Amber Cazzell

PhD, Social Psychology. Visiting Scholar at Stanford, CSO at ERA.

Podcasts to learn code:’s Charles Max Wood on the power of podcasting

Charles Max Wood is the founder of, a network of podcasts which collectively reach an audience of 70,000+ programmers every week. Among the more popular podcasts are JavaScript Jabber and Ruby Rogues. Despite his huge listenership, when I interviewed him he told me he thinks that podcasts have yet to hit their soon-coming “heyday.”
Part of his confidence is because podcasts are a unique, decentralized outlet for appealing to niche audiences. I asked him about whether the trajectory of podcasts might echo the history of television — at first representing local, niche interests but quickly standardizing and appealing to broad swaths of the population. He thought it was unlikely. “With these mass-appeal shows — they get people on — and they’ll talk about issues people care about, but sometimes it’s these niche areas that you’re going to make the biggest impact, and the mass appeal shows just can’t do that for everybody.”
The impact that niche podcasts can have is a source of meaning and passion for Charles. While interviewing, he recounted the story of a time a listener reached out to him to thank him for his work. By listening to the podcasts, the listener gleaned technical knowledge which helped him learn to code. Ultimately, the listener transitioned out of a low-paying job and into a programming career.
Charles plans to expand the network with the addition of six new podcasts, for six niches: Open-source sustainability, data science, developer leaders, artificial intelligence/machine learning, internet of things, and virtual reality/augmented reality. He hopes that these new podcasts will make a difference in more programmers’ lives.
I am building out the egalitarian infrastructure of the decentralized web with ERAIf you enjoyed this article, it would mean a lot if you gave it a clap, shared it, and connected with me on Twitter! You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel!



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