Educational and Offbeat Podcasts Popular

Posted on March 25, 2007

USA Today has an article about how people are using podcasts to learn more about some very specific topics like "Lectures on Byzantine emperors" and "Five-minute drills on grammar."

"The people are leading the charge into podcasting, and we don't take it for granted that all they want is American Idol," says Ron Bloom, CEO and co-founder of, a podcast network that offers links to 60,000 podcasts in 135 categories.

Podcasts with wide audiences are not so new; the president, the pope and even the Queen of England all have them. But an increasing slice of the podcast menu is more specialized and education-oriented.

One podcast tracking site lists nearly 1,300 podcasts in its education category out of a total of about 30,000 tracked; another lists more than 1,900 out of about 32,000. On iTunes, ground zero for the podcast universe, a dozen education-related podcasts regularly rank in the daily top 100 podcasts based on subscriptions.

"Almost any category you pick in podcasting is exploding," says Dave Hitt, a talk-show podcaster (Quick Hitts) who also helps run the Podcast Peer Awards, in which podcasters vote on the best in 16 categories. "Podcasting didn't exist 2½ years ago, so the number (of podcasts) has gone from zero to estimates of more than 50,000" in a short time.

Many of the podcasts are listened to by people who want to learn more about a specific subject. A long commute can be a great opportunity to learn something instead of just listening to the radio and being bombarded with commercials. Some of the podcasts mention in the article include Art History in Just a Minute, Grammar Girl, Podictionary and Speaking of History. The article also lists directories for finding podcasts. It missed a few good directories, such as AmigoFish and Odeo.