Curiosity-Driven Podcast Consumption

I’ve been listening to podcasts since the beginning of the medium. Before I had an iPod, I would burn episodes to a CD to listen to in my car. Since there were very few podcasts in the beginning, you’d subscribe to a creator and listen to new episodes as they came out. That’s how the majority of people still consume podcasts today.

This is how a lot of platforms generally have worked – subscribe to a creator and consume their content as it’s released. Things are changing though to more algorithmically generated content. TikTok focuses more on showing you videos you may be interested in, instead of primarily creators you follow. More and more platforms are trending this way.

I think a good implementation of blending both algorithmic content and following specific creators YouTube. They suggest all sorts of videos for you. You can also subscribe to channels. And there’s a search bar prominently placed at the top of the screen, allowing you to take your own path.

I’ve been trying to follow my own curiosity more the past year. This means when something interests me, to chase it. Dig deeper. And be fine when my interest drifts to something else. As a result I’ve been avoiding platforms that push content at me instead of me seeking it out. I want to be more active rather than passive.

Have you ever felt beholden to a podcast? Like you’ve been listening so long, and maybe you don’t enjoy it anymore? Or you find yourself listening to it on 2x speed to just get through? Last year I stopped listening to any podcast regularly. I gave myself permission to miss episodes. I dip in and out. There’s nothing I listen to every episode of anymore.

Instead what I’ve been doing is searching for podcast episodes. The player I use, PocketCasts, added episode search functionality in May 2023. There’s also ListenNotes on the web. Now when I want to listen to a podcast, I search a topic and go from there. I’ve been interested in generative music lately, so I’ve been listening to episodes about that. Sometimes I’ll search for an author I like, or a comedian, and see the podcasts they’ve guested on. It’s really revitalized my love for the medium, and is more in line with my personal ethos of following my curiosity instead of having it fed to me.