How I Listen To Podcasts

How I Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to get information for a busy person. It’s like blog articles in audio – you can listen on your commute, while washing dishes, weeding, exercising and more. Today we’ll look at what podcasts are and how I listen to them.

I discovered podcasts with my first MP3 player over 10 years ago. I was frustrated with commercial radio, and public radio often left me depressed. I had tried listening to books on tape, but they were long and I often lost track of the plot because of the time between my listening. Enter podcasts, and my viewpoint changed.

What Podcasts Are

Podcasts are like radio shows, but available when you want to listen to them. This is the important difference between broadcast media and podcasts…you get to choose when to listen; you’re not bound by someone else’s schedule.

Podcasts are downloaded to your device (MP3 player, phone, computer) so that you can listen without being connected to the internet.

Podcasts are created by single people, teams, and corporations. They cover every subject you can think of. They come out in varying frequencies from daily to weekly to monthly to whenever the podcaster feels like it.

Why Podcasts?

Here are my main reasons to listen to podcasts:

  • I get to pick what I listen to.
  • I get to listen when I want, not tied to someone else’s clock.
  • I can listen where I want, through downloading to my phone.
  • I can hear various viewpoints without the commercial structure.
  • I can listen to my favorite radio shows on my own schedule (most radio shows have podcasts)
  • I benefit from the shorter time span; I don’t lose track of what was being said or plot.

My Preferred Software

I started using the Apple podcast software that was bundled with iTunes. I found some problems with the software, though. These were mainly bugs that skipped episodes, deleted non-listened to episodes, and incomplete downloads. Frustrated with the bugs that had been reported for months and no action taken, I started looking around. (As a software engineer, I have no patience for bugs that cripple software and then have no solution for long periods of time)

After evaluating several options, I settled on an app called iCatcher. It’s been my software of choice for years. It handles everything I want, including download over wifi (so I don’t have to be connected to my computer), as well as playlists to segment my episodes. (more about this below)

iCatcher is a great app, and is updated frequently. They’re very responsive to bugs, and the app is solid. It was well worth the $3.99 to be free from the bugs.

Managing Downloads

One of the things I love about iCatcher is that I can be subscribed to podcasts in two different ways: one that automatically downloads new episodes, and one that is more manual.

When I subscribe to a podcast, I want to get the latest episodes. But sometimes there are podcasts where I want to be more choosy. I don’t want to download and delete, but I still want to be aware of episodes I might want to listen to. Sometimes this is because the podcast updates too frequently, or because it may only occasionally talk about what I am interested in, or in some cases, because the podcast has podfaded and I only want to know if they resume.

iCatcher allows me to have podcasts in three states: subscribed, where the new episodes automatically download; unsubscribed, where I can manually refresh and then pick which episodes to download; and unknown, where they don’t appear in the software at all.

Once a week, I go into iCatcher and push the button to download the latest episodes of my subscribed list. Then I scroll down and update the episode list for the unsubscribed podcasts. I go through and pick which episodes to download for each one.

Managing Backlog

Sometimes I don’t listen enough. And the episodes keep coming. At those points, when I look at the app and realize I have more hours of downloaded content than I can listen to in a week or two. So it becomes necessary to weed it out.

I go through all my downloaded episodes and ruthlessly delete episodes that I don’t need to hear right now. I can do this because I can always choose to re-download episodes later on; I’m not cutting myself off permanently.

Managing Listening

There are specific times when I listen to podcasts: while exercising, weeding, doing housework, commuting and sometimes during work itself. However, not all podcasts are helpful for concentration.

Because of that, I have split my podcasts into three groups, using playlists: work, non-work and all.

The work playlist has podcasts that I can listen to with little concentration. These include my music podcasts, and most radio shows.

The non-work playlist has everything else, and is used when I’m doing tasks that don’t require my full attention.

The all playlist is everything, and I generally run that when I’m in the car.

My Favorite Podcasts

Podcasts are a great source of information and entertainment. Here are my favorites:

  • The Irish and Celtic Music Podcast (subscribed, work)
  • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (not subscribed due to interest, work)
  • Get It Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips (not subscribed due to interest, work)
  • Lore (subscribed, not work)
  • Audio News from the Archaeology Channel (subscribed, work)
  • The Creative Penn (subscribed, not work)
  • Unobscured (subscribed, not work)
  • 60 Second Science (not subscribed, work)
  • Optimal Living Daily (not subscribed due to volume, not work)
  • TED Radio Hour (not subscribed due to interest, not work)


Podcast allows me to be entertained and informed without being at the mercy of someone else’s schedule or agenda. with my phone and a simple app, I can have content with me wherever I go.

— Photo by Daniel Fontenele on Unsplash —