CastNinja: a desktop alternative to iTunes

CastNinja is a new web app by Jesse Morris that uses the Audiosearch API. 

Jesse Morris is a big podcast fan. He tries to expose himself to a broad range of topics that interest him, and he’s fascinated by podcasts as a form of unregulated media that can address something as inane as socks or as elaborate as French Revolutionary history.

Jesse is also a software developer, and while he typically uses an app on his phone to listen to podcasts, sometimes he wants to listen on the web to avoid running his battery down. He used to use iTunes, but stopped after he switched to using his Android device for music and podcasts. He found that it was difficult to find a good replacement for desktop listening — so he decided to create his own, CastNinja, using the API.

Finding the API was a happy piece of luck for Jesse: he was looking for an API that provided metadata and MP3 source information for podcasts, and he happened upon a thread on StackOverflow that mentioned He read the developer documentation and went from there.

“I looked at other tools but didn’t find any great candidates… was easy to use and provided all the metadata and hosting information I needed — and it was very easy to get it up and running quickly.”

CastNinja’s user interface is deliberately simple. It provides an interface for seeing top shows and the ability to create an account and subscribe, but doesn’t it push alerts to you. Jesse says he designed it more in the model of Twitter, where you follow a podcast and see the latest episodes. Users can also see popular shows they might be interested in, and create playlists to listen to.

Jesse says he found the API intuitive and easy to use. “I looked at other tools but didn’t find any great candidates. iTunes was one option, but I’ve read that their API is poorly designed and difficult. SoundCloud was another possibility, but their API is focused on embedding their player as opposed to permitting access to metadata. was easy to use and provided all the metadata and hosting information I needed — and it was very easy to get it up and running quickly.”

CastNinja started as a desktop solution to podcast listening, but — once all the functionality is in place — Jesse would like to develop a mobile app as well. While the app wouldn’t initially add any new bells and whistles, he’s keeping an eye toward what it would take to scale, and what the next steps might be in terms of growing and responding to his user base.

Try CastNinja here, or give the Audiosearch API a whirl yourself!

See you in the archive,
The Pop Up Archive team

Which podcast app is right for you?

ipad-605439_1280New podcasts are coming out all the time, which is great — and also overwhelming.

Podcast discovery has long been limited to recommendations from friends or the hosts of shows listeners already know and love — but podcast apps are starting to integrate smarter discovery features into their offerings. We’re building the API to help podcast apps delight listeners with serendipitous discovery — in particular by using our podcast intelligence to surface specific episodes based on content, tone, and quality.

How to sort through all the choices and find the ones you’ll love? Here’s a roundup of how seven popular podcast apps handle discovery. Continue reading

Clippable quotes from political podcasts

Podcasts ramp up as Election Day nears


As the 2016 election season has ramped up to a fever pitch in the United States, a swath of political podcasts have come on the scene, topping podcast charts and publishing relentlessly as voters seek the latest news and commentary on the presidential race. With all three televised national debates behind us and just a week to go before voters head to the voting booths, the polls continue to shift. This recent quote from the FiveThirtyEight Elections podcast might sum it up best: “The one big question: is the race for president tightening? One word answer… Yes.” (Click the GIF below to see the tweet with audio.)


Many of you have been helping test our podcast clipmaker, which makes it possible to quickly clip podcasts quotes and share them on Twitter. We thought we’d take this opportunity to share some salient podcast moments with you:

And a throwback to earlier this year, when fiction author Brad Thor likened a Trump presidency to an “extinction level event” on The Glenn Beck Show, ultimately resulting in Beck’s temporary suspension from SiriusXM. (Beck’s show was reinstated shortly thereafter.) Upon further questioning, Thor clarified: “Hell no, I wasn’t talking about assassination.”


Got a favorite segment (political or otherwise) you’d like to share? Search for it at — if you see a scissors + Twitter bird icon on the episode page, feel free to clip and tweet away:


We’ll leave you with this segment on storytelling from Face The Nation 2016 Diary, where John Dickerson says, “There are no stories in presidential politics the way there used to be. Candidates used to tell real stories about human beings. …We know since voters vote based on emotion and projection, we should hear stories all day long.” He illustrates his point with an excerpt from a story Barack Obama told in 2008 at the Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia.


