I have a few podcasts I like listening to while I do my work planning Monday mornings or during slow afternoons, but iTunes irritates the heck out of me, especially the way it handles playback (why do I have to create a playlist for everything?). I hate that it starts two services (ipodservice.exe and ituneshelper.exe) that run all the time. I have no iPod, so I don’t need the iPod service. And I don’t run iTunes enough that I want the iTunes helper running all the time, but iTunes won’t run at all if you disable this service.
Don’t get me wrong, iTunes is a pretty cool piece of software. It’s pretty and the iTunes store is pretty near unbeatable. If you buy music, that is. I basically just listen to my own ripped CDs, Marketplace Money, and This American Life.
So I went looking for an alternative, and found Juice, a cross-platform (Windows, Linux, and OSX) podcast receiver. It is fairly lightweight, and there is no need to let it run at all times. Just fire it up once a day, week, or whenever, to update your subscriptions, and off you go. I have Windows Media Player set to monitor my “My Music” folder where my podcasts go, so they show up in WMP soon after they are downloaded.
Works well for me, and gets me back a few extra megabytes of operating RAM.