NPR has a nifty feature that builds a podcast customized to your tastes, found at www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php. This makes NPR’s podcasts more interactive than the average podcast, as it allows the listener to choose which topics they want to hear.

I wanted to bundle my favorite NPR programs into one all-inclusive podcast. However, the database did not have any programs on file, only extremely broad topics. These topics are too general to appeal to an audience. For instance, “cooking” and “vegetarian,” both generic terms in their own right, did not show up as viable options, but “food” did. “Food” can mean a number of things: how food is grown, processed, packaged, marketed, its chemistry, and more. I just want new recipes, and to narrow it down even more, I don’t want recipes for food I won’t eat. But I gave it a shot anyhow.

I created “Helen’s Podcast” with food, the environment, and two of my favorite bands as the criteria and subscribed via itunes. I got information on batteries, ballpark cuisine, a winning garlic recipe, Isabella Rossolini, the Royal Horticultural Society, and more. It’s sort of the podcasting equivalent of stumbleupon.com: you receive tidbits you may find interesting, and you’re never sure what you’re going to get. It didn’t let me build as much as I would have liked; instead of one large podcast, the result is actually short, separate podcasts of newscasts that may be relevant to my interests.

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