Podcasters need more pies in the face
BY SOME estimates, there are more than 20,000 podcasters uploading shows to the Internet on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. And the numbers seem to be growing exponentially.
So chances are good there's at least a dozen or so that will pique your interest, especially since it's only a matter of time before there's three or four devoted to talking about you, specifically, behind your back.
Still, left to our own Digital Slob devices, finding cool podcasts can seem harder than tuning into a UHF channel deep in the Smoky Mountains without the aid of cable or a satellite dish, or tin foil, or rabbit ears, or electricity, or a diverse gene pool. In both cases, your looking at tough climbs for people who've clearly got bigger issues on their plate.
With this in mind, here's some key info to help you scale this Digital Age mountainside and reach the high ground to snare the podcast signal that's right for you:
iTunes: For now, this media player application is the fastest route to the podcasting world, since its roads are so familiar to the millions who already use it to download music. But unlike the 99-cent song fee, its podcast lane is toll-free, and offers one of the best click-to-benefit ratios.
Simply click the podcast link at the Music Store, then click any podcast you see (or use the search function to browse by keyword), and if you want, click "subscribe."
Software then does the rest, downloading the latest episodes automatically into your playlist, while also showing the "back catalog," if you want older episodes.
As an "aggregator," iTunes has many competitors, from Odeo to iPodder. While it doesn't offer every podcast, like the corner store, it's fast, convenient and open all night.
No iPod, no problem: The biggest misconception about podcasts is that you need an MP3 player to join the party. But assuming you bought a computer in the 21st century, you're already podcast-ready.
In fact, most Digital Slobs rarely use any portable entertainment device, because we typically go mobile only in times of extreme duress.
Thus, we listen to podcasts in comfy chairs, while surfing the Web and speed-dialing Domino's Pizza. Hopefully we also left the door unlocked and have $20 within arm's reach.
Podcasts about podcasts: When Milton Berle ushered in the Golden Age of Television, he inspired the nation to buy TVs by putting on a dress and making his face an easy target for cream pies. What he didn't do was waste everyone's Tuesday night explaining the science behind the cathode ray tube.
And while there's room for all levels of geekdom at the podcasting buffet table, too many shows sound like someone reading their MIT doctoral dissertation over a muted techno beat.
Fortunately, there are now podcasts that review other podcasts. And even though some of these shows come with a fair dose of inside baseball as well, programs like Podcast411.com, digitally distorted.com, podcastercon fessions.com and thepodcast reviewer.com all offer would-be listeners reviews or interviews that amount to a speed- dating service for our ears.
With video podcasts also fast-gaining prominence, get ready for a media renaissance not seen since the 1950s.
Hopefully there'll be enough cream pies to throw around.