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Published on May 04, 2020 08:00 am:

Podcast Episode Management For Tomorrow

Today, podcast subscribers only have two options when it comes to consuming available episodes: start from the most recent episode and work backward, or start from the very first episode and work forward.

Neither of those is very attractive for a show with 3,700 episodes. At that scale, the limitations of podcasting’s inherited sort-by-date and distributed architecture become glaring. 

Even if podcast owners use a mix of web analytics, media hosting company downloads, and consumption data to make a rudimentary recommendation engine, those efforts are moot once someone becomes a subscriber. There the experience is controlled by the app developer, and we’re back to date-sorting.

It’s messy, even if you don’t have a thousand episodes. There are over 300 episodes of this show. Sorry, new subscriber. Your only in-app option is to work your way from the start or from the most recent and go backward. Neither of those seems attractive. 

Date-sorting works for some podcasts, sure. And the good news is that we’ll probably never see that go away. “By date” is useful enough on every show. But it’s not the most useful way to present listening choices.

If I went over to your house and I looked at the books on your bookshelf, I would not find your books organized by publication date, right?

I imagine a future where smart earbuds change the game. Thanks to the growing adoption of smart speakers, we’re becoming more accustomed to using voice assistants during our day. These voice assistants listen to us. Perhaps they can listen to the episodes we’re enjoying, stepping in when one has ended and making a recommendation of what we should listen to next?

While I can barely remember what my episodes were about last week, AI-powered tech should be able to store contextual information on a much larger scale. That’s the direction we think Google is taking with its integration with Google Search. And Google’s voice search continues to improve. So it doesn’t take a crystal ball or corporate espionage to see where that’s headed. 

Curmudgeons may disagree and privacy wonks will sound the klaxons, but a future where deciding on what episode to listen to next is truly a hands-off experience guided by a smart device is rather interesting. And a bit obvious.

Speaking of interesting futures, I’m visualizing you, right now, going to and, you know, buying me a coffee.

I’m also envisioning you making a phone call or sending an email to one podcaster you know and telling them about Podcast Pontifications. Word-of-mouth efforts are really what spreads an ultra-niche show like this, so thank you in advance.


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Podcast Pontifications is published by Evo Terra four times a week and is aimed at the working podcaster. The purpose of this show is to make podcasting better, not just easier.

Follow Evo on Twitter for more podcasting insights as they come.

And if you need a professional in your podcasting corner, please visit to see how Simpler Media Productions can help your firm. Podcasting is our only business!

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