How do podcasts fit within your life these days

The New York Times is starting a new audio app.

New York Times Audio is a new listening experience we are testing. The invite-only beta gives participants access to a free app designed to offer the full range of our audio journalism and storytelling, as well as narrated articles, podcasts and audio content from a slate of premier publishers.

They are looking for beta users. You can fill out a form to see if they accept you. The form takes a while to fill out. They ask a lot about what podcasts you listen to, how often you listen to them. Then there is a free-form field that asks:

In a few sentences, tell us how podcasts, narrated articles and other forms of spoken-word content fit into your life these days. (Please be as specific and detailed as possible)

My response. It’s very random. I hop from thought to thought.

Working from home by myself, I play podcasts in the background all day long. I have many different playlists. Some are topic-based. Other playlists have my most favorite podcasts sorted by personal priority.

I also have annual folders for when I subscribe to new podcasts. When I feel the need to listen to something different, I use the current year’s list of podcasts. This also helps me organize the year I discovered a new podcast. I also keep a spreadsheet of all the podcasts I have subscribed to, along with the date I subscribed, the reason why I subscribed, and how I discovered the podcast. If unsubscribe from the podcast, I will also mark the date, and the reason why I unsubscribed.

In addition to listening to podcasts in the background of my work, I also listen to podcasts intentionally. Taking notes in a text document, sometimes marking the time of when a particular quote is said. In particular, Soundcloud is a great platform to interact with a podcast by the ability to leave comments at specific timestamps in the episode.

I listen for a multiple of reasons: to learn, to think, to be entertained, to feel like I’m part of culture, to change my worldview.

When I hear a great podcast, I will save the original mp3 file on my hard drive, just in case the episode is no longer available. When I hear something that might be of interest to a particular group of friends, I will share a direct link to that episode with a summary of why this episode would be of interest.

In the realm of podcast discovery a unique technique that I use is by keyword notification through the website. I subscribe to a variety of custom RSS podcast feeds that are based on a keyword. This will bring up a regular stream of new podcasts—all by the specific keyword. It also helps to do a keyword based on a person’s name—in particular an author of a book I appreciate—so I can hear all the new interviews that this person.

Of course my response was too long.

When I clicked submit, I got an error stating that this field as a limit of 1,024 characters. I had typed 1,947 characters.

I could have gone on about how I used to listen to podcasts. At the gym. On my commute. During walks. I used to have a 90-minute commute each way, thus I would listen to A LOT of podcasts. My mobile podcast app was of extreme importance for letting me build playlists, and the ability to sync with my laptop.

Anyhow, that was before the pandemic. They were specific about “these days”. So I wrote about how I listen these days. I could have also included how I like to listen to music at the same time as podcasts. Or how I like to play podcasts, but not really listen to them. Or how I want there to be five-minute clips from long podcasts. Ah, but I didn’t.

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