There has been a lot of chatter about the podcasting business model, and whether it has been a failure. That talk intensified when a major commercial podcaster, Podango, warned recently that its death seemed to be near. None of this is of concern to me: I leave business models to the money people. My interest is content.I had more free time than usual this week, so the list is longer than usual (in the order I listened). [See all lists.]

  • Grammar Girl 149: Top Five Pet Peeves of 2008 Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) has a business model, or, at least, some regular advertisers and a dedicated audience of grammar enforcers. The top peeves suggested by her listeners: carelessness with language, misuse of "myself," overuse of the word "tapped," the phrase "baby bump," and the use of "slay" as a noun, particularly in New York Daily News headlines. It's an idiosyncratic list, to be sure, but all these targets are worthy of scorn. (I also listened to the slightly less interesting Episode 150, about podcasting a book. I doubt I would ever listen to a book in serialized podcast form.) Length: 8:33 minutes. Released: Dec. 19.
  • Make-It-Green Girl 34: The Story of Stuff A sister podcast to the one from Grammar Girl, with the same "quick and dirty" preaching to the converted. Anna Elzeftaway suggests you stop buying so much stuff and suggests holiday gifts that require no products, packaging or other waste. "Make it special without making a footprint." The smug message grates a bit. Length: 5:06 minutes. Released: Dec. 24.
  • The Futile Podcast: "It's Christmas!" and 2008 in Review Part 1 and Part 2 Some guys sitting around talking about action movies. The Christmas episode focused on the original "Lethal Weapon," with Mel Gibson as a grieving cop with a death wish. I gather it hasn't aged well. What set it apart from the other buddy cop movies of the 1980s was its nihilism. The Gibson character had nothing to lose, while his partner, Danny Glover, close to retirement with a big family, had everything to lose and was indeed "too old for this shit." The sequel was OK but later installments drove this franchise into the ground. Movie buffs may find the two year-in-review episodes of entertaining, with discussions of "Speed Racer," Heath Ledger's final performance in "Dark Knight," "Wall-E"'s sci-fi failures and some picks for best and worst. Lengths: 32 minutes to an hour each. Released: Dec. 23, 27 and 30.
  • Buddhist Geeks 101: Hollow Bones Zen "Seriously Buddhist, Seriously Geeky." The podcast is part of the Personal Life Media family, whichcame up in an earlier installment that touched on podcast ads.. The episode opens with an ad for a meditation gong, an Audible.com pitch and a request for donations, but then gets down to business with part 2 of a good interview with Jun Po Roshi, a teacher in the Rinzai zen tradition who is the first dharma heir of Eido Shimano Roshi. Part 1 is here. Buddhism is not necessarily a religion, nor is it Japanese, or Chinese or Indian, and translating its practice into western culture is tricky. Key question: what's in your fridge? With a Buddhist knock-knock joke that is amusing if not a knee-slapper. Length: 19:50. Released: Dec. 22.
  • David's Coffee Stains: Crybaby I downloaded a bunch of podcasts with "coffee" in the title this week, given my interest in that particular addiction. It turns out that "coffee" is a fairly popular word in podcast titles for religious and music shows. So I found myself listening to this one from David Porter, an evangelist (yes, the slash seems to be part of the title). He started out with some interesting observations about the economic crisis that could have been mistaken for a Buddhist explanation of compassion and karma, or a liberal critique of the western economy, but it turned into a more traditional sermon with asides about abortion, same-sex marriage and sin. Length: 18:22 minutes. Released: Dec. 13.
  • Your Psychic Connection with Jorianne the Coffee Psychic This is also a radio show, apparently. Jorianne uses coffee and cream to divine the future, as her Web site explains: “My connection to reading coffee psychically began early in my paranormal explorations. I was discussing different methods of divination with my sister-in-law’s cousin, who is Hispanic, and she introduced me to the use of reading coffee this way – which is traditional in Hispanic cultures. Being a ‘coffeeholic’ myself, this seemed a natural for me and was my first attempt at learning how to access information psychically.” Listeners call in for readings. The audio quality is not great. The first caller is Wendy, who has several questions. Jorianne: "When I'm looking the coffee here, Wendy, on the question of your marriage, has it been a little stressful? Because the coffee's going backwards here..." Wendy: "Very." Oh my. Gift certificates available. Length: 55:21 minutes. Released: Dec. 17.
  • Urban Coffee 100: Homecoming Dave and Seth are back. I didn't know they were gone. After taking a year off, this discussion of politics, technology, music and other topics is getting a fresh start on live video and live audio as well as this podcast. I was looking for an actual coffee podcast so I only sampled a bit of this episode and a little of #101, released on Dec. 29. More inside jokes about people I don't know, though the account of identity theft held my interest for a bit. I'll check back on this one. Length: 1 hour, 7 minutes. Released: Dec. 10.
  • Hot Coffee Show, Episode 6: We're Under Attack! "An improv comedy show roller skating through your neurons." They seem to be having a good time, but I didn't find it particularly funny. Maybe it was the material: Hugh Jackman hosting the oscars, the losing Detroit Lions and some kind of musical about cafeteria bullies. There was a lot of hard-to-follow cross-talk. Maybe I'll check back when they get some more episodes under their belts. Length: 21:37 minutes. Released: Dec. 17.
