Why Tech Podcasts Bother Me

Right now, the most requested feature of this site (from both members, and non-members) is for a podcast. I started preparing one; creating live streaming, live chat, its own site, found a person to partner with, etc. All I needed was a little design, some sponsors, and to start recording. Except that was months ago […]

Right now, the most requested feature of this site (from both members, and non-members) is for a podcast. I started preparing one; creating live streaming, live chat, its own site, found a person to partner with, etc. All I needed was a little design, some sponsors, and to start recording.

Except that was months ago and I have very little motivation to do a podcast. My reasoning — excuse — is that I don’t have time. That, though, is mostly a lie. I have plenty of time to do a weekly podcast if I want.

No, the real reason that I am not podcasting is because I’ve come to loathe the medium.

Every time I think “OK, time to do that podcast", I start listening to some podcasts, and then I quickly fall 20, 30, 40 episodes behind, because really podcasts are largely a pile of shit and they bore the crap out of me.1

I’ve been thinking about why I feel this way and I think it’s largely focused around the goal of most (but not all) podcasters. Whether explicitly stated, or implied, most tech podcasters seek to create "a podcast that allows you to listen in on two good friends chatting about topics you’re interested in". That sounds great on the surface but in reality I don’t want to listen in on two people I barely know talking about things.

The reason I don’t want to listen in is because two friends talking are never on point. Subjects jump, there are insider jokes/back stories that I don’t get — but most of all I’d rather be a part of that conversation than a party eavesdropping on that conversation.

If you’ve never listened to the This American Life podcast, then I apologize because the rest of this post will make little sense. TAL is the best podcast out there — the scripting, pacing, research, and editing is top notch. The show feels casual, but has enough format, flow, and scripting that it becomes comfortable to listen to, instead of wanting to join in on. I think this is what most people desire to create, but don’t understand why having a casual chat doesn’t create this.2

The goal of a podcast should not be that the podcasters enjoy the show, but that the listeners enjoy the show. I think that’s lost on most podcast hosts.

Who is talking should be less important than what’s being said — just like writing a blog — and yet that’s not the case.

The who has become more important than the content.

Most popular tech podcasts are between 60-120 minutes each, recorded weekly — which is just absurd if you think about how little content is actually being shared. If these podcasters took time to plan out their shows with their podcasting partners, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shows were on average 30-60 minutes — or half their current length.3 If any one of these hosts sat down and wrote about the topics they wanted to cover on the podcast, their blog posts would be about 500 words (or less) for each topic. But yeah, go ahead and ramble on for two hours.

So here’s my proposal for making podcasts better: if you want me to spend 1-2 hours a week listening to your show, then you better spend at least that much time preparing for each show. Reading your RSS/Twitter feeds doesn’t count as preparation.4

And, to bring this back around to a podcast here, there’s no way I am doing that amount of preparation for a medium that is positively futile trying to turn a profit in — so I won’t waste your time.5


  1. I sometimes feel like they are only recorded so hosts can complement each other while they jerk-off. 

  2. I am among those people. 

  3. But then where would you fit all six sponsors? OUTRAGE! 

  4. You don’t actually have to do this, of course, because I don’t listen to a single podcast anymore. 

  5. Or mine, for that matter.