I first got hooked up with Escape Pod thanks to my favorite podcast author Scott Sigler. One of his short stories Hero was featured on the weekly sci-fi podcast and I was anxious to check it out. It was a bit odd to hear someone other than my Future Dark Overlord (yes, I'm an Original Junkie) read his story but it was well done so I decided to subscribe and see what else came down the feed. In all honesty, it's been a 'hit or miss' ordeal.
Mr. Eley, the host and main narrator for the feed, has stated numerous times in his weekly intros that Escape Pod's purpose is to expose people to science fiction. While I think this is great and I like the fact that the feed is listener supported and pays for the stories they run, there are just as many stories that are read in the weekly show that aren't really what most fans would call sci-fi. Perhaps this is a function of Escape Pod getting what they can afford to read each week or it may be intended to reach those who aren't 'in' to sci-fi yet but Mr. Eley is sensitive to being questioned on his selections and will not discuss the criteria he uses to select the stories (he has stated before that he knows it when he sees it and the 'kiss my ass if you don't like it' is implied in his tone). While I understand his not wanting to defend his every story selection, I think it also makes it hard for people to know what to expect and to know if what they are hearing in the first cast is the norm for the genre and the show.
I am also less than thrilled about the 'Geek Dad Intro' that rears up from time to time. Mr. Eley is a newish father and goes on about his young son rather than giving the upcoming story a proper introduction. For me, it's a two fold turn off as he gives the impression of never having been around a small child before and since he doesn't blog about the personal stuff in his life (though it does occasionally pop up from time to time) it's hard to care what his son's been up to. I suspect the father aspect is in part why from time to time, they run children's stories (which they thankfully started warning those of us who do not want to hear a children's story so that we can skip the episode).
Pod Castle, the new fantasy story podcast by the same folks who work on Escape Pod, ran its first installment thru the Escape Pod feed in an attempt to lure subscribers to the new feed. For me, it seems to repeat the same flaw of its sci-fi brother of not defining what will be considered 'fantasy' and that has me thinking that I will likely be in the same boat if I subscribe - it'll be worth listening to but only about half the time.