I finally found a time and a place for podcasts


I’m hip. I’m with it.

Stop laughing.

No, seriously, I’m someone who digs social media (if it’s Twitter) and I can barely remember what it’s like to watch commercial broadcast television, except that it’s kind of like watching non-premium Hulu, on account of the ads.

But there’s one modern way of interacting with content that I just couldn’t figure out. Not technologically — that was simple enough. I just couldn’t find a time and place for it in my life.

I’m talking podcasts.

Even though there are plenty of things on, for instance, NPR that I would like to listen to at my convenience, I’ve had trouble figuring out when that would be.

  • Not in my car, because if I’m on a long-enough drive, I kind of need to be interacting with the people with me, or at least alert to them. I’m a family man; not the guy in “Vanishing Point.” I seldom take trips alone. Also, it’s really not safe to drive with earbuds on, and how many podcasts do I want to hear that are also interesting to my wife and my grandchildren? I did some solo driving during the campaign, but I was always talking on the phone or otherwise too busy to do any extended listening.
  • Not while working or reading. That works (sometimes) with music, but not with people talking. I can’t read words and listen to words and take both in. My wife can do it, but I can’t. It’s sort of a walking and chewing gum thing.
  • Not while working out on the elliptical at home. Sound isn’t enough to fully distract me from the tedium of exercise. So I watch stuff on the Roku.

I’ve particularly been frustrated in finding a good time to listen to The West Wing Weekly, but I’ve been intimidated by the logistics — I mean, don’t I really need to be watching the show while listening? And when do I have time for that?

Then yesterday, it hit me.

I’ve been listening to Pandora during my afternoon walks downtown. Lately, it’s been my Elvis Costello station (which also gives me the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Tom Petty, Weezer and other good stuff).

It only hit me yesterday that I could just as easily be listening to a podcast. I had been wanting to listen to The Argument, which features David Leonhardt, Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg talking about some issue of the day. So I did. And it was great, although since my route takes me through the USC campus some of the kids may have wondered what’s wrong with the old guy whenever I scowled at someone saying Joe Biden shouldn’t run.

I even had time left in my walk to listen to some Pandora when it was over.

Yeah, I know: Obvious. But I like when some problem that had been bugging me suddenly works its way out. Even when it’s as insignificant as this one.

Of course, I still haven’t figured out the West Wing Weekly problem…

10 thoughts on “I finally found a time and a place for podcasts

  1. Doug Ross

    I listen to podcasts while walking. I usually walk at least 50 minutes a day and double that when I am on the road. Lately I’ve been walking the three miles from the hotel to work in the morning and back in the evening.

    I only listen to Adam Carrolla, Bill Simmons, and a sports gambling podcast. That’s about all I can manage.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It just took me WAY too long to figure out walking was a good time.

      There’s a reason for that, though, in my defense. I only recently got back to having unlimited data, so I only recently started feeling free even to listen to music during walks.

      Like most Verizon customers, I had been fuming for years over having lost unlimited data — once it was a gimme, and then suddenly they wanted me to pay a premium for it. Which I could not afford — I considered what I was already paying ridiculously high.

      Then, during the campaign, I was out on the road in the bus one day and having multiple technical problems. The little portable hot spot that Mandy usually brought along wasn’t working (or maybe she wasn’t with us that day). So I really needed to use my phone as a hot spot for everything — my iPad and laptop, over which I was constantly transmitting and receiving photos and video, and pushing out social media and press releases. I called my wife — the person who pays the bills in our fam — to warn her that we were going to go over our data, so there would be a penalty. (I don’t know why I thought I had to tell her that right then. Yes, I do: I wanted to share with someone how stressed I was at that moment.)

      A few minutes, she called me back and said she had just changed our plan and that we had unlimited data.

      This made me a very happy communications director.

      But days later, I was even happier. I had thought that she had just bitten the bullet and paid for unlimited for the month, and that after the campaign we’d go back to our old plan.

      But here’s what had happened — in talking to Verizon, she discovered that we were eligible for a senior discount. And here’s the good part: With that discount, we could have unlimited data, permanently, for less money than we’d been paying for a lousy 3 GB of data.

      So I was VERY happy. But also a little ticked that Verizon had not told me this long before that. It would have saved me a lot of aggravation, and some money, too…

      At this point I’d make some overbroad observation about what a pain it is dealing with the private sector, but I don’t want to seem to be needling Doug…

      By the way, Doug: How many steps a day are you averaging now?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Personally, I’ve just been barely making my minimum of averaging at least 10,000 a day. I had been doing a lot better than that (like 15k and more) before the campaign, but just haven’t worked my way back up yet. But at least I’m doing the 10k or a little more.

        I was disappointed I didn’t do better in Ireland. That’s due in part to all the time spent on the bus. We walked a lot in Dublin, and a good bit in Waterford, Killarny, and Limerick as well. But it didn’t set any records. We only had one day when I went over 20,000.

        This was my first trip abroad since I started counting steps. I had estimated, looking back on trips to Thailand and England, that I was probably doing 30,000 or so. But maybe I wasn’t…

      2. Doug Ross

        I use the Podcast Addict app and download multiple podcasts when I am connected to wireless so I don’t have to worry about data usage.

      3. Dave Crockett

        Interesting. I just contacted Verizon since my wife and I are both 65 and they told me they don’t offer senior discounts. Is the discount, perhaps, only if you go to the unlimited plan? We’re on the “lousy 3 GB plan” right now for the same reason you were for so long…

  2. bud

    On days I walk the entire length of the Columbia Riverfront Park, about 5 miles round trip, I generally end up with a tad over 15k for the day. Lake Murray dam walk, about 3.75 miles round trip, gets me to 13k or so. I generally do one or the other or take a shorter run. (More like a slow jog). My all time record was 28k at Disney World. I generally do my workouts in silence. However, a bit of talk or music might not be a bad change of pace.

  3. Bill

    People can be so awful,especially when they talk.It’s annoying or at best,puts me to sleep.It has to be mostly music for exercise or I go nuts.I can’t sleep w/music on or I’m up all night playing, ‘name that tune’.Can’t watch TV or movies for more than 15 minutes w/o getting annoyed/distracted/mad unless it’s baseball…
    Music is best,preferably w/decent headphones(Sennheiser HD 660 ) and a designated CD player or personalized net player(bandcamp,soundcloud,mixcloud)

  4. Barry

    I listen to Clark Howard’s podcast. He’s nationally syndicated but obviously cuts out all the commercials for his podcast. I have 30-40 at a time on my iPhone.

    My favorite interviewer was OnPoint’s Tom Ashbrook (WBUR) but after he was let go, he now has his “Conversations” on his website. He soon will be launching his own podcast. Tom is the best in the business with interviews.

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