My can’t-miss podcasts

Posted on August 7, 2010 11:46 am by | Marketing | Mobile | Podcasting | PR | Social Media

It should come as no surprise that, as a podcaster, I’m still bullish on podcasting. It’s not the subject of much conversation. You don’t read a lot of posts about it. But that doesn’t mean podcasting has failed as a medium. I remember a declaration that the World Wide Web was on its way out because companies were no longer talking about their websites in press releases. On the contrary, that meant websites had become so commonplace that launching one was no longer news.

eMarketer’s 2009 report, “Podcasting: Into the Mainstream,” anticipates that 37.6 million people will download podcasts by 2013. While that’s nowhere near Facebook’s half-billion account holders, it represents steady, incremental growth. What’s more, a study from Edison Research early this year found that podcast listeners are financially well off; they pay attention to podcast advertisements, they???re difficult to reach through traditional advertising and they are six (count ‘em, six times as likely to enjoy the podcast ads as consumers of traditional media.

Podcasting is bound to continue gaining steam as mainstream media outlets continue to make content available as podcasts, awareness continues to expand and devices make it easier to subscribe. (There are some outstanding podcast subscription tools for the Android platform that let you find, subscribe to and download podcasts directly to your phone without the need to synch with a computer or connect to WiFi. (One of these, Listen, is from Google Labs. While I use a Zune for my music, I listen to all my podcasts on my HTC Evo.)

Listening to podcasts has become a routine part of my life. Between the treadmill and walking the dog and sitting on planes, I have a lot time for audio content consumption. That’s good, since I’ve become a regular listener to more than 20 podcasts. Whether I hear many of the shows to which I subscribe depends on how much listening time I have. If i miss one, it’s no big deal—I just catch up with the most recent episodes when time allows. However, there are several shows I can’t miss. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

This Week in Tech

Leo Laporte and his weekly panel of tech insiders is proof that there is no magic limit to a podcast’s length. Routinely running more than 90 minutes, TWiT is one of the most downloaded of all independent podcasts. The trick to maintaining an audience for that long: Make it seem like less. The panel is always engaging, funny and insightful as they cover the week’s tech news.

On the Media

This NPR show is repurposed as a podcast, which is great since I’m not going to stop what I’m doing to listen on the the radio when the show is broadcast on Sundays. Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield deliver an amazing hour of interviews and features about media, from traditional to social. If you work with media and you’re not listening, start. Now. Seriously.

Digital Flotsam

New episodes of P.W. Fenton’s story-telling podcast are few and far between—and absolutely worth waiting for. Fenton’s stories range from his youth to the recent past, and nobody does it better. I’ve wondered before: Why hasn’t NPR given this guy a regular spot on “All Things Considered” or “Morning Edition”? He’s better than most of their regular contributors. Peedub has had me laughing so hard I’ve had to pull the car over and he’s brought tears to my eyes. More cowbell? The hell with that. More Peedub. (Fenton is busy with some other podcasts, by the way, including some great blues shows.)

Evernote Blogcast

Evernote is the must-have service that helps you remember, well, anything. The podcast is a sparkling example of how a business can use a podcast to keep existing customers engaged. It’s an unscripted conversation hosted by “marketing guy” Andrew Sinkov with CEO Phil Libin and CTO Dave Engberg that covers news and announcements, coverage of features, interesting uses to which customers are putting Evernote, and my favorite section in which Libin and Engberg answer user questions submitted via Twitter.

Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey’s McGee is a Chicago-based progressive rock jam band that, like most jam bands, spends a lot of time touring. Each month, the band releases more than an hour of live music, a brilliant way to keep fans engaged between shows. Giving away its music is entirely consistent with the principles David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan address in their new book, “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.”

Media Bullseye Radio

CustomScoop’s Jen Zingsheim hosts this weekly roundtable discussion with a guest co-host (often Sarah Wurrey or Bryan Person) and a guest panelist (a spot filled by folks like Mitch Joel, Doug Haslam and Ike Pigott). The trio discuss three intriguing blog posts from the previous week.

On the Record Online

Eric Schwartzman’s long-running interview series continues to offer some of the best PR-focused content on the Net.

Rebooting the News

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen and Dave Winer, the innovator of RSS and a lot more, explore the various ways technology is changing the news business. Sometimes they have guests but mostly it’s the conversation between two guys who know a lot that makes the hour fly by. It’s not for casual listening; there’s a lot of substance here. You may not agree with everything (I don’t), but if it doesn’t make you think, you should check yourself for a pulse.

Marketing Over Coffee

You can spend several years and thousands of dollars studying marketing at a university. Or, you can listen to this weekly podcast from Christopher S. Penn and John Wall—part of the Boston Social Media Mafia—which is a clinic in marketing (both traditional and new) all by itself. The fact that the show is recorded at an obscenely early hour at a Boston-area Dunkin’ Donuts just adds to its charm.

Inside PR

Martin Waxman is the sole remaining co-host from the original series now that Terry Fallis and David Jones have departed, but the addition of Joe Thornley and Gini Dietrich has kept the show fresh. And, since Dietrich is from Chicago, it’s no longer focused on just Canadian public relations.

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Mignon Fogarty’s show is the exact opposite of Leo Laporte’s. Clocking in at about five minutes, each episode is a grammar lesson infused with humor and tidbits of information you may not have expected to get. High school grammar teachers should listen; maybe they can learn the lesson that grammar can be fun.