Happy clipping — and for those of you voting in the U.S., don’t forget to vote!


Pastime: streamlining the podcast app

Helping new listeners discover podcasts with the API

Software engineer Andrew Roper first got the idea to build Pastime — a “rigorously simplistic” audiobook and podcasting app — when a relative was diagnosed with macular degeneration.

With its large buttons and straightforward navigation, Pastime was made to suit the needs of visually impaired people. That challenge prompted Andrew to consider broader issues of accessibility.

“A non-technical, simplistic experience is crucial to drawing in new users. My aim is to declutter podcasting technology to make it as easy as possible for newcomers to consume and discover audio content,” Andrew says.

Building a sleek, minimalist interface and deep-linking content within the app, Andrew hopes to make streaming podcasts in Pastime as intuitive as turning on a radio.

“Overcast, Castro, and Apple’s native app all cater to podcast enthusiasts who already know their way around. I’m trying to reach people who aren’t quite sure what they’re doing,” he says.

But Pastime isn’t just your grandma’s app. Andrew is problem-solving basic user experience issues that prevent the majority of mobile users from giving on-demand audio a go.

In a recent Nieman Lab article, Panoply’s Jacob Weisberg bemoaned the medium’s consumer gap, saying, “It’s still much too hard to get podcasts. People who know how to do it do it quite easily. People who don’t know how to do it find it a little bit intimidating. There’s so much infrastructure that needs to be built and upgraded.”

Even for the podcast in-crowd, discovering and sharing new content is extremely problematic. After designing Pastime’s basic functionality, Andrew began tackling what he calls podcasting’s Netflix dilemma — how do consumers find anything amidst the overwhelming number of choices?

Andrew turned to the API, which he uses as the backend database for Pastime. Not only does allow users to search for content by show, network, category, people, or topic, it also lists top-rated shows and tastemaker audio picks.

Andrew hopes to further integrate into Pastime’s own curation feature — Shortlist — which lets users create and share streamable playlists of episodes.

“There is just so much good content out there, but it’s hard to know where to start,” Andrew says. “Pastime provides an entry point.”

Try Pastime

Take the clipmaker for a spin

Share your favorite audio clips on Twitter

Have you ever tried to describe a favorite podcast episode to a friend only to realize it’s more of a “guess you had to be there” situation? Ever wanted to share a zinger of a clip, but feel silly sending a podcast link and timecode? We’re right there with you.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are optimized for text, images, and video — but not audio. How do we make audio content flourish on our feeds just as much as photos, gifs, and videos? Let the words speak for themselves, we say. The clipmaker makes it easy for anyone to select a favorite podcast moment and share it on social media as a short auto-playing video. 

We’re pretty psyched and can’t wait to share it with the world. But first, we want your input. Sign up to be one of the first to test the clipmaker today! All you need is a Twitter account.


The clipmaker is the result of years of experience and observations in shareable audio. Segmenting audio files into snappy, quotable moments can help change the way people experience podcasts, taking them beyond the solitary work commute or dish-washing routine into more people’s daily lives and interactions.

Lots of people have lamented and examined the un-shareability of audio on the web, from Stan Alcorn’s 2014 piece “Why Audio Never Goes Viral” to various NPR experiments with social audio. Shareable audio was a popular topic at This American Life’s Audio Hackathon in the fall of 2015 and ultimately led to a Knight Foundation-funded prototype for shareable audio. Most recently, WNYC announced the open-sourcing of their producer-facing Audiogram Generator.

Our goal is for the clipmaker to be useable by anyone and embeddable anywhere on the web. The clipmaker will function for any of the 10,000s of podcasts indexed (and ultimately transcribed) by

Click on any of the tweets in this email to see the clipmaker in action. Clipmaker tweets include words as they are spoken in the audio and links to subscribe in iTunes — or potentially other platforms.

Sign up to beta test the clipmaker!

Analyzing podcasts through their language

Using transcript analysis to fuel podcast discovery

Lots of people get podcast recommendations from friends, social media, newsletters, or websites — which are pretty much the only sources available to them. Today’s podcast listening apps don’t offer much in terms of options for search and discovery.

