“6.20 GB used in internal storage.” My podcast app was bloated. My phone said it was using up more than 6 gigabytes of storage space. My once mid-tier Android device was shuddering under the load that I was putting on it. I was compelled to act. 6.2 GB was simply too much space. I had become a podcast hoarder. I needed freedom from all this digital clutter. I needed to delete some podcasts – so I devised a Three-Point Plan.
Step One: Bring Out the Dead
I subscribe to 168 podcasts. Some I listen to religiously. Others, I listen to as often as I go to church (which is, ironically, something far short of ‘religiously.’) Some produce constantly and some seasonally. PocketCasts arranges my shows by tiles, the latest releases near the top. I scroll down and down and down. The dead and dying lie near the bottom – heaped upon one another like detritus in the bottom of a well. These are the sticks and decaying leaves on the floor of my podcatcher. For some I hold out hope of return. PA and Florio only runs during the football season. They should be back in the fall, I think. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is there amongst the bottom-dwellers – but he can go months between dropping one of his massive episodes. Serial is there – but surely a third season will be coming at some point, right? Those I keep.
I know that some will never come back, though. The Run-Up was, after all, replaced by The Daily. Same with Keepin it 1600 — replaced by Pod Save America. They exist only as nostalgia from a weird political season that will never return. Others will probably never come back but they were of such outstanding quality that the chance of their return is worth keeping them around. In the Dark, for instance, was an outstanding exploration of small town policing by American Public Media. That might return someday, I tell myself hopefully. Others are gone forever, though – just artifacts now. One of them, The Atavist Magazine Podcast, is something that I cannot even remember ever listening to. They appear to have ceased episodes in October 2015. I have drawn a line in the sand, I think to myself. I can tarry no further. I delete a total of 23 shows through this process, trimming the list to 145.
Step Two: Trim the Fat
I am not an automaton. I have feelings. Like Shylock, if you cut me, I will bleed. Maybe a better and stronger man would listen to episodes as they come in, freely accepting the offered content no matter the strangeness of the day. If that’s a thing, I guess that I’m just less than that. Apparently, I’m so snowflake that sometimes I can’t take listening to a podcast — even one that I love. I tell myself that it’s about being in the right mood.
Listen, Nate DiMeo, I love you. I love your podcast. I mean it. I love The Memory Palace. The quality of the writing; the use of music; the quirky and strange content that invades that me every time — it’s like a rich dessert. It is a rare and special treat – Baked Alaska or something else completely over the top. Just like dessert, though, maybe a little much for everyday consumption. So, somehow, I have accumulated his entire ‘Met Residency’ series of shows. I cannot consume but I also cannot keep.
- The Charged Life. Fourteen Episodes. What kind of madman lets a motivational podcast pile up like that? Apparently, one who lacks motivation.
- The Ezra Klein Show. Six episodes. Klein’s one-on-one interviews are always satisfying. They clock in at over an hour, though, and close listening is required.
- Invisibilia. I haven’t touched the new season yet and was hoping to binge. Four episodes there.
- Audio Dharma. Eight episodes. I’ve taken this multi-episode meditation course before but wanted to run through again.
- The Grift. Seven Episodes. I used to enjoy host Maria Konnikova in her spot as a regular guest on The Gist. I know she has studied con men and I generally enjoy such topics – just waiting for the right time to start this one.
It goes on and on. I am ashamed of my podcast collection. I’m sure that I would be a better person if I listened to these shows. They are being saved because of their value. This isn’t detritus-in-the-well stuff here. This is closer to cherished heirloom — or at least still-unused fancy kitchen device. My finger hovers over every choice. I’m indiscriminate in my purge. I am the thundering Mongol horde. I have become death, the destroyer of podcast collections.
Step Three: Recovery
“2.30 GB used in internal storage.” I rub the tip of my index finger with my thumb. I doubt that the skin is actually thicker but I feel that way – numb and with less sensation. Unlike a battlefield, the screen of my phone is not littered with evidence of the lost. Instead, it is antiseptic once again – as clean as a modern Swedish kitchen. You could eat off this thing.
Now is the hard part – the hard work that comes after the storm passes. We are at the difficult rebuilding stage. Episodes won’t stop coming. I endeavor to listen and stop collecting. But hear comes another Planet Money down the pipe. And the collection begins again. I silently mutter the serenity prayer as the little red number on the tile changes from “1” to “2.”