There used to be a time when I listened to podcasts when there was absolutely nothing else to do. Now, I find that I look to make more time to listen to podcasts (usually long bathroom breaks, multiple walks around the block, more time away from friends and loved ones). These digital versions of what used to be radio talk shows turned mainstream when Serial, Sarah Koenig’s non-fiction crime caper podcast, burst into the public consciousness in 2014. Since then they have been something of a life-saver.
Podcasts, in my experience, can be mind-opening, fun, informative, helpful, weird, relaxing, and, sometimes, all of these things at the same time. There’s a poetic intimacy to podcasts — the soothing voices of the presenters evoke a by-gone era of retro radio shows, filled with information that’s not meant to inform, but to enrich. They are the one true global village of voices and opinions. And if you’re still searching for content that’s not agenda-driven and is, instead, made with fervent passion and for the sheer love of creating and sharing, then podcasts are the way to go.
The good news is that there is a podcast for everyone. Love bonsai gardening? There’s a podcast for that (The Bonsai Garden Podcast by Gary Howell). Do you enjoy learning about science through humour? Infinite Monkey Cage has you covered. Do you need to know everything about hockey? Listen to Marek vs Wyshynski. Conversation Parade: An Adventure Time Podcast is just two guys discussing the depths and intricacies of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time week after week. On Nerdette, you get to listen to two women geek out on movies, books and all the things that make people happy.
So whether you’re into sports, tech, science, pop culture, the arts, relationship advice, beauty, pets or wellbeing, you’re sure to find a podcast that will keep you hooked.
And helping you along the way will be The Podcast Post — your weekly guide to the best podcasts out there. And to get you started, here’s a little primer on everything you need to know about podcasts.
What is a podcast?
Without coming off as too technical, a podcast is any audio file that is made available for streaming or download on a regular interval on the internet, usually as part of a themed series or programme.
How do I listen to them?
All you need is a smartphone with a working internet connection (3G and upwards is ideal). A desktop or laptop will work for those who sit at the same spot for hours on end. And finally, a pair of comfortable earphones.
What apps do I need?
Podcasting apps help listeners subscribe to and automatically download and sort podcast files onto their phones for easy listening. Whether you’re an Apple or Android user, there are tons of apps on the market for you to choose from.
If you’re an iPhone addict, take my advice and download Marco Ament’s Overcast. A clean and slick UI combined with audio and file management features, the app neatly handles playback and downloads, with the user having to do minimal work.
For Android users, Pocket Casts is ideal if you don’t mind shelling out a few dirhams (Dh33) for the app itself as a one-time cost. Its tile design makes it easy for users to navigate the list of podcasts you follow and sift through individual episodes. For a free app, look no further than Podcast Addict — features like automatic deletion to save space, variable speed playback and a sleep timer make this a top quality app.
When should I listen to podcasts?
Since podcasts travel with you wherever your phone goes, they are accessible almost all the time. The best time to listen to podcasts would be when you’re doing jobs that require little brain power. Activities such as cooking, commuting, showering, working out, walking the pets or even lunch breaks make suitable listening time for podcasts. The point is to enrich those moments of your time when you’re otherwise not doing much. I also make it a point to try and listen to podcasts right before I go to bed — a lot of them make for ideal bed-time stories and help take your mind away from stressful matters.