Browsing through NPR’s Podcast Directory, one in particular stood out; not for its content but for the way it was created.
Most of the podcasts are simply NPR shows, but NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories is assembled based on the audience’s reaction to NPR news stories. People tend to share stories they like, so in theory the best stories bubble up to the top. This podcast collects the stories from NPR’s Most Emailed Stories that were aired in the past 24 hours.
A popular story list is hardly unique to NPR; Yahoo!, the New York Times, etc. all have these lists. The podcast is different.
There is no way NPR could do this without podcasting. The length of the show can vary wildly—the description on NPR’s site says “approx 30 minutes” but Friday’s show was 50 minutes long due to the popularity of a half hour interview with the author of The Republican War on Science. Podcasting has the power to free shows from the tyranny of the half hour slot.
Also interesting is where the premise of “most emailed” equalling “best” fails. The lead story from Friday’s podcast (containing Thursday’s shows) was a Day to Day story on an Ansel Adams photo. This story was likely the most emailed because of people wanting to share the breathtaking picture that accompanies it on the website. I doubt the audio would have made been considered the most important of the day had a human editor been choosing.
NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories shows how the media can use podcasting and the web to provide unique access to their content. It succeeds both as an experiment and as a practical resource for news and information.
(Oh, and if you want to know what other podcasts I listen to, I’ll try to keep my Odeo profile up to date with them)