I've long had a love/hate relationship with podcasts. I work from home, so I don't have much in terms of steady downtime to listen to podcasts. I find I can only enjoy them while doing intellectually non-demanding things like highway driving in a car or sitting on public transport. When I've had hours to kill on road trips and a slew of comedy shows I've had a good time but as my time gets more valuable I've culled my lists of shows to less than half a dozen I really love, and besides just one or two, I don't go out of my way to listen to them immediately after they update.
When I finally tried out 99% Invisible after hearing so much good press about it, it rekindled my love of the form. First off, it's unlike every other podcast I listen to in that it's only about 10 minutes per episode instead of 90+min of talking. It is edited tightly so it's both packed with information and devoid of the common podcast deadtime of "so… what else is there to talk about?" There are always great interviews with experts, the website has a full word-for-word transcript of every show, and the subject matter is always fascinating even if I thought I wouldn't care at the start of each show. It makes me wish every other show I listen to tried to be as good as 99% Invisible (including my own).
The short length, deep knowledge, and tight editing mean every new episode is a delight and also an insane amount of work for the guy behind it, Roman Mars (I've heard him say each episode takes about 40hrs of his personal time to create and having editing audio before I would fully believe that number). I would strongly recommend giving the show a try. Thanks to the short length, you can listen to half a dozen in an hour and quickly catch all the back episodes.
If you end up loving this podcast as much as I do, by all means help it out by backing the next season of it over on Kickstarter. They've got a fundraising partner who will kick in $10,000 if they can get up to 5,000 backers and I'd really like to see Roman hit it.
Another excellent ten minute podcast is the BBC’s Witness series which encapsulates a series of huge topics in short order.
Thanks Matt! I’ve added it to my list. Your Metafilter podcast was actually the first podcast I’d ever heard and I fell in love with the medium right then and there. Since that time I spend nearly 100% of my solo driving, walking, and cycling time listening to podcasts to the point where I sometimes get anxious that something big may be happening in the “real time” world and I’m the last one to know about it.
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