A few apps have charts that reflect measurements of show popularity, or offer some insight into the listening habits of people who subscribe to the same show you do. But most podcast platforms simply don’t have much information about the podcasts they offer to listeners. There’s a title, maybe a short description, and possibly some listening data gathered by tracking users in the app. But the episodes themselves — their content, the topics they cover, people they feature, moods they strike — are black boxes.

Continue reading

Making podcast search smarter

New ways to slice and dice podcasts: Podcast Finder 

What if searching for podcasts felt as fun and effortless as browsing on-demand video platforms like Netflix or Hulu?

We’re using the deep database of podcast metadata we’ve collected at, the podcast search engine and API from the Pop Up Archive team, to build better ways to discover podcasts. provides topic and network filters, discovery categories, and smart show search features to make finding podcasts easier than ever. Give it a try — and tweet at us to tell us what other options you’d like to see.

Continue reading

A new tool for podcast recommendation

Find new podcasts with PodLikeThat

As we’ve surveyed people about podcast discovery, one common complaint from listeners is that when it comes to trying out new shows, it’s hard to know where to start. While best of lists and curated recommendation sources abound, it takes time and work to wade through the picks and answer one simple question: what podcast should I listen to right now?

We’re cooking up a few different podcast discovery options over at PodLikeThat uses complex podcast intelligence to recommend podcasts based on the question: what other episodes do you like?

Continue reading

Building Charts

Taking a closer look at podcast performance

As Pop Up Archive builds Charts, we’re gathering more and more data points on podcast rankings over time. We’ve started with iTunes charts data (according to some sources, Apple’s podcast app accounts for 70% of podcast listening), and we’ll incorporate other sources from here. Using’s in-depth show statistics tool, you can examine podcast charts stats in multiple ways — and gain insight into the otherwise opaque algorithms that power the charts themselves.

Get the low-down on the current top 10 ranking podcasts — look at “Days on charts” to see if they’re newbies or top-10 veterans. In the top 10 chart for March 7, shown above, you can see that Alice Isn’t Dead and Pardon My Take have both spent less than a week on the iTunes charts.

Search for shows and compare rankings for any podcasts that have been on the iTunes top 100.  For example, see how Alice Isn’t Dead compares to the show that spawned it, Welcome to Night Vale:

Look at “peak rank” to compare current rankings to all-time podcast performance. Some comparisons may surprise you.  For example, take the comparison of Fresh Air, a public media mainstay, to WTF with Marc Maron, which is recorded in comic Maron’s garage. In spite of its rougher edges, WTF peaked in the #1 iTunes spot, whereas Fresh Air has only made it to #2.

See if a podcast is trending up or down on the charts using last month’s median rank. Looking to the example above, we can see that today WTF has fallen below its median rank from last month, whereas Fresh Air has remained right around last month’s median.

One thing to remember is that these podcast rankings put faith in the iTunes charts as an accurate measure of popularity. Of course, the charts would be more informative if they included number of subscribers or listens for each podcast. The iTunes charts seem to favor iTunes interactions (i.e. subscriptions, reviews) and upward momentum (more on that here) — what do you think?

Developers: build rankings into your app with the charts API endpoint

Until now, there has been no easy programmatic way to access podcast rankings, and iTunes offers no explicit way to pull podcast rank data from their API. By offering both current rankings and historical rankings going back to 2013 as structured data, the API provides developers with a new tool for building podcast popularity into their projects, apps, and podcast platforms.

Are you a developer? Try out’s Charts endpoint

Hungry for more stats? Let us know which podcast data points would be most useful to you. And stay tuned: we’ll be adding more data points to the API and the Charts page in the weeks and months to come.

The sorry state of podcast charts

Where are the Billboard Charts for podcasts?

When it comes to measuring top performers, podcasts lag behind other media types.

Podcast charts — where they do exist — are fragmented across different apps and often measure different things. It’s hard to answer questions about which new podcasts were popular last week, let alone last year. This lack of transparent data isn’t just a loss to listeners, but also to creators, since advertisers have a hard time pinpointing what’s really popular.

So what makes it so hard to talk about the most popular podcasts?

Continue reading