Sorting through the podcast backlog

I’ve been an ardent podcast listener for a number of years now and while I have a few that I subscribe to, I have many more that I will dip in and out of depending on the subject. I’ll often download half a dozen podcasts on a particular person, thing, or subject when it comes across my radar. This means I have a pretty disparate catalogue to get through, because invariably my interest in certain things wane over time and those one-offs get lost in the backlog.

Last time I checked my phone I realised that I had this backlog had grown to almost 7GB. I’m not sure how many hours of podcasts this is, but suffice to say I’m unlikely to get through it all.


I’ve been aware of the growing backlog for a while but have put off doing anything about it because I feel like I should listen to the ones I’ve already downloaded. Whenever I’ve tried to delete them in the past, the fear of missing out on some vital piece of knowledge the podcast would impart has stayed my hand. It seems almost morally wrong to delete knowledge, almost akin to throwing a book into the rubbish, unread. But you reach a point where enough is enough, so I’ve decided to declare an amnesty. I’ve decided I can declutter my podcasts guilt free if I stick to a couple of key rules:

  1. If the host has an annoying voice, delete it. This may seem harsh but in all honesty I’m not going to learn anything if I can’t stand to listen to the person talking, or if they can’t go ten seconds without saying “um, like, er”. If you don’t listen to podcasts you may think that they are all professionally made and slickly recorded- you would be wrong.
  2. If I’ve got multiple podcasts on the same subject, delete all but one. I found the others the first time I looked, so chances are I’ll be able to find it again if I need to.
  3. If I’ve already listened to the episode before, delete it. I’ve often been guilty of re-listening to old episodes while new ones languish at the end of the list. While this can be a temporary distraction, in the long run I think I’ll be better off with the new stuff.


The thing to keep in mind with something like podcasts is that generally you can always download it again. Most podcasts are available on iTunes, Acast and a bunch of other services, as well as being hosted on the website of the podcast itself. If I was more bothered about keeping some for the future, I could bounce them to my external hard drive for safe keeping, and come back to them in the future. As it is, I’ll leave it up to fate that if I want them in the future I’ll hopefully be able to download them again. Here’s a few examples of the things I managed to get rid of:

  • Danny Wallace’s Important Broadcast – I’m a huge Danny Wallace fan but after dipping in to this new podcast, I was a little underwhelmed. Possibly just the timing of when I listened to it, I’ll leave one episode on there to give it another go.
  • TL;DR – I liked the idea of the short format, but I find the idea of ‘too long, didn’t read’ to be a bit ridiculous. It also seemed to cater too heavily to an American audience. Perhaps a better title would have been ‘bad idea, didn’t listen’.
  • Comedian’s Comedian – Definitely one of my favourite podcasts, I was guilty of keeping old episodes to listen to again when nothing else jumped out at me. A thorough clear-out of these and some new episodes of comedians I don’t know should inject a bit of life back into it.
  • 99% Invisible – This podcast has some fantastic episodes so I’m happy to download them at random, depending on what I feel like at the time. Unfortunately they can’t all be winners, so all the half-listened to episodes have been consigned to the bin.


With these rules in mind, I’ve managed to trim my list down considerably, leaving less than 4GB left. While this is still a lot, I’m more likely to be able to get through at least some of this, especially now I have reviewed it and refreshed my memory on what is actually in there. Not only is it a lot easier to look through what remains, but I know for the future what is and isn’t worth investing my time in.