Hi.  I'm Dave, and I'm a podcast-aholic.

Ever since I got my iPhone last summer, I have been subscribing to podcasts.  So many of them that I am way behind on listening to them.  "Stuff You Missed in History Class."  Great podcast, but I'm 12 episodes behind.  "The Roadhouse."  Wonderful Blues podcast, but lately it's been building for 3-4 episodes before I plow through them (which can make for a great afternoon of Blues music).

I have four podcasts that I stay caught up on:

1) One of Swords (Dan Americh's Activision podcast)

2) Official Xbox Magazine

3) Talk Radar

4) Ricochet (a conservative politics podcast)

I do subscribe to the Game Informer podcast, but I was something like 12 episodes behind on that too, until recently.

Why isn't the GI podcast in the must-listen category?

I shall attempt to describe why that is, with some hopefully helpful suggestions on what might make it a  must-listen for me.

1) Format

The first issue with the podcast is the format.  In the typical GI podcast, they talk about a couple of different specific games, talking with the reviewers or, if there was only one reviewer, somebody else who played the game.  This is fine if you really want to hear about that game, but if you don't, it's really pointless.  I listened to last week's episode almost immediately for two reasons: I wanted to hear what they had to say about Crackdown 2, since I was considering buying it, and because of the other topic (which I'll get to below).  There have been whole podcasts where nothing interested me, so I just didn't get around to listening.

I like the format of the OXM podcast because it's rarely game-specific, except for usually the interview (something else I'll get to below).  They talk about the video game world in general, with "This Week in Xbox" and the "Xbox Weather Report," where they talk briefly about upcoming games.  When the GI podcast breaks from its mold, like last week's discussion about Blizzard's RealID thing, it makes the podcast a lot more entertaining.  It's an issue that affects the entire gaming world, even if you don't play WoW, and is thus a lot more interesting.  The podcast needs a bit more commentary about the video game world and less game-specific stuff.

2) Interview - or something like it

The podcast needs a little something extra, in addition to the GI personalities.  Whether it's an interview segment or something else, it needs some kind of outside force.  OXM and One of Swords typically do  interviews, and this adds a different element to the podcast.  I realize that Talk Radar doesn't usually have one, but that podcast has so much personality and  insanity that they can afford to break the "rules" and still be enormously entertaining.

This outside force could just be interacting with the listener in some way, which Talk Radar does do (though not every week).  OXM does contests and viewer mail/phone calls.  So does One of Swords.  I haven't listened to every GI podcast recently, but I can only remember one or two times at most where they've interacted with the consumer.  I think even if they did do an interview, they should do a little more listener interaction.  It brings the podcast a lot closer to the listener.

3) Attitude/Personality

It's hard to pin down exactly what I mean by that, other than by giving an example.

As I said, I was way behind on my GI podcasts.  So when I stumbled upon the one where "Gorilla Radio" "hijacked" the podcast to do a different type of show, I thought  "ok, let's see what they do with this."  And I have to say, I was entertained the entire hour.  It felt like the staff was letting loose in an entertaining matter.  They swore (bleeped out, of course), for one thing.  I'm not saying that swearing is necessary, but it did signal an attitude change from the typical GI podcast that made it a lot more fun.  They were free-wheeling, cutting loose, saying exactly what they think in an even more direct manner than usual.  I loved it!

Then next week, it was back to normal.

Yes, the people on the podcast joke around some, but for some reason that personality doesn't always come through.

As I said above, I skipped ahead to last week's podcast because of the Blizzard thing and Crackdown 2. I've still got 15 minutes to go in the podcast, but the Blizzard discussion was great.  One reason for that is because of Andy's passion on the issue.  It just made it more fun to listen to.

I don't know whether it's the constricting format that doesn't allow this to happen regularly, or what it is.  But it's when this attitude and personality are allowed to come to the forefront that the show really takes off.  I see I've got another Gorilla Radio episode in the queue to look forward to (I did say I was behind, right?), so I'm hoping that will be just as awesome as the first one.  I'm not saying they have to be like that *all* the time, but just a touch of that in every podcast would make it that much better.

4) Women!

None of the other podcasts do this (Francesca is the only prominent woman at OXM and she doesn't want to do the podcast, and Talk Radar only occasionally has one of their female columnists sit in), but I love hearing Meagan and Annette when they are on the GI one, and I think one of them should be a regular.  Something about the female voice just makes things even better.  One of Swords is typically better with Dan's wife Kat on the show than when the others are on, and part of that is because of her voice (though granted, there are other reasons as well, like their natural rapport).

But that's just a personal preference.  And I realize they may have no desire (or time) to do this. 

Don't get me wrong. I do generally enjoy the GI podcast, and I'm glad I subscribe to it.  I realize that it's still relatively new (just over half a year in), so there are probably still growing pains.

Hopefully these suggestions (if they are read) will be taken in the manner intended.  Constructive criticism that will make a "I really enjoy listening to it...when I get around to it" podcast into a "I have to listen every week!" podcast.