Maybe it’s a sign of getting older but, along with new tastes for full-bodied red wine and extra mature cheddar cheese, talk radio (mostly BBC Radio 4) has joined my list of preferences; and as I regularly spend approximately 12 to 15 hours of my working week driving around south-east England this is a perfect opportunity to catch up on the modern equivalent of talk radio – podcasts.
Podcasting (and the various derivatives thereof) have really caught on over the last year or so (helped by Apple’s bundling of podcatching capabilities within iTunes) and were the main reason I bought an iPod last year, although it’s probably worth mentioning that you don’t need an iPod – any digital media player will do – the main requirement is to be able to receive new podcasts via an RSS feed and synchronise with the digital media player. My iPod is connected to the car stereo via a 3.5mm headphone jack but other options include the Griffin iTrip and burning MP3 CDs to listen to via the normal CD player.
Much of the available content originates from the United States but there is some British content too – many “old media” companies have jumped on the podcasting bandwagon and even the BBC has some content available for download. I highly recommend The Now Show but many popular radio shows now have podcast derivatives and even BBC News has got in on the event with audio and video podcasts.
It’s not just broadcast media that is using podcasting to reach new audiences though – forward-thinking organisations have recognised the power of the corporate podcast (e.g. First Direct); and when Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0 last November they released a 45 minute audio download to complement the launch events, featuring information from their developer and platform group experts.
As a techie, podcasting is a great way to keep up-to-date with industry news and the UK trade weekly IT Week now has a short podcast discussing two or three of the week’s top stories. The TWiT network also has several podcasts that I listen to routinely – including This Week in Tech, Inside the Net and MacBreak Weekly – and last week this list was extended with a new Windows Weekly podcast featuring well-known Microsoft commentator Paul Thurrott. Other tech podcasts that I listen to include The iLifeZone.
If, like me, you are suffering from e-mail, blog and paper-based information overload, then I recommend podcasting as an alternative method for catching up on events.