A calculation of some podcasts

One of the things I like to do (when my ears are free) is listen to podcasts. I don’t think I’m unusual in that, with few exceptions, I use podcasts for time shifting conventional radio shows. That is to say, iTunes, and likewise my iPod, is more like a TiVo for radio at this point. Sure I listen to music, but I like to stay informed. It also allows me to listen to shows I otherwise would not have, due to them not playing on a local radio station. In particular, I’m really glad that NPR has jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, because now I get to listen to them a lot more.

For the last year I have been behind. Really behind. As in, a backlog of over 24 hours. Just a week ago I had roughly 30 hours of podcasts (In a concerted effort, this is now down to 16 hours, thank God.) This wouldn’t be too bad, but of course shows update all the time, adding to this. Plus, I like to listen to my podcasts in the order they were downloaded, so just last week I was listening to podcasts a month and a half old.1 2 3 Clearly, just to keep up with them I need to average a certain amount daily. So what is that amount?

First off, here are the more regular podcasts I listen to, along with an estimation of their average weekly “output”, as measured by seeing what the iTunes Store tells me4, and some random number generator.

So in total, I am downloading roughly 690 (well, 691) minutes every week, or 11½ hours. That translates to about 100 minutes a day, or 1 hour and 40 minutes.

I think it’s safe to say this is a bit, but I do prune a little based on what is interesting. But is this more than other people? I really don’t know.


  1. There was a bit of deleting of some of the podcasts on the way, and I did make sure to listen to some of the more time-limited podcasts.  

  2. Incidentally, I have found the following technique helpful to listen to my podcasts in downloaded order:

    1. Create a smart playlist called “Podcasts, All” (or whatever you would like.
    2. In the new playlist to have the following criteria: “Podcast” “is true”, and “Genre” “is” “podcast”. Make sure it does live updating, and set it to match any. This solves some problems I was having in getting our real playlist of concern to see all the podcasts (some do not have the genre set, others are for whatever reason not listed as podcasts.
    3. Create another smart playlist. I call mine “Fresh Radio”.
    4. Set this playlist to have the criteria: (Playlist) (is) (Podcasts, All) and (Play Count) (is) (0). Set it to match all the criteria, and have live updating.
    5. While looking at the results of this playlist, go to View→View Options…, and make sure “Date Added” is checked.
    6. You finish by clicking on the “Date Added” column header, making sure the triangle points up.

    Unfortunately, neither iTunes nor any other similar interface from Apple (that I know of) allows for a mixing and matching of “any” and “all” criteria, which would make this be a little smoother. 

  3. I totally took this footnote technique from Jonathan Gruber. I hope he doesn’t mind.  

  4. There are a few podcasts I am not listing, because they have not updated in a long time and I am not sure they ever will; “Strongbad Emails” and “Ebert & Roper” come to mind.  

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