Long Talk

I’ve ranted against long podcasts in the past. My general opinion is that podcasts that go on for 2 1/2 hours are just disrespectful to their listeners, because they generally are that long out of a simple lack of focus and editing. It really means “Your time isn’t that important, and my rambling is really fascinating. Here, let me hug myself”.

However, there are some really great exceptions to this rule, and I want to point them out, because I think it’s important to differentiate between podcasts that are long just because some people love their own voices, and those that are long because they are thoroughly and enjoyably detailing a topic and making fair use of the time.

The first exception is any long episode of any of the wonderful podcasts from The Incomparable. Generally episodes of these podcasts aren’t that long, but they do go over an hour regularly and approach a couple hours on occasion. They’re worth it. Entertaining, informative, hilarious… I could wax on with superlatives all day and never feel like I’m exaggerating.

The second exception in my mind is Pragmatic, a great technical podcast that is going to be ending soon. The good news is that the topics are relevant any time. Go back and listen a year from now, and the information will be just as interesting and relevant as it is today, something that most of the really long tech podcasts that should learn to watch the time could never be accused of.

John Chidgey’s engineering acumen guides Pragmatic through each episode, and he keeps it focused and packed full of information. It’s great for learning things. It’s also fun to listen to. I’ve enjoyed the podcast from the beginning, but especially in its current incarnation with Vic Hudson as guest host.

This week’s episode, Send it into the void, baby, clocks in at two hours and fifty one minutes. For those of you who need your time in digits, that’s 2:51:10, to be precise. However, considering that the episode topic is how the Internet works, that’s kind of a bargain, honestly.

You might think an episode like that would smash right through my rage barrier and put me into a thermonuclear rant, but not so, dear reader. This is a shining example of a long podcast done correctly. That is to say, it’s not a ramble where the only thing that’s supposed to be of value to us is the podcaster’s cult of personality. It’s interesting and it stays focused and on topic the entire time. You’ll learn something! You won’t hear about wandering theories of things that every other tech podcast is covering. Pragmatic brings the tech, and it brings it knowledgeably.

If you like long podcasts, do yourself a favor and subscribe to these two. They won’t waste your time or expect you to stay tuned in just to hear their lovely voices. Even if you don’t like long podcasts, try them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that it is possible to make long podcast episodes engaging and worthwhile with a bit of effort on the part of the hosts.