My first digital music player was a Rio, and I first signed up for the iTunes store in 2005. But for a music phase in high school, Bob Dylan is the only artist for which I’ve regularly kept a music collection. My favorite things to listen to are podcasts and audiobooks.
TWiT: This Week in Tech, was the initial podcast that got me hooked. At that time I was working with several early stage funds and by simply downloading the weekly podcast I could listen to a different perspective on many of the goings-on in the tech industry.
One of the things that I most appreciated about TWiT was the context. The founder had worked in radio, had worked at startups that had failed in the space by going too big too early and was clearly dog-fooding. They were trying out new things. They were users of the same technologies they were covering and those same companies were advertising regularly on the show. While this was clearly going to create some conflicts, it makes for a lot of positive feedback loops in the coverage the team provides. It has been impressive to see how the platform has grown and the direction they want to take it.
CNET‘s family of podcasts was the second group that I started listening to on a regular basis. I don’t subscribe to any now, as most of those early show hosts moved on to other things. Many of them wound up at TWiT – and even now many of them have left TWiT.
In many ways the acquisition of CNET by CBS in 2008 followed the same problems called out by the team at TWiT. With the dramatic reduction in the cost of broadcasting, talent has less need to work with a large network to cover their costs and secure advertisers. This is the same problem all forms of media are now facing.
Bill Simmons, Freakonomics and SALT: Seminars About Long Term Thinking, made up the next cohort. Podcasts have an odd way of referring you to other podcasts. TWiT’s Triangulation podcast and their uses of guest hosts on the TNT:Tech News Today show did a great job of exposing other podcast hosts to new audiences. These three shows also do the same.
The most recent cohort was initiated with the Joe Rogan Experience, which can be very hit or miss depending on the guests. Like many of the others, his videos are available online at Youtube and elsehwere. This was followed by Barbell Shrugged, the amazing Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and most recently the launch of a podcast by the team at Cracked.
Those are the podcasts that are set to automatically download on a regular basis, which when combined with audio books, make up the background noise I’m most often listening to.