So, I took a week and explored my podcasting options. In general, the quality of most podcasts varies between "oh my god, it's ham radio" and decent, with the NPR podcasts taking some obvious leads in quality.
I try to avoid the news podcasts. For the most part, I find that, regardless of how intently I watch the news or read newspapers, or avoid doing either, I will absorb news. It filters in. Therefore, I didn't need a bunch of podcasts on what was going on in the world. For the most part, I'm focused on music-oriented podcasts, although I do subscribe to Lonely Planet's "travelcasts" and Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.
The music podcasts I've focused on are primarily those things that I can't get on the radio. Three come from US radio stations: KCRW's brilliant program Morning Becomes Eclectic and local freeform radio giant WFMU's Antique Phonograph Music and The Audio Kitchen. This is followed by an Australian radio station's ambient/house channel, Ultima Thule. Two stations focus on traditional and modern Irish folk/pop music: the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast and the Cleveland Celtic Podcast. It's nice to have that music available again; I haven't had an opportunity to spend a lazy Sunday listening to fiddles and tin flutes since I moved out of Boston. Finally, there's The Owl & Bear podcast, a mix of rock and depressing folk music - as recommended by JGH.
I'm not 100% with this technology. I haven't had the "wow" moment with podcasts that I've had with blogging or Google Maps. It's still a little too difficult to just stumble upon a sound and stick with it. In other words, it's not like when I was a kid and I accidently tuned in to Vin Scelsa's brilliant show "Idiot's Delight." Idiot's Delight became the forum by which I was first turned on to Dylan, Randy Newman, and other songwriters. The podcasts don't seem to have the inspirational quality that freeform and college radio had (for me). Or, when radio crashed and burned, that satellite radio had for me (I have XM radio in my car, and haven't listened to the FM tuner in nearly a year as a result). But podcasts... podcasts don't seem to have that same spark.
In other words, "the poets down here don't write nothing at all."
I'm curious to see if and how podcasts develop as an artistic medium. It's a technology dependant on attention, which is not an infinite resource. I wonder if podcasts will be like most of the web, where attention is devoted to just a few popular websites. The remainder will be largely ignored, except for a few brief moments (i.e., when a website is "instalanched").