There’s a good chance that you are reading this article on your own time and at your own pace. Great; but there’s just one slight “hitch”. You are somewhat tied to your screen from the start to the end (I don’t mind, by the way!). That’s where a podcast shows its merit.
Listening as against reading, is a more immersive experience. That’s why anyone who loves podcasts would recommend it for all the idle minutes you have…or for simply relaxing while commuting or after. Podcasting followed blogging into the mainstream. A podcast combines the liveliness of a radio show with the economy of a blog post. But unlike blog posts which are easily discoverable with a web search, podcasts – especially the good ones – take some digging. Word of mouth (literally) remains the best way to discover the next great podcast. If the grapevines are silent, here are a few more ways to find new podcasts.
Arguably, it can be said that the iPod gave podcasts the wings. Today, some of the best podcasts find a home on iTunes. In July, Apple announced that total number of podcast subscriptions had crossed 1 billion across 250,000 podcasts in 100 languages. This mammoth content should be enough till the day we lose our hearing, but the fun is in discovering the gems among the shale. For instance, the NPR podcasts are the ones James recommended as an essential technology podcast for geeks. The page I have linked to above tells you how to discover the best podcasts on iTunes. You can also download the Podcasts app for iOS if you want to take a stab at regular listening.
Swell Radio (U.S. & Canada only)
We stick to the Apple ecosystem with Swell Radio, which found a place on TIME’s Best iPhone Apps 2013. The best thing about this free iOS app is that it learns from your interests as you like or skip along and tailors its recommendations in a For You list. It also catches what’s trending based on popularity and the community that’s growing on Swell. You can further finetune serendipitous discovery of new podcasts by using a filter called Interest Picker. The user interface is simple which doesn’t ask for your second to minute intervention. Hit play, close your eyes, and allow the intelligent recommendations to take over.
Chris recommended Stitcher Radio as one of the best podcast apps for Android. Stitcher has a free iOS app as well. You can pick from 20,000+ radio shows and podcasts with a search or go for the best ones that are curated by Stitcher on its Top 20 lists. You can create smart playlists for your favorite shows, and in case one is missing, go ahead and recommend it. Stitcher also recommends new shows by considering your listening habits and taking cues from what others are listening to as well.
Player.fm has an Android app, but it is basically a web application for discovering and curating your favorite podcasts. The online podcast discovery service wants to make searching for podcasts on niche topics easier. Player.fm streams out 2,139,057 live episodes from 26,276 series that are organized in 2,392 channels. Your subscriptions are saved in the cloud, and it also gives you the option of downloading them locally. You can download selected podcasts individually and listen to them locally anytime you want, as an alternative to subscribing to them. Follow their Twitter handles like @podcastoftheday and @apodcastisborn to discover new podcasts. You can also sign up for recommendations via their newsletters.
CastRoller is another online subscription tool for podcasts. The website follows the usual route of podcast discovery and recommendations to help you find the next cool thing to listen to. Users can create channels to organize their favorite podcasts from the ones in the site’s index and the recommendations from the social circle. Just like the web app above, it gives you one central place to manage your podcast subscriptions.
The redoubtable name when it comes to audio. I included NPR in this list even though it’s not a comprehensive resource for universal podcasts; but if you are an audio buff, this is the place you would go to after iTunes. The selection may not be huge, but it is all quality.
Learn out Aloud stands apart from the others on the list, because it focusses on educational audio books, videos, downloads, and podcasts. If you like learning on the go, then this is an invaluable resource. It is not a free lunch as Learn out Aloud is a mix of free and paid offerings. The podcast directory has 2000 titles you can choose from. If you just want to stick to the free downloads, there is still a lot to pick from. For instance, the “self-development” category lists nearly 79 resources. Here’s one to perk your interest – the Getting Things Done Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the “Free Resource of the Day Email” which features one fresh free audio or video learning title every day.
Interested in more free audio books? Read 10 Best Websites For Free Audio Books.
Podcast Search Engines
If iTunes and the rest of the polished resources that followed it on this list fail to get you the listen-worthy podcast (I doubt it), maybe it’s time to try out some podcast search engines. Podcast search isn’t in a great shape, and you will have better luck with regular Google or Bing Search. They are simply implementations of Google Custom Search. Here’s a short list of two:
Don’t forget the good old fashioned podcast directories. A few years back I had listed five podcast directories to keep in mind. From my experience, listening to podcasts is an acquired taste – you generally stick to the selected few you find and like. Searching for really niche and specialized podcasts takes a bit more fine picking. The above resources should help; if not then it’s time to fire up the good old search engines.
How do you find new podcasts? Do you have any super-resource in mind that we have absolutely missed on this list? Also tell us about any podcast we should catch…immediately. The comment space is for that – your recommendations. Type them in.
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