I’ve found a rather good ‘intelligent speech’ podcast search-engine called Audiosear.ch. The public beta seems to have appeared last May, and it had some light publicity over the summer of 2015. At early 2016 Audiosear.ch is certainly better than any podcast search engine that I’ve ever seen, although it’s still very far from complete.
Audiosear.ch’s index is hand selected, with a strong focus on the top-ranking regular podcasts. So no swivel-eyed loons raving about vaccines and eugenics, or none that I could find. But the focus on mainstream popularity pushes Audiosear.ch strongly toward the shiny n’ slick American podcast format, and somewhat away from the in-depth academic (unless it has EconTalk-like levels of popularity – even then, only 14 episodes of EconTalk appear to be in the index). For instance, Audiosear.ch doesn’t index the excellent Astronomy Cast (now part NASA-funded) or The Long Now’s Seminars about Long-Term Thinking talks, though I’ve suggested both to the curators.
The user can filter Audiosear.ch search results by #LongListen (longer recordings), but can’t combine #LongListen with “by date”. So it’s not useful if you just want to drop by each month, to see what’s new-and-long on a small handful of your favourite topics. You can set up alerts, but you have to sign-up to get them and they sound very broad-brush…
“Get email alerts whenever a specific word or phrase is mentioned in a podcast that’s up on Audiosear.ch.”
They mean in the full transcripts. That’s likely to be useful for PR people, marketeers, and advertisers looking for suitable podcasts. Audiosear.ch no doubt now has a large and easily-monetised e-mail mailing-list of such people. But a regular listener might prefer to have an alert only if the keyword is in the title or the show-blurb. And to get the alert via RSS or Facebook.
Another problem is that the #LongListen tag doesn’t distinguish between magazine-style segmented shows that just happen to be long, and proper long talks / interviews / documentaries. So I’d suggest Audiosear.ch needs a “#LongListen BUT NOT #MagazineShow” search filter.
There’s no option for UK users to include the BBC Listen Again radio streams and then to make them searchable along with everything else. Which is understandable, given that the BBC sets arbitrary access time-limits, curtails region access, and doesn’t take adverts. Audiosear.ch can find one of BBC Radio 4’s most popular academic shows though, In Our Time — since the show’s household-name presenter has the clout to insist on always-accessible and globally-available .MP3 recordings.
I found a 40-minute November 2015 interview with the Audiosear.ch founder, on The Wolf Den (a trade podcast for the emerging podcasting industry), if you want to learn more about the background to the service and also its counterpart which archives radio transcripts. It seems that Audiosear.ch is seen as business-to-business by its curators, which explains its initial focus on very popular shows. The curators are also very Twitter-centric — which I’d suggest may be a stumbling block when pushing the podcast-listening habit out to older and wider audiences. Given that Audiosear.ch currently only has 136 Likes on Facebook, I’d suggest that Facebook could also use some love if and when they try to refine Audiosear.ch for consumers.
Finally, if you want an advert-skipable offline .MP3 from an Audiosear.ch result, rather than an audio stream, then note that Audiosear.ch URLs are supported for audio file conversion/download by the ever-reliable 9xBuddy.