You do listen to podcasts don’t you? Well, you at least know what they are, right? Briefly they are audio files on the web that you can have a podcatcher download automatically. Back in the old days (circa 2 years ago) you would have to go to the site and manually download the file. What makes it a podcast is that it can be automatically downloaded by a podcatcher using an RSS or Atom feed. Podcasts derive their name, as I understand it, from “Personal On Demand (broad)Cast.” I don’t think that is used much any more. And, you don’t need an iPod to download and listen to them.
Well, of course, most of you know that.
One of the things that I have come to dislike about podcasts is what my friend Matt at the Dump Runners Club calls “Podcast Creep.” No, not the person behind the mic, but the fact that the show starts out at a reasonable 20 minutes and quickly balloons to be an hour or more long.
Let me give some examples.
Fitness Rocks with Dr. Monte. The good Doc started at 25 (or so) minutes per show. Then he has had a couple of shows at 43+ minutes. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the information in the shows, I do subscribe to close to 40 podcasts. If all of them doubled in length (which many of them have) then that makes it difficult to listen to the shows that are downloaded.
Lullabot podcast is another show that has gotten horribly long. If I remember right they started out at about 30 minutes per show. This is a show about the Drupal Content Management System (CMS). I don’t use Drupal, but I thought it would be good to listen to some of the ideas that maybe I could adapt to one of my sites that uses phpWebSite. When the hosts of the show started trying to find material to make the show stretch to an hour, they turned me off. They are not overly organized to begin with. Then there are long pauses waiting for someone to say something interesting just to fill time. They could at least try editing that out. I have not listened to their podcast of late. I have noticed that their show times have gotten back to 40 minutes or so. They could probably get by with 20 minutes if they were a bit organized. But, I am not the one to be telling people how to organize.
Everyone loves TWiT. While they have interesting hosts, sometimes they just drone on and on. If I remember right they started at 30 minute shows too and now are regularly over an hour. Occasionally way over an hour. Leo has done a good job in keeping the other shows on the TWiT network reigned in so they don’t get out of hand, but the original TWiT show can drone at times.
The Genealogy Guys. Sorry, I have just lost interest. It is hard to stay focused on research material and links for any length of time, especially when I don’t listen while sitting at the computer. That kinda defeats the purpose for having a portable audio player. I have not listened to an episode in quite some time, though I am still subscribed. It is great material that George and Drew put together, but there is only so much a brain can process. One hour is much too long. Though, it is great information if you are doing genealogical work.
And please, podcasters, put the episode number in your podcast title. When I am looking at the, sometimes hundreds, of podcasts in my iPod, it would be nice to know that I am listening to the podcasts in order. I don’t know how other podcatchers and players work, but with iTunes and the iPod, it plays in the order downloaded. And it always downloads the most recent show first. So if you have your podcatcher set to download every night, that is not a problem. But if you are out of town for 2 weeks, then all the episodes get messed up. That is also when you get 200+ back episodes to listen catch up on. Episode numbers would be wonderful. This does not apply to all podcasts like Ask Leo. Each podcast is a topic to itself. But those who build on each other need numbers.
Finally, I listen to podcasts for information and content. I really do not care what kind of music you like. It seems to me that is a throw back to the days of terrestrial radio. Those days are over. I know what the excuse is. “I want to get the music of these indie artists out there for the public to discover them.” If the public wants to discover them, then there are plenty of music podcasts.
Let me pick on Dr. Monte again. I feel comfortable doing this because it is currently one of my favorite shows. The information he gives is incredible. If you listen to no other of his episodes, you should hear episode 3 and episode 4. Great stuff, though sobering. The name of the podcast is Fitness Rocks. So he has built in the whole idea that you are going to listen to, in my not so humble opinion, music that is not worth having on this wonderful planet. Why? What is the point? The material he presents is good enough for its own show. What if I said we were going to go to a museum and learn all kinds of cool stuff (to me museums are insanely cool), but in the process we will walk around and have a rock band play interludes for us. Doesn’t that seem a bit dis-connected? Yet, that is what Dr. Monte’s podcast is to me. I will still listen until I get tired of fast forwarding through every song.
I have made personal suggestions to The Dump Runners Club, Phedippidations and Burning 20 that I don’t like their music. They don’t have to change anything for me. But, I am escalating the challenge to all podcasters to think about the way you put your show together.
Is it too long? Could a bit of organization tighten up the content and make it a joy to listen to? We are not looking for perfection, we are looking for passion. Passion keeps listeners. Disorganization and 1 hour shows that could be 30 minutes or less, drives listeners away.
I am not at all against a good intro, outro and some background music. But I don’t listen to podcasts for music. I have thousands of songs that I love on my iPod if I am interested.