Today, I did something I’ve been needing to do for a while — I finally cleaned out my podcast subscriptions to get them down to a more reasonable level. For the most part, I only listen to podcasts when I’m commuting, about 45 minutes to an hour per day, which makes the seven or eight hours a week that automatically appear in my iTunes more than I need. I’ve tried playing them at work, but when I am really focused, I don’t seem to hear a thing, so trying to follow a story is fairly pointless. And thus, the unplayed count creeps up. It doesn’t take up enough space on either my laptop or my iPhone to really matter, but for some reason having them pile up like virtual clutter and gets on my nerves. I did a podcast culling a year or so ago, and it did make things seem more manageable, but obviously, I’ve picked up more since then, so it’s time for a few to go again.
So, here’s what ended up on the chopping block:
The Splendid Table – I love food and like to cook, so this should be a great podcast for me, but I’ve never enjoyed it as much as I want to like it. There’s an element of food snobbery to it that I think is intended to be charming, but that I find grating.
President Obama’s Weekly Radio Address – It’s the 21st century version of FDR’s fireside chat, but I end up hearing most of its themes on the news, so it’s kind of redundant to download the speech.
A Way with Words – Even though Wendy was once on an episode, this one has to go. I like the premise — talking about the origins of words and colloquial expressions — but it’s just so meandering and the hosts kind of snipe at each other like they don’t really get along.
NPR 7am Newscast – I started downloading this during a phase where I was trying not to wake up to the radio, but never got rid of it when NPR worked its way back into my morning routine.
Here’s what stayed:
Americana: Inside the USA – This is from the BBC and looks at US politics and culture from a British perspective. The guests are always interesting, and even when the host isn’t quite on the mark about American culture, it’s fun to listen to.
The Writer’s Almanac – I’ve never been a huge fan of his “Prairie Home Companion,” but this offering from Garrison Keillor is my regular companion on the walk to Metro every morning. I love the daily trivia about literature, and while I’ve never been much of a poetry person, I’ve grown to like hearing a poem delivered in a Minnesota accent in the morning.
New York Times Book Review – Book reviews with a side of arrogance… It’s pompous as all hell, and yet I love it.
Capitals Report – The weekly podcast from the Washington Capitals media team. It wanders and is overly talky, but there’s always a few interesting tidbits.
Cast On – This is a long-running knitting podcast (currently on hiatus) that I’ve listened to almost as long as I’ve been a knitter. Great storytelling, better music, and overall very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to its expected return this spring.
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing – I wavered as to whether or not to keep this one. I like it, but I’ve been listening to it long enough that the tips are starting to repeat, so it may meet its demise soon.
A History of the World in 100 Objects – This is my new favorite podcast. It’s from the BBC and features the director of the British Museum talking about items from the museum’s collections, and what they say about the time they were created. It’s going in chronological order, starting with ancient Egyptian mummies. The first 30 objects have been done, and the series is scheduled to resume in May with another set. I can hardly wait!
The Labyrinth Library – This is a books podcast done by a friend of mine from college. The topics often veer much farther into sci-fi and fantasy than my taste in reading, but Chris has a good critical sensibility that makes the reviews interesting, even for books I probably will never read.
NPR Books – Yeah, another books podcast. What can I say, it’s apparently my favorite genre. This is made up of clips from “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and other NPR programs.
The Official LOST Podcast – I’m not sure this sheds any light on the show at all, but I listen anyway. Just in case.
Today in the Past – Described as a “the first page-a-day calendar without physical pages,” this offering from John Hodgman (of “The Daily Show” and “I’m a PC” fame) is a quick snippet of absurdity that almost always makes me laugh.
This American Life – Maybe the quintessential NPR program, with long-form storytelling, comedic sketches, and weird-but-true stories. I like this on the radio, but love it as a podcast because I get to listen when I want, not when WAMU tells me to.
Clearly, I kept way more than I tossed, but I’m still feeling a bit more under control. Of course, I can’t help but ask: is there anything out there that I should be listening to?