The Ways of Podcasting

Why the h3ll do we like listening to ordinary people rambling about stuff? Isn't that what the local radio is for? What make podcasting so interesting, why is it so damn popular, and when are we actually supposed to listen to it? I don't do podcasts, and never had, but I have listened to plenty of them and was thinking of viewing all the different kind of ways a podcast can be done.

I started listening to podcasts not that long ago, I think it's just been a few years now. One of the members in my WoW guild was a official "announcer" of WoW Radio - meaning he was responsible to announce when new podcast became live in chat channels, in a very professional manner. Spamming a macro with yelling is not good publicity. And of course he would harass his own guild even more, so I gave it a go.

First show I started listening to was Blue Plz, where a British guy named TotalBiscuit would ramble about everything in WoW, in a serious and lively manner. I got pretty much hooked right from the start, and began listening to the other shows that was at WoW Radio.

Listening to a podcast are pretty much the same as listening to your local radio station, except people discuss things that you find interesting, and it's done by amateurs. Quality can range from pure crap to "holy shit, why don't these people have their own TV show?", and it become more common every day thanks to the ease in which it can be made and distributed.

When to listen to them?
Listening to a podcast while doing something simple that require zero brain activity (*cough* grinding *cough*) is very soothing, and can easily make hours fly by. I began he habit of listening to the latest of my favourite podcast and spend the following hours grinding away with a character in WoW. Even if I considered to be finished with the grinding session, I kept going just to have something to do while listening to it. Music in all it's glory, listening to someone speaking about things you are interested in make you direct your focus and leave just enough left to do something you have done hundred of times. Sent in the pet, shoot, loot, run to next mob, repeat. I would love to see a study of the brain activity during a grinding session in WoW. Would probably teach scientist a thing or two.

So what times do I listen to podcasts? Load them into your mp3 player and...
  • When grinding, or playing any game that don't require me to use the brain
  • When doing the laundry or cleaning
  • When walking from point X to Y or go shopping
  • When working at the gym
  • When taking the bus/train
I have a friend who like listening to podcasts when he's in a bed going to sleep. I tried it but it felt wrong on so many levels. Bedtime are for books! It's not like you do something anyway, open the book instead!

Also, one big warning for when not to do it. Don't do it on the way to a party! You will just lose your expensive mp3 player and have to go back to reading books on trains! /grumble

One vs Many Hosts
Blue Plz was a single host show, so the argument was pretty one-sided, most arguments will be with people who send you emails. While listening to someone bringing forth good arguments and discussing serious matters, in the end what we want is fun, and for something to be fun you need to have more than one host. They can argue against you, bring up their own topics and views, or you can just make fun of each other.

So I stumbled upon Octale and Hordak vs The World, also them on WoW Radio, and was instantly amazed by how much more fun a podcast become as you add another person to the mix. Octale and Hordak have a fantastic chemistry and they are truly awesome hosts. To this day, I see Octale and Hordac as the best damn podcasters so far. They can take the smallest of topics and rant about it for hours, and entertain each other and the listeners while doing it, their mailbox is a never-ending ammo pouch of topics. In fact, they did a 12 hour podcast-marathon live called Rantathon 2008, and the fact that they ranted during the entire time show how good they are at... er, ranting. And that brings us to another aspect...

Organized vs Improvised
I guess this depends on what the listener is looking for. For serious analysis the organized type is the way to go. And if the listener just want to to be entertained and not strain the brain cells unnecessary, improvised is the thing for you. Of course there can be different levels of keeping things organized; you can have a big document with all the points already decided, and hosts are not allowed to wander too far off, or it could be that you just have a few points written on a paper and the hosts are free to wander a bit from the subject.

The WoW Insider Show (also that on WoW Radio) are extremely organized, and consist of three or four people discussing pre-determined topics, but they are held closely in check by the host leader (Mike Schramm), so jokes or off topic ramblings are kept to a minimum. This make it quite dull, as Turpster - one of the hosts - are very funny but seldom get to use that ability. Or when he does, I can almost see Mike Schramm's silent fuming.

Octale and Hordak are improvising all the time, taking topics at random from their mailbox and exploring them, and can wander far away from even those subjects. They have no rules, and talk about whatever falls into their heads and they find fun.

Both kind of shows can be entertaining, however the show become more alive if it is improvised, too organized can become very quite dull sometimes, even if it's interesting stuff. Just like holding a presentation become more interesting if you read from memory and not straight off a paper.

Live vs Edited
When I fist became interested in podcasts, I listened to most on WoW Radio live. Only if I missed a show did I download it from the archive, and many had strange times for me. Timezones can be such a nuisance. And thats a thing against live right there, people who listen to your podcast can live all over the world, and whatever time you set there will always be some who it doesn't suit.

Listening live to a show can be quite different from a recorded and edited one, and most of the times the edited one is always better. Technical difficulties always appear, and getting a few people together talking for some hours is not as easy as it sounds.

WoW Radio has a strong community, and that community is most visible during live shows when people join the IRC chat channel and discuss the show they are listening to. The hosts that are live are also in the chat and can comment on things they read there while on the air. Listener interaction is important to a podcast, and that doesn't have to be limited to emails. People like to hear their names mentioned on the air, it make them feel important, don't ask me why.

Podcasts? What podcasts?
And to round it up, I might as well post a list of podcasts I'm listening to right now.
Octale and Hordak vs The World
Octale and Hordak make the world unsafe. About anything and everything.
WoW Insider Show
Bloggers from WoW Insider join together with WoW Radio discussing everything about WoW.
TBs Show about Video-games
TotalBiscuit ramble about video-games in general.
Newly started about Warhammer by Keen and Graev, The Greenskin and Waaagh!
Dungeons & Dragons Podcast
About D&D with insight, interviews and lately Penny Arcade & PvP's adventure in 4th edition.

Time is precious, but if you know a good podcast then poke me about it, I love to listen to new stuff!


  1. For such an avid fan of podcasts, it's nice to hear you enjoy our show! :) I like the IRC concept and once Warhammer Online releases and our audience grows, it might be fun to try out a live-cast.

    Currently, we're pretty organized and structured, however, we do like to rant and go off on tangents from time to time. The Google Doc just gives us a guide to work from and helps us stay somewhat on time.

  2. I'm looking forward to see what you do with the show

  3. Glad to hear you're enjoying our productions, and it scares the hell out of me that the first podcast you heard was Blue Plz. You must be scarred for life ;)

    TB - WoW Radio.

  4. In a way, I probably am. I guess angry badgers are not the easy way in ;)