Trafcom News

Another show that doesn’t come out often enough but, hey, a girl’s gotta work, right? Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications conducts interviews and offers lessons in the fundamentals of organizational communication.

Marketing Edge

Albert Maruggi’s quick-and-dirty interview podcast features great guests (like Brian Solis and Mari Smith) talking about timely, topical marketing issues.

Managing the Gray

Another show that doesn’t come out often enough, but C.C. Chapman’s brain dump about whatever’s on his mind about new media is like a shot of adrenalin.

Six Pixels of Separation

Mitch Joel, president of Canadian digital marketing agency Twist Image, offers weekly thoughts on the world of online marketing; interviews with folks like Avniash Kaushik, Scott Stratten and Joe Jaffe; and episodes of “Media Hacks,” a conversation Mitch leads with whoever shows up from a pool of social media luminaries including Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman, Christopher S. Penn, Julien Smith and Hugh McGuire.

GeekBeat TV

I don’t watch many video podcasts for a number of reasons. Most of them, frankly, would be better as audio—there’s nothing to watch except people talking. Cali Lewis’s GeekBeat TV (formerly GeekBrief TV—the name changed when the show moved from Mevio to Revision 3) is a major exception. Lewis and her team take huge advantage of the fact that they’re on video, showing off the tech about which they’re reporting, running quick videos and employing sophisticated video techniques. It’s also a quick show, clocking in under five minutes.

Social Media Hour

Cathy Brooks uses BlogTalk Radio to host guests to discuss social media and business. Some recent guests include Mari Smith (she gets around), Jason Falls, Esther Dyson, Tony Hsieh, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Sarah Evans and Dr. Kiki Sanford.

08/07/10 | 13 Comments | My can’t-miss podcasts



  • 1.Thanks for sharing, Shel. There's a few titles there I haven't given a try. Podcasts are teh bomb!

    Eric Eggertson | August 2010

  • 2.Couldn't agree more, Shel.

    I love podcasts but it always amazes me just how many people within communications don't listen to them. My daily commute is a 3 hour roundtrip, meaning plenty of room for great audio content.

    Also pleased to learn that I listen to a good 75% of the pods you recommend. Though I'm always pleased to get new recommendations.

    For anyone else who stumbles across this post, be sure and add FIR to your podcast list. Get so much of my social media insight from Shel and Neville!

    Keep up the good work.

    Allan Barr | August 2010 | Glasgow, Scotland

  • 3.Thanks for mentioning (and listening to) InsidePR, Shel! I'd love to know how you manage to listen to all of these? Do you just keep them on in the background while you work?

    Gini Dietrich | August 2010 | Chicago, IL

  • 4.Thanks for the plug Shel!

    John Wall | August 2010 | Boston

  • 5.Thanks for the mention, Shel. This list depressed me. It made me realize how much I have fallen behind in listening to audio Podcasts. I've added all of these to my iTunes and I'm going to get back into the Podcasting deep-dive... promise.

    Mitch Joel - Twist Image | August 2010 | Montreal, Quebec

  • 6.Thanks for both mentioning and leading the way. Radio (audio) does get into one's blood so regardless of how many listen, it is still a useful medium.

    As long as we are expected to be a multitasking society, the passive medium of audio will have a purpose.

    All the best.

    Albert Maruggi | August 2010 | St. Paul, MN

  • 7.Hi Shel. I'm bullish on podcasting too. Thanks for including Trafcom News on your can't-miss list. Of course For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report is at the top of MY must-listen list.

    I tune into many of the podcasts on your list, but a couple are new to me; I'll check them out. I discovered Digital Flotsam thanks to you a few years ago; I just love it.

    Donna Papacosta | August 2010 | Toronto

  • 8.Wow, thanks for the mention Shel! Your book on podcasting is at my side, and of course FIR sets the standard for podcasts as far as I'm concerned.

    Recording the Roundtable is one of my favorite parts of my job--and, I've learned so much.

    Digital Flotsam sounds right up my alley...adding a new one to listen to now!


    Jen Zingsheim | August 2010

  • 9.Shel, great overview. Interesting observation that because no one is talking about podcasting demonstrates its strength, not its weakness.

    TJ Walker | August 2010 | New York City

  • 10.Thanks Shel, there were a few in here I had not yet heard of.

    I wrote a similar post on my blog, on which I called you and Neville "The Bert and Ernie of Podcasting." A few more marketing related 'casts worth a listen here:

    Plus, two more recommendations:
    * The Tobolowsky Files: Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky is a MASTER storyteller. His podcast is my absolute favorite. If you like This American Life, you'll like this. Trust me, people. Listen and you'll be inexplicably riveted. (By the way, you might not know where, but you've seen this guy in movies. He was Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day).

    * The Techflash podcast is a relatively new one that focuses on tech companies here in Seattle.


    Rob Wolf | August 2010 | Mercer Island, WA

  • 11.What a great list! I will add some of these to my list right now, but #1 will always be FIR. I look forward to listening every week and never miss an episode.

    Jeff Davis | August 2010 | Baltimore

  • 12.Thanks for the link to "Marketing Edge" I'll check it out!

    Rob Davidson | August 2010 | Phoenix, AZ

  • 13.Thanks so much for including me, Shel! I appreciate it! :)


    Cali Lewis | August 2010 | Dallas, TX

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