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I have to admit, I’m not crazy about most podcasts I’ve come across. Part of this is due to the often low-quality production and questionable educational or entertainment value of so many offerings. But an even bigger issue for me is where and when to listen to podcasts. While I can easily listen to music and work at my computer at the same time, it’s difficult for me to concentrate when four people are arguing though my speakers about whose World of Warcraft character is stronger. When I’m out and about, my music helps create a “happy place,” far away form the chaos if the city around me; a job much better left to Antonin Dvorak than John C. Dvorak. And sadly, too few podcasts hold my attention long enough to justify dedicated listening time. But it occurred to me that there was still one thing left to try.

Last week I decided to load up several podcasts onto my iPod and take them out on a run. I’ve running with audiobooks in the past, but if my mind starts to wander and I miss an important paragraph or two, I can be lost for the rest of the run (trying to listen and rewind and run at the same time is not fun). It turns out that running is a great time to catch up on the week’s podcasts. They’re generally short enough that you can listen to an entire episode (or two, or three) in one session, and if your mind wanders a bit, no sweat; you probably haven’t missed anything that will affect your enjoyment of the rest of the program.

Now that I’ve found the right time and place to enjoy podcasts, I can actually start evaluating their merits and pass my favorites on to you. With that, I’m beginning the “Podophile Podcast of the Week” series. Each Monday, I’ll review a podcast that I find consistently interesting and entertaining, and especially well-suited to taking out on the running trail. I’ll start later today by naming my first “Podcast of the Week:” The Annotated Alchemist.

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