A midsummer guide to enjoying podcasts

Pocket Casts and Castro both offer excellent options for listening to your favorite shows.

A midsummer guide to enjoying podcasts
[Photo: cottonbro/Pexels]

This article is republished with permission from “Wonder Tools,” a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.

If you’re expanding your podcast horizons this summer, you have more than a million shows to choose from. Today’s post features resources to help you cut through the audio clutter and enjoy great listens this summer.

Listen to podcasts for free

Castro. Yes, the default player on your phone is fine. But I find Castro’s design better fits the way I actually listen to podcasts.

  • Step 1. Start by searching for and subscribing to shows that interest you. Those flow into the app’s inbox tab.
  • Step 2. Scroll through episodes that show up in the inbox tab and tap some to populate your listening queue. It’s similar to the way Netflix and Spotify let you line up what to watch or listen to next.

Castro saves space on your device and reduces data consumption. Individual episodes aren’t automatically downloaded. The app only downloads specific episodes you tap. If you prefer, you can set it to automatically queue up every new episode of a show you like.

More on Castro: For a deeper dive, see my previous post.

Bonus feature: Share highlights from an episode you’re listening to as video clips to a social network or by email or message. Here’s a clip I posted to Twitter.


A great free alternative for Android and iOS

Pocket Casts is an excellent option for Android and iOS and works well with CarPlay and Android Auto for listening on summer drives, as well as with AirPlay and Chromecast for listening in your living room. It also syncs across multiple devices. Both Castro and Pocket Casts enable you to listen at faster speeds.

Plus: More good Android podcast apps.

Find a podcast that mentions a specific person or topic

Listen Notes Type in a name, organization, keyword, or phrase to quickly locate podcasts where that’s mentioned. It’s great for discovering podcasts covering people or topics of interest to you. Or finding interviews with an author you love.

Bonus features: You can also use Listen Notes to make and share playlists or to clip and share key moments from podcast episodes.

Tip: Filter by language to find shows from around the world, or by region, show length, or category.

Listen to one of these excellent interview shows

+1 for optimism: This ⁦New Yorker⁩ podcast episode offered a rare positive look at what DIDN’T go wrong last year.

+1 for masterful storytelling: Listen to this phenomenal episode of Against the Rules podcast by Michael Lewis (Season 3, episode 2). He weaves two dramatic stories together. Superb audio storytelling. Every episode of this show is terrific.

Here’s more of my take on podcasts and sounds for summer

Listening Tip: Try setting your listening speed to 1.5x. Give yourself a minute to adjust. If you’re like many podcast fans, you’ll end up enjoying more of the shows you love in less time, with no dip in comprehension.

Caveat: Avoid 1.5x for music podcasts or those where pacing and pauses are part of the editorial art.

Faster playback works particularly well for chatcasts, where two people are gabbing freeform. I prefer podcasts that are edited, where the signal-to-noise ratio tends to be higher.

Pick a show from my curated podcast list

If you’re overwhelmed by podcast choices, start with one that strikes your fancy from my list of good ones to try (designed using Glide).

Here’s a sortable view (made with Airtable). It includes shows that have stood the test of time for me. They’re all free.

The list excludes celebrity chats, political rants, and heavily promoted shows at the top of the podcast charts.

This article is republished with permission from “Wonder Tools,” a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.


About the author

Jeremy Caplan is the director of teaching and learning at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and the creator of the Wonder Tools newsletter.


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