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December 7, 2009

Great podcasts - and a complaint about them

I've been loving my iPhone ever since I bought it this last summer, because it can do so many things.  It's not surprising that "There's an app for it!" has become a running joke in the media (saw it on CSI, just to name one show).
But one thing I hadn't done until just recently is take advantage of  the ability to listen to podcasts on it.  I think this is one of the greatest innovations in a long while, where people can produce audio (and sometimes visual) content for the masses to download and play at their leisure.  The ability to download these podcasts to your iPhone (or iPod) and listen to them on the go makes them even cooler.

I used to listen to a couple of podcasts on my computer at work, either through iTunes or my feed reader (Noopod).  But it was only recently that these podcasts have become part of my drive to and from work. 

So here's what I find worth listening to, and highly recommend to others with similar tastes.  The cool thing is that you can listen to them in other ways than through an iPod/iPhone, so you have no excuse not to take my brilliant advice.  My one complaint about podcasts will be after these, so if you want to skip (but why would you hurt my feelings by doing that?), you can go down there.

1) OXM Magazine podcast

This is a no-brainer for me, a man who loves his Xbox.  The Official Xbox Magazine podcast is a weekly podcast with a couple of staff editors and writers from the magazine hosting it.  Typically, it's Ryan McCaffrey and Dan Amrich, though in this week's episode they said goodbye to Dan, who is now going to be working at Activision.  This podcast is hilarious (I'm assuming Ryan's chemistry with the new guy will be just as good, as he and Dan were perfect) but also informative.  It keeps you up to date on what's coming out on the Xbox, as well as interviews with major figures in the video game industry.  It's all devoted to Xbox, but they do criticize Microsoft when appropriate, so don't think it's just the "party line."  If you have a more varied pallet (multi-console), I would suggest something like Games Radar (I haven't listened to them, but they are all things videogame).  PC Gamer also has a podcast that I used to listen to when I played PC games, and it was quite good if that is what you are into.

2) The Roadhouse

The finest blues you've never heard, to steal their tagline (I'm doing it to advertise them, so I assume they won't mind).  This is a great podcast if you're into Blues music.  Hosted by Tony Steidler-Dennison, this podcast will give you a good hour of great blues music every week, almost guaranteed to be something you've never heard.  Unless you're so into the Blues that you know pretty much everybody and every song.

3) Irish & Celtic Music Podcast

Yes, I am into Celtic music, and have been for quite a while.  This podcast, hosted by Celtic music performer Marc Gunn has a wide array of Celtic music, from Irish drinking songs to Scottish bagpipes, to wonderful fiddle music from Nova Scotia to Australia and all around the world.  I've only listened to a couple of episodes so far of this bi-monthly podcast, but it's certainly helped assuage my Celtic music sweet tooth.  I understand why it isn't, but I just have to say that he should release more often!  I have a feeling that, once I'm caught up, 2 months will be hard to wait.
There are more that I would like to try, and probably will, but I just don't have the time right now.  I mainly listen in the car, and so my week is already pretty full with these three.  If I find any others, I'll gladly share them.

Now, on to my complaint.

Granted, I only have a sample of three, but for some reason, music podcasts seem to really dampen the audio volume of the spoken voice.  Both Tony and Marc are almost impossible to hear in my car when they're talking in between songs.  Only if I have my windows closed and there is no city noise around me can I even come close to hearing them.  The song volume is fine; in fact, it's very good.  But I can't hear them talk!

Meanwhile, it seems (from my one example, anyway), that podcasts that are all spoken word, like the OXM podcast, don't do this.  I have no problems hearing Ryan and Dan during their podcast.  It's really annoying, because I do want to hear what Marc & Tony have to say.  But my volume's at maximum, so I can't turn it up any more.

If anybody who can do anything about this read this, then please do so.  I would be eternally grateful.


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