast convert and all I wanted to do was find more great podcasts.

    I listen when I drive, I listen when I work out, I listen when I walk my dog.

    I have a podcast called The Ten Golden Rules of Internet Marketing http://podcast.tengoldenrules.com , we’ve had some great guests including Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig’s List, Tim Westergren the founder of Pandora.com and Google’s Matt Cutts and Avinash Kaushik. Please send me your feedback if you get a chance to listen.

  4. @Michelangelo,

    Thanks for the comment. Like you, I listen to podcasts when I’m driving or (as is the case these days with Zend) flying. I do however, listen to some podcasts as background noise. I’m listening to one right now, trying it out to see if I want to add it to my iTunes.

    @Ivo,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I understand about not knowing which ones are interesting. I listen to a lot of podcasts when I working out and have dropped several just because they aren’t interesting. One that I dropped last week was by an expert in his field but his podcast was rambling and honestly, boring. So while I still respect his opinion, I won’t listen to his podcast. I’ll wait for someone to summarize it. :)

    @John,
    Thanks so much for the comment and the podcast. I’ve been a fan of Marketing Over Coffee for a couple of months now. It’s always nice when I get up and see a new episode on my iPod.

    @Jay,
    Oh man, we think so much alike. However, to those who don’t learn from audio, podcasting can still bring a lot to their lives. A lot of podcasts don’t teach but entertain and recap. For example, EscapePod is the second podcast I subscribed to and I’ve been listening since July 2005? (And Feng Burger is still one of my favorites!)

    I want to start teaching people that podcasts are out there. Forget teaching them to podcast, most people won’t and the ones that will won’t need to be taught, they will catch the fever when they understand what’s out there. I know every podcaster does their part to bring more people into the podcast generation and I’m not trying to take anything away from their efforts., I’m just trying to do my part as a podcaster. :)

    Subscribing to your podcast, not because you poster or because I hope you subscribe to one of mine but because it looks interesting, and that’s really the only reason anyone should subscribe to a podcast. (Except for my mom, she should subscribe to all of mine, even if she doesn’t understand any of it!)

    As with an unconference though, the law of two feet applies to podcasting, if yours is not for me, that’s not saying it’s bad, it’s just saying that it’s not for me.

    Again, thank you all for commenting! Make sure that each of you tell someone about a podcast today. (Bonus points if it’s one of mine!) :)

    =C=

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