Podcasts: warm-up on your way

I love listening to podcasts, especially on my way work (or home). The 1-hour-long commuting duration gives me a perfect chance to put on my headphone, pick one or two pre-downloaded podcast, and listen them through. It actually becomes a very relaxing time that turns the bald into an enjoyable experience.

Roles & Ecosystem

There are multiple distinct roles involved in the podcast ecosystem.

Host: A smart person (or 2 or 3 or more) who has special interests in some aspects of the world willing to share ideas to benefit others. The host is usually a multi-fold all-rounder — collect and select topics for each episode, contact guest speaker(s), coordinate logistics (time, location, question lists etc), introduce speaker at the beginning of each show, ask questions, involve in the discussion, post-show editing, basically everything needed to make the audio show a smooth experience for both guest speaker and audiences.

A couple of friends co-host a podcast channel becomes quite popular these days. This mode helps to ensure consistent delivery of quality product as co-hosts can take turn. In the case multiple hosts jump on the same show, it could bring audience a natural sense of teamwork and friendly atmosphere.

Guest: The main speaker of an podcast episode, can be a celebrity, an expert in one specific area, or an ordinary individual. The guest is put to the center of the stage, sharing his/her unique experiences, perspectives, viewpoints about one pre-selected topic. An informative self introduction is usually a great start to let audiences gain better understanding who the speaker is and what they should expect to learn.

There could be multiple guests being invited to the same podcast show, like a round table conference.

Audience: The majority in the ecosystem who subscribe, download, and listen to podcasts provided by hosts and guest speakers. The audiences are the final consumers of podcasts. They are expected to influence the popularity of podcast channels by modern means of sharing through email or various social networks.

Openness & freedom: Podcasting is by nature an open way of idea sharing, in the form of free audio product, published out to the public. Anyone can subscribe to them free of charge. Hosts extend their network by talking with different guests, and control the topics and direction of their podcasts. Lots of podcasts would get financial support when they become popular, in return a small fraction of ads time will be reserved at the beginning, middle, or end of each show. It’s a win-win situation which enable hosts to devote more efforts onto the podcast producing work to get more guests and audiences involved, promoting a healthy podcasting ecosystem.


Apps

Since most of the podcasts I listen to were on the way (bus, train), I need a mobile app to play my podcasts. Actually most of the podcast apps nowadays support additional features like channel subscribing, episode download, play progress tracking.

Back in 3 years agao, I started my podcast listening on my iPhone, using Apple iTune app. Right after switching my mobile device to Android phone about 1.5 years ago, I managed to find an equivalent app on Google Play, called CastBox, with shares nearly the same icon as Apple iTune. CastBox is specialised on podcast management. Soundcloud became popular these days, which is another cool app that provide both free music and podcast services.

CastBox App on Google Play

Tips for audiences

To enjoy uninterrupted playing of one episode you love, pre-download using WiFi is a wise step to prepare. Trust me, network speed is not always as ideal as you want, especially when your vehicle goes through a tunnel, or 20+ people next to you are busy tapping their mobiles.

Pause the play when your headphone or bluetooth disconnects is another handy setup. It is usually the default setting for most podcast apps.

One special feature I found quite handy on CastBox is smart removal, that is, marking one episode as being played and get it removed if only a small amount of time (e.g. 20 seconds) is left unplayed. It could address one typical scenario that while an episode playing to the end, the speaker start to summarise, or the host repeat their contact info, which is of little interest to you, you can simply pause or just to the next episode without need to take of this episode, as the app will be ‘smart’ enough to clean it up. Your storage space gets returned promptly.

Another tip worth to mention is show note. Why important? Because it is the ‘reference’ section which provide extension reading for the specific episode. Responsible hosts will likely collect and put together a list of links regarding interesting topics mentioned during the episode, to make them available online for their audiences. So do check out the show notes if you find one episode is your taste.


My subscriptions

Most of podcast channels I subscribed to are technology focused. Also got some non-tech channels for diversity. I like to get myself exposed to industry hype, learn what other people thoughts and interpretations.

Here is the list of podcast channels in my CastBox app:

Open Source:

FLOSS weekly

Changelog

The Linux Action Show

Programming:

Podcast.__init__(‘Python’)

Talk Python To Me

Programming Throwdown

Software Engineering Daily

Software Engineering Radio

DevOps:

Arrested DevOps

Puppet

GC On-Demand

To Be Continuous

Database:

Cassandra Community

Cloud:

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Pivotal Conversation

Pivotal Insights

The Cloud Cast

The NewStack Analysts

Openstack & Beyond

Security:

O’Reilly Security

Product Management | Startup | Design | Art:

Inside Intercom

Overtime

Thoughtworks

Unmistakable Creative

Misc:

Future Human

Judging Silicon Valley

Magpie Talkshow