How to keep up with a HUGE number of podcasts…

Once I started seriously listening to podcasts, I quickly reached the point where there are more podcasts, (entire shows, not just episodes,) than I can possibly keep up with. I’m left with the choice between staying subscribed to podcasts where I want to listen to only some of the episodes, or unsubscribing and knowing that I’m missing some gems.

…and then I remember this is all just RSS.

In my podcast player, (which is Overcast,) I now keep only the shows that are my dedicated favorites; shows that I generally listen to every episode. I moved all the other podcasts into my RSS reader, (which is Reeder.) I even added a bunch of shows which I had completely given up hope of being able to even follow them looking for gems.

This had two huge benefits:

First, it improved my podcast listening experience: Not keeping all of those podcast shows subscribed in my podcast player means there’s now much less distraction. When I’m in the mood, (or the time, or the place,) to listen to podcasts, I tend to continue listening by default. I’m more likely to listen “just a bit farther” to see if this episode is going to be good, whereas if I had read the summary I might have skipped it altogether. So my podcast listening experience winds up having far more great episodes because it’s just the shows I love, or episodes I explicitly decided to listen to.

Second, it actually leads to me finding more gems: When I open my RSS reader, (as I do every day,) I’m in “skimming mode.” I’m looking for things to queue for later reading. (Pocket and Instapaper for the win.) There’s very little effort for me to skim the episode descriptions, and when I find one that looks good I add it to my podcast player. This does require me to switch apps, search, and then add a specific episode. But this small effort helps ensure that the episode is likely to be one I would really like to listen to.

There’s one detail that is a slight snag: How do you find a podcast’s feed URL? We’re all so used to searching in our podcast player apps, but you need the actual podcast feed URL to add it to your RSS reader. You’ll discover that none of the podcast player apps, and none of the directories, (Stitcher, Google, Apple, etc.,) make it easy to find the shows’ underlying podcast URL. The easiest way to do it is to use the handy search on James Cridland’s, Podnews.net (no relation/benefit to me.) It pulls the show’s information from the directories, and explains all the details about that show’s configuration including a handy RSS link icon that has the URL.

So, unpacking this idea a bit more, with some visuals we have…

Feedbin

If you don’t already have a favorite RSS reader, the easiest way to start is to use a web site which will corral all your RSS subscriptions. It will show you a nice web front end with all your feeds together. Later, if you want to run a dedicated RSS reading application on your phone or computer, any of the good ones will let you say, “I have my subscriptions in Feedbin,” and boop! you have all your feeds: Feedbin.

RSS in action

Here’s an example of what it looks like when I encounter an updated podcast feed in my RSS reading application. This is a desktop app that is connected to my Feedbin account — but you can do the same thing just using Feedbin’s web site directly. The list on the left is all podcast shows (and just down to the "H"s)

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 15.11.05

Normally, these “items” are mixed into my normal stream of RSS items. But that screenshot, I narrowed it to my “Podcasts” folder.

Selecting one (below) gives me some semblence of the episode’s notes. It’s often a mangled mess. And you’re in shock because who would ever look at those episode notes that we work so hard on. ;) but here it is.

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 15.13.28

I’m not on the web there—still simply looking at the data in the RSS feed.

At this point, I could even get an in-app web browser view of the item from his web site by going further (another swipe in this app that I’m using) and following through to the episode’s URL.

If this were an episode I wanted to listen to—in my “I’m listening to podcasts” mode, as I described above—then I’d flip over to my podcast app and search for this episode and add it to my listening queue.

In reality, it’s even easier: My podcast player app remembers the shows I’ve listened to before, so I can just touch the show, scroll to the episode and hit ‘download’ for later listening.

You can keep an eye on a LOT of podcasts this way—looking at their descriptions—without piling up more in your podcast player than you can possibly listen to.

ɕ

4 Likes

Thank you for this post.

I often use the upload to listen feature of overcast since I can easily just dump a mp3 file or link there and it’s player will remember where I am for all uploads. (Since I rarely listen for more than a short while at a time I want it to know where I left of)

I will checkout feedbin, I miss the good old days where there was a lot of great RSS readers on PC. Now all those I used are gone.

Too bad reeder is only on mac. If any of you have any tips for Windowx I would love to know. Will gladly pay a subscription to save time.

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@craig
i am thinking this is all great advice and I wish I could follow it, but I’m lost

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A very slow reply, sorry. Feedbin.com has a web site that provides a full functionality RSS reading experience.

I assure you the problem is me, not you. :slight_smile: If I could figure out how to explain it better… I would. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