  • WFMU's Coffee 2 Go With Noah An underground podcast of hip-hop demos. I'm not a big hip-hop fan but this isn't half-bad. Also hard to summarize. There was an interesting one from Datin called "Man Vs. Machine" that sampled Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine." Points for originality. Nothing to do with actual coffee. More info at the links from WFMU and Noah Zark. Length: 39:57. Released: Dec 3.
  • Audio Coffee Podcast "The following show may contain traces of nuts." An electronic music mix that started out mostly upbeat, fast-paced, unrecognizable (to me, at least). I shut it off around 1:10 when the music got slow and dreary. Not my thing. Some might enjoy it. Length: 2 hours, 27 minutes. Released: Dec. 7.
  • Bellissimo Coffee Podcast: Barista Exchange Actual podcasts about actual coffee seem to be dying off, (see the CoffeeGeek podcast review last week), and here's another example. Just one episode this year -- this one in March -- after a burst of activity in 2007. This episode promotes the newish Web site, Barista Exchange, discussion forums for professional baristas. I would just go check out that site and skip this episode. Length: 20:09 minutes. Released: March 31, 2008.
  • Coffee Now Podcast This coffee news podcast one started up in a brief burst, came out every two weeks for six episodes, then vanished in June. In this final episode, the host, Jezza Hardin, reveals some "disappointing news" -- that he has lost a piece of his coffee machine. "You realize we are now two podcasters about coffee that do not have coffee machines at home." His friend and co-host Craig replies: "We've got them, but they just don't work." Followed by a discussion of bad baristas and six-month-old headlines (people who roast their own beans at home -- who knew?). Length: 51:36 minutes. Released: June 20, 2008.
  • Coffee Convo 48: Reloaded! Another death in the coffee podcast family. After a year of podcasting, Tony Gettig signed off in November: "What started as a joyful expression of my love for coffee has turned into a taskmaster that I simply cannot live with anymore... Go hop on Barista Exchange or CoffeeGeek. There is more happening on those sites than the Convo could ever provide. Go on, try it, you’ll like it. :) You might even see me on one of those sites. Better still, start your own show." Too bad; this was a fairly well-produced podcast with some knowledgeable discussions and anecdotes by coffee professionals. At this point, I got a little down about the state of coffee podcasts, but I did sample these other defunct ones: the Portafilter.net podcast, which ended a long run in March, the Morning Brewcast, an intermittent one with poor audio quality, and something billed as "the Starbucks Podcast" on iTunes that was entirely in German. Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes. Released: Nov. 30.
  • MacBreak Weekly 120 & 121: "And One Less Thing" & "WWPD" If anyone has a business model for podcasting, it is Leo Laporte, and this is a flagship in his tech talk empire. While Laporte has an outside radio gig for income, he has also built a professional, multimedia webcasting operation that attracts advertisers as diverse as Visa, Audible, Drobo, Cachefly and various software makers. I missed listening to the first of these MacBreak shows last week because I was traveling. Alex Lindsay of Pixelcorps took the helm again, from Japan, joined by the tech journalist Andy Ihnatko near Boston, Scott Bourne (who left Podango earlier this year) from Gig Harbor, and the video podcaster Don McAllister from England, all through the miracle of Skype. Much of the discussion focused on Steve Jobs's decision to skip MacWorld this year, and plans by Apple to pull out of the convention altogether starting in 2010. Jobs and Apple no longer want product announcements to be held hostage by the convention schedule, and its artificial deadlines, Ihnatko argues (expanding on this Sun-Times piece.). There's talk of the Jobs succession as well. For episode #121 this week, Laporte returned from France and the host's seat, with the same lineup of panelists. There's more MacWorld advance talk, where MacBreak will be a live podcast. More about Steve Jobs and the ill health rumors. Consensus on the panel is a) skepticism about the rumors, b) none of this is good for MacWorld's future but c) the show is still a good educational program (of course, all these panelists are MacWorld speakers who get free tickets, loaded swag bags or speaking fees). A lengthy discussion of iFart Mobile, the No. 1 iPhone app. The iPhone Nano rumors. Some of the panel's product picks are listed here, including a cool translator iPhone app, Lingolook, pitched by Lindsay in #120. Length: Ranging from a tidy 52:55 minutes then back to Leo's expansive 1 hour, 20 minutes. Released: Dec. 24 and Dec. 30.
  • This Week in Tech 175: Highlights and Lowlifes 2008 More from Leo Laporte. Is podcasting ready for clip shows? I'm not sure it works for something as ephemeral as a tech news show, but that's what this is. I wouldn't really recommend this for anyone not familiar with the topics or the hosts. Leo is clownish, John C. Dvorak is grumpy, Jason Calacanis is full of know-it-all bravado. And so forth. Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes. Released: Dec. 28.
  • Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 147 In the comedy news category, it's back to my old standbys, Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette, who were working overtime before Christmas to get episodes out through the end of the year. This is the last episode of 2008. High points include Jonathan's account of getting a ticket for driving while holding a cellphone, the human nose as a sex organ, a discussion of modern pinball technology, PETA's person of the year and Doc Ellis's no-hitter on LSD. They have 150 more episodes to go before the world ends under the 2012 Mayan prophecy. I saw it in my coffee cup. Seatbelts. Length: 1 hour, 7 minutes. Released: Dec. 29.