Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Succumbing to the Apple...

No, not that "forbidden fruit" of ancient myths. I'm talking about the computer company. A few weeks ago, my sister loaned me her new iPod (Red) Nano and I've been having a blast playing with it ever since.

Yet what I'm enjoying even more than all of the music I can carry with me are the multitude of podcasts which I can choose from for my listening pleasures.

One of my favorites programs right now is Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing:

Some of the tips are pretty basic, but others are really fun and interesting, and best of all, she frequently goes into the historical developments of various forms of grammar and words. Having just about caught up with all of her podcasts, I'm about to start on one of the other Quick & Dirty programs, either Money Girl, Legal Lad, or Mr. Manners.

In addition to Grammar Girl, I've also been enjoying (and can recommend) Speaking of Faith from American Public Media and My Daily Phrase German from the Radio Lingua Network (the network also has Coffee Break Spanish and French, among other things, though I must say, the German lessons are very basic, even if well done).

Given all of the fun I've been having though, I was quite surprised to find that well over half the people I've talked to recently who own iPods have never even given podcasts a chance. Naturally, I had to check the statistics on this phenomenon, and while I couldn't find more recent numbers, at least back in 2005, despite as many as 22 million Americans had an iPod or other MP3 player, only some 6 million Americans had tried downloading and listening to podcasts -- less than 30%! (the percentage was higher for those under 29 yrs old -- "nearly half" -- versus those 29 or older -- "only 20 percent".)

Perhaps I shouldn't be shocked by such low numbers -- after all, I'm also well aware that there are many crappy podcasts out there (believe me, I've listened to some of them). Plus, perhaps numbers have gone up significantly since then? Additionally, for all I know, I may be bored of podcasts myself in a week or so, right?

All I can say to those questions is that personally, I have managed to find several really entertaining and educational podcasts. On top of that, I've met a number of people who haven't tried any out at all. And honestly, that's all I'm really asking in this post. How can someone own such a cool (relatively) new technological gadget like the iPod, yet never even try out the related podcasts‽ (By the way, that rarely used question/punctuation symbol is known as the interrobang.)

In hopes of helping to give podcasts a chance then (at least by me, but perhaps by you too), I'd love to hear what anyone reading this post listens to and recommends.

Also, since I'll soon be returning the Nano to my sister, yet also find myself hooked on the little toy, which should I go with if I were to buy one for myself? The iPod Classic or the Nano?


The Village Idiot said...

I got a macbook at the start of the schoolyear and I'm loving it. Not only has it not crashed once yet, I haven't even begun to put it through its paces! And it looks cool.

I also have an ipod, and though I don't like podcasts, (I don't go for books on tape or talkradio either) its a pretty nifty little thing, if carrying entertainment around is a priority. If i were to get a new one, I would go for the classic (though the new nano is cool) becuase it holds more, the screen is bigger and you can watch stuff, and becuase compared to a CD player, its still really small. The four GB nano barely holds my entire library.

Happy Shopping!

steven said...

i should have been reading this about 2 years ago. way to keep up with the times!

Brad said...

personally I recommend the iPod classic, since my 2,500 song library needs at least 10 gigs. The classic gives you all the space you should ever need.

On podcasts, I don't live and die by them, and I'd usually rather listen to music, but my preferred 'casts are: KCRW Film Reviews, 93X Stupid News, Rockin' the City Video Podcast, and the 107 Report.

Anonymous said...

very witty title.

i have enjoyed "this i believe" by NPR (though it's hit-or-miss). i've listened to a few "french for beginners" and i thoroughly enjoy "notes in spanish," but that last is, you guessed it, in spanish, so...

most of what i've heard is a bit lame, though. At the same time, it doesn't make any sense to write off podcasts as such just because some of them suck.

i might try that german podcast, as today my professor told me that he really thought i'd enjoy grad school in germany.


Chris said...


Thanks for the thoughts. I'm honestly debating purchasing a Mac laptop of some sort as well. Is the size of the Macbook big enough for you?

As for podcasts (and audio books and talk radio) what is it about them that you don't like? Just curious.


I know. I know.

Honestly though, I'm in no way ashamed to have never owned an iPod.


Thanks for the input. Film reviews and Stupid News sound especially interesting.

By the way, I don't live and die by podcasts myself either. The Grammar Girl episodes are only a few minutes long and I've been listening to them occasionally (but not always) while I'm driving, shopping, at work, or waiting in line somewhere. During these intervals, I also enjoy the news, music, audio books, silence, and yes, even conversations with other people. Thankfully, the iPod hasn't entirely cut me off from the society around me.

And VI and Brad, I'm definitely leaning toward the classic, for the same reasons you've each given.

Chris said...


I must have missed your post. I listen to "This I believe" on the radio from time to time, and I agree, it's definitely "hit-or-miss."

I'd also like to freshen up on my Spanish and learn French somewhere down the road, but unfortunately that won't be happening anytime soon I suspect.

Thanks for the recommendations.

steven said...

hold off on macbooks for a bit, they are going to aluminum, and cheaper