I was bored with my podcasts. I subscribed to a dozen different feeds, but was only listening to two shows. Sometimes I'd leave the house with nothing interesting on my phone. I muddled along, thinking this was the best I could do. Then came Serial, and all of sudden podcasting was exciting again. I looked forward to every week's installment the same way I look forward to a weekly Game of Thrones or Mad Men.
What followed was an explosion of new podcasts, or so it seemed, but which were the good ones? I did what everyone does, I asked my friends. I saw my friends asking. I asked again. Sometimes I found something interesting to listen to, but usually not something I wanted to subscribe to. That got me thinking.
Subscribing may be the wrong way to look at it. When I want a podcast I don't want to subscribe. I want to listen. All the time between the want and the fulfillment seems like work. Why is this so hard.
Standing on the street in Manhattan, with my iPhone 6 and a good net connection, how long would it take me to find something to listen to.
In other words, how long after having the idea "I want a podcast" did it take to fulfill it. Standing out there in the cold. Feeling like an idiot, fussing with my phone.
How long? A lot longer than it should.
Then I read an article in Vox that listed 26 podcasts I should be listening to. There's the answer. Almost. If they had a page that followed all these podcasts, I could go there, click a play button and be listening in an instant. Someone with good judgement chose these shows, and I bet one or two of them are good in any week. But that place didn't exist.
I asked my friends on Facebook to recommend their favorite podcasts. I figured if we were friends, or friends-of-friends, some of our interests would overlap. But I did more than ask, I engaged. And I didn't ask for feeds, I was willing to do the research to go from the title of the podcast to the RSS feed.
I set up a river, customized it so there was a player for each item, and linked it up with Facebook comments, so the resulting conversations would feed back into my relationships.
As Apple says about their products, it has magic. It's simple, it's probably not what you expect, but it really works. When I go there, I find new ideas, feelings, perspectives, entertainment.
And now it's public. You can use it too!