Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 2, 2009 6:49 AM

Six Podcasts You Should Listen To

In all of the fuss to rush to Twitter or fawn over some viral videos on YouTube, there's a subtle and ever-growing audio platform that seems to have lost some its lustre in terms of public excitement, but continues to grow in terms of loyal audience.

Podcasting continues to be one of the best ways to consume audio and video content. A good portion of this content is available free in places like iTunes, and it is staggering once you begin to deep-dive into the content just how rich, robust and fascinating the shows are.

Unlike streaming audio or video online or simply downloading an MP3 or WMV file onto your hard drive, the real power behind podcasting is in its subscription component. Without getting technical, podcasting is audio and video that is very similar to a blog in terms of how it is delivered to you. Once you subscribe (which is usually free - although there are some podcasts that charge a nominal fee), the minute the producer of the show publishes their content to the Web it is automatically delivered to your computer (in my case, this is done using Apple's iTunes). From there, you can sync it to your iPod and that's it: your choice of audio and video programming on your own schedule that you can pause, rewind, fast-forward or even delete.

Imagine being the program director of your own radio station, only you can also decide when the shows are "on the air." That's podcasting, and it will not only change the way you think about media, it will turn all of your downtime into a moment where you can learn, grow and expand or simply listen/watch some mindless entertainment. Podcasting truly is "as you like it."

Yes, you can get the latest in comedy and entertainment, sports and news and more. In fact, the true beauty of podcasting is how much more it is like narrowcasting vs. broadcasting. Interested in knitting? There's a podcast for that (multiple ones!). Interested in magic? Yup, there's more than a few for that subject matter, too. There are thousands of podcasts. Some are professionally produced by some of the more well-known mass-media outlets, while some are recorded on a Logitech headset with a microphone right into a laptop and edited using freeware like Audacity. Some are slick with high production values and others are more rugged and reminiscent of pirate radio.

There's something for everybody.

While many people listen to or watch podcasts on their laptops or desktops, make no mistake about it, as the iPhone and iPod continue to become an integral part of our day-to-day lives (in fact, the iPod is one of the best-selling consumer electronics devices in history), the portability of media is going to be an increasingly important component of how the mass public consumes media. So, instead of filtering the millions of blogs online or trying to make heads or tails of whether or not you should join FriendFeed, you can grab a handful of audio (or video) podcasts, sync them on to your iPod and head outside for the few months of summer we have in the city.

Here are six great podcasts that will get you excited about business, technology and new media (in alphabetical order):

1. For Immediate Release - The Hobson & Holtz Report - is hosted by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. This twice-weekly podcast usually runs about an hour per episode and features conversations and news critique on the state of public relations, communications and technology. If you like FIR, you might also want to check out Inside PR, JaffeJuice, Managing the Gray, and Marketing Over Coffee.

2. Harvard Business IdeaCast - from the publishers of the Harvard Business Review, this podcast (which you can get in audio and video formats) features great commentary from the top thinkers on the topics of management and leadership.

3. On the Media - courtesy of the good folks at National Public Radio, On the Media points a critical eye on items in the news and in the public forum. It can be highly critical but always presents new ways of looking not just at the news, but at ourselves.

4. Spark - Nora Young from the CBC hosts this show about technology and culture. It boasts itself as an "online collaboration" as it includes the community's thoughts, comments and insights, which helps to drive and push the programming content.

5. TED Talks - usually reserved for the one thousand people invited to this exclusive annual conference that has been dubbed, "gymnastics for the brain," TED Talks features the now-famous 18-minute presentations from some of the world's smartest thinkers and brightest minds (you can get the as both audio or video).

6. This Week In Tech - Leo Laporte is best-known as host of multiple TV shows on TechTV (now G4TechTV). The likeable and passionate technology guy loves to break it all down, explaining technology and keeping it simple for the everyday person. This Week In Tech, is his star-studded show for geeks, nerds and closet techies. Laporte is always entertaining and consistently discusses new and emerging technologies (hardware, software and online) to keep you ahead of your peers and the curve.

So, take a dive down the rabbit-hole that is podcasting. You'll never watch or listen to traditional mass media the same way again.

Which Podcasts have helped you shape the way you think about business, technology and new media?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

- Montreal Gazette - Here's six podcasts you should listen to.
Vancouver Sun - Podcasts can change the way you become informed.

By Mitch Joel