Podcasting has always been about giving control to the listener. While radio and TV forced the listener to follow a predetermined linear schedule, the first promise of podcasting was to let us make our own programming, both in terms of choosing which shows to listen to and giving us freedom to pick our own preferred schedule. And the sheer quantity of shows between which to choose was enormously expanded too by the disintermediation of production and pubblication that podcasting allowed.
But podcast listener’s freedom is not limited to schedule and selection. Each episode can be listened as many times as we want, and individual sections can be repeated as many times as we want, at any speed we desire, or completely skipped. Chapters add even more possibilities, and the producers that adopt them are often rewarded with listeners appreciation and growing audiences.
With Castamatic 6 I would like to expand listener’s control even more by introducing “Skip Intro/Outro” and “Skip Ads”. The former lets you select a time interval to skip at the beginning and the end of each episode for a given podcast. Skip Ads makes the app automatically skip chapters containing unwanted content. It lets you specify keywords both globally and for each single podcast, and Castamatic will automatically skip any chapter containing such keywords in its title, while mixing in a very short audio jingle signaling the jump.
Castamatic will skip the chapter just once per episode, so if you want to go back and listen to the skipped segment, just press the “Previous Chapter” button in the transport bar and you will go back exactly where the skip began.
I hope this feature will be appreciated by listeners and producers alike. We have been using ad blockers on the web for some times now: there has been some controversy, but in the end the user came out with a little more control on his experience, and in the age of surveillance capitalism that certainly can’t be a bad thing.
Skip Ads leaves a lot more control to podcast producers than ad blockers on the web: they can choose if and where to place chapter markers. Many simply don’t use chapters at all. Some others use chapter markers but completely omit them at the beginning of sponsor segments: this can be percieved as a little listener-hostile, but everybody makes choices balancing the needs of their listeners and sponsors or advertisers. Some others, and I think this might be the most balanced approach, put one chapter marker at the beginning of the sponsored segment, and a second marker some seconds before the end, leaving the final call to action or thanks to the sponsor at the beginning of the following chapter. This way the listener can skip (manually or automatically) the chapter, listen to a much smaller segment mentioning the sponsor, and if he’s interested he can go back and listen to it in full.
Obviously Skip Ads can be used on many more circumstances: maybe you want to skip that same old intro song that is a little too long, or you don’t care at all about segments about deep learning in tech podcasts, or some unpleasant president on the news. Just insert the unwanted keywords in the settings and Castamatic will skip them for you.
Skip Ads and Skip Intro/Outro are not the only new features. Castamatic 6 includes an all new audio engine based on AirPlay2, with improved audio effects both for leveling / gain optimization and silence skipping, and an improved CarPlay integration.
All the new features are available now for free for every user of Castamatic.