A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasts

There are regrettable times of day when I am required to disconnect myself from the internet and interact with human society for the purpose of maintaining things such as rent, social bonds, and the dog next to me (who is currently making unsubtle sad eyes about his unscratched ears). I imagine this experience would be a good deal more disturbing if I didn’t have a constant stream of voices winding their way into my ears, running the gamut from nebbish shut-ins discussing internet justice to nebbish shut ins discussing popular culture to throat spiders.

I’m here to bring the good news of podcasts, is what I’m saying. Not the Kevin Smith, ‘y’all should all get out and make a podcast because it’s creatively freeing and easy’ good news (though that’ll probably come up some day down the line), but the ‘why are people even bothering to listen to music when they could be taking in information and stories on almost anything.’ But then I realized that ‘almost anything’ is a pretty intimidating notion for anyone who’s never even bothered looking outside the music section of iTunes.

A podcast, for the uninitiated, is a downloadable audio file. That’s it, by its broadest parameters. The medium has its roots in radio (particularly talk radio, with Ricky Gervais being one of the earliest to put his show on the bandwagon), but nowadays a podcast can follow any format, subject, or approach and still find a niche group of fans. For the purpose of keeping things contained, we’ll take a look at three fairly broad subgroupings: Infotainment, BS, and Scripted.

[Note: while they’re a thriving entity, I’m avoiding talk of podcasts dedicated to specific shows: they tend to be both in the moment and even more niche than general subject podcasts, and I find they’re better found by being a fan of the show in question rather than just looking for a new podcast.]

And remember: this is only a beginning guide. There are all sorts of podcasts I’m discovering on a daily basis.

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