RadioPublic Is a Quest, And I Am the Champion

I am the chosen one

RadioPublic, the podcatcher made by PRX, is a quest, and I am its hero.

This morning on my commute, I was listening to the most recent episode of 99% Invisible, “368- All Rings Considered,” a fantastic and fun episode about the inception, industry, and legacy of custom ringtones. It felt like a normal morning, with a normal–if delightful–episode of 99% Invisible.

A RadioPublic embed of the episode for thematic coherence. You can also find the episode here.

But then, something else happened. Something . . . important.

A push notification appeared at the top of my phone. Being the millennial with ADD that I am, I only saw very little of the message, “unlocked bonus audio,” before hitting the alert and opening up the spoil of riches that I deserve. I can’t be positive, but looking back, I’m fairly sure this was the push notification message in full:

This is RadioPublic. I’m Roman Mars. And you’re the fucking chosen one, Wil. As thanks for you being the hero of podcast listeners, here’s some secret audio that nobody else in the world knows about.

A screenshot from an android phone showing the RadioPublic feed for Radiotopia Audio Extras.

Before any of you begin to comment that you, too, have unlocked bonus audio on RadioPublic, or that you have found the Radiotopia Audio Extras through other means, you are a liar and a fool and I will sue you for defamation.

To properly explain my rise to Hero, though, we must lay the framework that finally lead me here, to my greatest success. In the interest of not writing out the full Hero’s Journey, because I do not want to, we will be examining my heroic narrative through the lens of Dan Harmon’s Story Circle, because it only contains eight steps instead of ten.

A graphic representation of Dan Harmon's story circle, as depicted by text steps leading to each other via a circle of arrows.

The Story Circle plot structure consists of the following steps:

  1. The hero is in a zone of comfort,
  2. but they want something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  4. they adapt to it,
  5. they get what they want,
  6. but pay a heavy price for it.
  7. They return to their familiar situation
  8. having changed.

1. The hero is in a zone of comfort

It’s me. I am the hero.

What is my zone of comfort, you might ask? Well, reader, before I used RadioPublic as my podcatcher, I used PocketCasts (and still do a little but don’t worry that’s not important to the narrative so let’s just not focus on it). I was comfortable with PocketCasts–liked it even–until it changed its whole shit. The redesign on PocketCasts completely removed functionality that I needed to continue writing pieces like This Week in Podcasts, and also it was ugly and I hated it.

2. But they want something

I needed something useful. I needed something pretty. I needed something . . . new. But reader, I was scared. Was I going to abandon PocketCasts, the app I’d used for so long, the app that gave me stats like saying that during the amount of audio I’ve listened to using the app, 140 days and 8 hours, 50,533,750 babies were born.

Was I going to abandon PocketCasts for something . . . better? Or was I going to stay in my comfort zone and accept living with an app that would never give me what I needed?

Reader, you know what the fuck I did.

3. They enter an unfamiliar situation

I don’t remember who first recommended RadioPublic to me as a podcatcher, and it doesn’t matter, because they aren’t the protagonist of this story, I am (but it was probably Elena Fernández Collins). When I downloaded RadioPublic, I was scared. I was hesitant. I didn’t want to like it, and everything was in weird places compared to PocketCasts.

4. They adapt to it

But I adapted to it.

5. They get what they want

After adapting, I found that RadioPublic was actually really lovely to use. Not only was its UI welcoming and intuitive, it also had lovely curated playlists from people I trust, gives back to podcasters with a teeny tiny bit of money just from my listens, and even highlighted fiction.

I finally had a podcatcher that met my needs–well, most of my needs.

6. But pay a heavy price for it

The problem? RadioPublic doesn’t have a lot of podcast feeds. Remember that time Luminary got into a lot of trouble from a bunch of networks because it was distributing their feeds without their knowledge (like plenty of other podcatchers, but the difference here being that Luminary is in direct competition with some of those networks–like Gimlet, which is owned by distribution platform Spotify)? RadioPublic doesn’t do that, which is good, but that means I don’t have those feeds in RadioPublic, which is bad.

7. They return to their familiar situation

Reader, I knew what I had to do. I had to go back to PocketCasts. How else was I going to get those sick feeds of weird indies that RadioPublic didn’t have?

8. Having changed

But as soon as I returned, I knew that things were . . . different now. I knew that PocketCasts was comfortable, but it wasn’t very good anymore. RadioPublic was beautiful, but it also had its shortcomings. But I was loyal. I didn’t abandon RadioPublic, even with the trials I had faced. Granted, I might still use PocketCasts on the side but listen that isn’t the point of the story and I don’t know why we’re letting monogamy culture get into our app usage and let’s just focus on how I returned to my familiar situation having changed okay?

I am the hero, and I have succeeded in my quest

Now that we all understand that I am the hero of podcast listeners–or, really, should we be so bold to say the hero of podcasts?–I have finally been rewarded for my efforts and bravery. I have done the equivalent of Getting the Girl for podcast listeners: I have Gotten the Bonus Audio.

So thank you, RadioPublic, for rewarding my efforts.

And to the rest of you, you are welcome. I don’t really know yet how this benefits you, but it doesn’t matter, because you are not the protagonist of this story. I am.

  1. I wish Radio Public would re-think their search function. If a show or episode of a show has a letter with punctuation–accent mark, tilde, etc, and the user doesn’t include the punctuation, the search will fail. Basically all the other pod hosts will recognize the letter either way. The user types “señor” or “senor” and the show comes up with either. On Radio Public, no. An in-the-weeds criticism I realize but still frustrating.

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  2. my goodness this is such a beautiful post.

    as a podcaster I should also shout-out RadioPublic (I mean in terms of mission/values alignment they are SO creator focused unlike many many others) — they provide a ‘one true’ podcast embed player THAT WORKS WITH ANY PODCASTING HOST and permalinks that are cross-device compatible on everything.

    I have yet to uncover any secret rooms or treasure boxes, however RadioPublic is my preferred way of creating podcast embed codes.

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