Pod-cast (noun) A multimedia digital file made available on the internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.
This was a word that until three years ago I had never used with a straight face. People would tell me about a great podcast I should listen to, and I would smile and nod earnestly, and then go back to ripping CDs onto my computer. Oh, how naive I was. For shame.
The big change was when I got my first iPhone. Suddenly I was being forced to use iTunes, and as such, I felt a certain obligation to try out these 'podcasts' I kept hearing about. I started with a couple that had been recommended to me, and from there, was pointed to another. And then I heard that a comedy duo I liked had a podcast of their Saturday morning show, so I got that. And then I decided I needed one to tell me about video games. And within a year I was having to play them at 2x speed just to get through what I downloaded in the week. Since then, I have become a little more discerning in my listening habits, but nonetheless manage to fit in around 8 hours a week of condensed 'casts.
So, here for your listening pleasure, are my favourite podcasts.
1. This American Life - Probably one of the definitive podcasts out there, being as it is a direct translation of one of the definitive National Public Radio shows broadcast in America. The stories featured on this hour long show are sometimes amusing, sometimes saddening, but always entertaining.
2. Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo's Film Reviews - There are lots of movie review podcasts out there (two on this list alone), but few manage to combine the polished professionalism of the BBC, with the dynamic chemistry of an unconventional 'married couple'.
3. Planet Money - Another NPR production, this podcast sprung up in the aftermath of the "global economic crisis". Its aim is to take the complex world of economics, and present it in understandable, relevant, and entertaining bite-sized chunks. It does this very well.
This next selection all come from a single source - Frogpants Studios. This collective of podcasters has been wrangled together by Scott Johnson, an artist and prolific podcaster in his own right. The podcasts I listen to all happen to feature Scott himself, however Frogpants also host a number of previously independent shows, covering everything from Shakespeare to predictions about the future of the world.
5. The Final Score - There are plenty of video game podcasts, but what I like about this one is the mix of topics. It isn't all about the latest reviews and news, but rather a mix of this and old games, music, and other bits of nostalgia. I often end a show with a burning desire to dig out my SNES.
6. AppSlappy - A show for all your iOS device needs. This podcast covers all the latest news and rumours about Apple's portable market developments, and adds a healthy dose of app reviews to boot. Half the games on my phone came from this show.
7. The Instance - It doesn't come much more niche than this. A podcast dedicated to players of the MMORPG World of Warcraft. If you play the game, you probably already listen to this.
8. Hypothetical Help - Sometimes I don't want my podcasts to be informative, educational, or even coherent. Sometimes I just want to listen to bizarre rantings that are skilfully presented as heartfelt advice to callers. When I want that, I put on this show.
9. Film Sack - My final Frogpants recommendation acts as a perfect counterpoint to the Kermode show mentioned above. This one is also about films, but it is about those films that you probably saw as a teenager and remember fondly as being classics. This show has a habit of shattering those memories, but when having your nostalgia dashed is this much fun, you won't care.
There is just one more show I want to recommend to you, and sadly it is one that is currently on hiatus. I cannot wait for the bright day when its return is announced.
10. Adam & Joe - You may remember these guys from their Channel 4 show in the 90s. Well, after years bouncing around, they found a comfy home on digital station BBC Radio 6 Music. For a long while they provided weekly entertainments, that were then boiled down (i.e. had the music removed) to the podcast format. Utterly hilarious, utterly entertaining, and utterly missed. I really hope that the BBC sort out their problems and get these guys back on the air soon.
So there we go. A convenient list of ten shows that I thoroughly enjoy. I hope you give at least one of them a try, and you may even find that you are as hooked as I am.
If you have any perfect podcasts to share, please send them my way.
Follow Sam Sheppard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheSamSheppard