Russell’s new 41256 “audio commonplace” podcast got me thinking about podcasts and how long they last.
Since I started working in London a lot (ie, since 2012 ish), I’ve done a lot more podcast listening than before. I subscribe to 58 different podcasts but I’m not a stickler for listening to every episode of every one. In fact I’m quite ruthless at deleting episodes if their text summaries don’t interest me.
(What I do like is having options to listen to lots of different things, depending on my mood, which is why I subscribe to so many.)
Anyway, I’ve noticed myself organising my listening based on the activity that I’m doing at the same time. If my activity is sitting-on-a-train, a podcast that’s 30 minutes or an hour long is completely fine.
But not all my activities are that short. Taking a shower, for example, is a 10-minute task. There aren’t many 10-minute podcasts.
My favourite shower-length podcast is 50 things that made the modern economy.
I love it. Tim Harford a fantastic broadcaster, telling engaging and educational stories about everyday things that have changed how we live.
And because it’s 10 minutes per episode, it’s ideal shower material. It’s an auditory timepiece. I know that as Tim winds towards his conclusions (and you can tell when he’s doing this, by what he’s saying and the tone he says it in), I need to be rinsing off the last of the soap suds and reaching for a towel. The length of the podcast is perfectly congruent to the length of a shower.
Other podcasts fit other jobs.
The New Statesman’s weekly podcast is well suited to my Monday morning walk to, and wait at, the station. It usually ends just as the train comes in.
BBC documentaries are well suited to cooking, or the washing up.
Assuming future episodes of 41256 are the same 4-5 minute length as episode 1, I’m thinking about what activity they’ll match up with. I’m sure I’ll find something.