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Why I Love The Syntax.fm Podcast

steelvoltage profile image Brian Barbour ・4 min read

I have a long commute everyday and there's nothing more satisfying than firing up an interesting podcast or audiobook for the drive. I am an audio learner, so it's especially useful for me. I've gone through quite a few developer podcasts (many of which I found right here on Dev.to) constantly searching for new ones I want to add to my list.

Usually, I give them a couple of episodes and end up stopping. However, I always come back to Syntax, every week--like clockwork. In fact, this morning I turned off another podcast to go listen to the new Syntax episode from Wednesday.

That got me reflecting on my favorite parts about Syntax and why it always draws me back.

Subject Matter

The hosts of the show, Scott and Wes teach web development for a living. Because of this, the duo discuss a wide breadth of technologies. They have entire episodes dedicated to Javascript, Node.js, React, CSS, security, Wordpress--so on and so forth. There are well over a hundred of them, a nice backlog to march through as a new listener.

I've listened to like eighty percent of them at this point, I think.

I love the episodes where they dive deep, weighing pros and cons. Yet, its nice that they sprinkle in Potluck episodes where they go over a broad range of listener prompted questions. I think what matters the most is that they tend to approach web technologies as the tools they are. They are't pushing a dogma.

Of course, its clear they have opinions on different technologies, yet they don't let that bleed through or overwhelm the message. For example, I have gotten the impression that neither Scott or Wes care for PHP much, or maybe are tired of it. Yet, they've expressed how instrumental it was during their early careers working in Wordpress and Drupal.

One of my favorite episodes was where Scott taught Wes about Vue.js. Wes had never used it before and is an experienced React developer--so I was able to relate. It led me to learning more about Vue in my spare time. So, kudos there to Scott.

Many other podcasts tend to do an interview format. I don't mind an occasional interview, but it grows old when done consecutively. I would rather have hosts that are consistent, than a different voice each episode. Part of the charm is getting to know the people you listen to every week. I feel like Scott and Wes are my friends, even though I've never met them or talked to them.

I never really felt that way with other podcasts, so they're doing something right.

When the duo do interview people, they ask pointed and in-depth questions. I've listened to other podcasts where they spent the entire episode inflating the ego of the person they have on as a guest, or asking easy questions that they can knock out of the park. Since Wes and Scott teach new web developers, they know the sorts of questions students ask and can frame them.

It's great, especially if you've never delved into a particular technology.

Humility

I could be wrong. But, my impression from listening to over a hundred episodes is that Scott and Wes are truly humble and earnest people. Developers have a tendency to like to flex their mental muscle at times. I get a sense that many who do podcasts have pride and certain agendas they wish to push. This can bleed through in very obvious ways, so much that it makes me cringe.

This has never happened when listening to Syntax.

Now, let me say--we all have an agenda at the end of the day. I know that Scott and Wes do too, still they swing that hammer lightly.

If I had to guess, their agendas are to attract people towards their respective learning platforms. Even so, they show that the best teachers/mentors aren't the ones who show off or gloat--rather the ones that guide and mold their students.

I don't feel like the entire podcast is one big sales pitch. Even with the ad reads and the shameless plugs.

I'll admit, I've glanced at their courses quite a few times--especially if they introduce one on a subject I'm interested in. Yet, I've never bought anything from either host. Well, I did take Wes's Javascript 30 course, which is free (I highly recommend it.) Scott also has a bunch of free stuff on his Youtube channel.

Humor

I find Scott and Wes hilarious. Both have goofy personalities. Wes can't pronounce ternary and every time it brings a smile to my face. Their jokes and sponsor ad read transitions have made me laugh out loud in my car like a buffoon. Often I look forward to the reads these days, especially with how Scott slides his way into one in a clever and pun-filled manner. Seeing as both of them are the about same age as me, I think there's some similarity in what we find funny. I doubt everyone will laugh as much as I do.

Production Quality

Scott and Wes sound like crisp and clean radio hosts. They have awesome mics (as is necessary for professional video course makers.)

Scott's deep voice and Wes's charming Canadian accent make a stark and pleasant contrast. I've listened to other podcasts where I had no idea who was talking, as people sounded similar and droned together.

They don't interrupt each other, or talk over each other. If they do, I imagine those parts are clipped out in post production. Either that, or they have a good synergy--something hard to measure or even figure out.

I'm not knocking on other podcasters, who maybe can't afford good equipment or have sound engineering experience like Scott does. All I'm saying is, the audio and editing is icing on the cake. I've listened to their live episodes, which have lesser sound quality, and still had a good time.


Checkout https://syntax.fm/ if you haven't. Give it a listen! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Discussion

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Thank you so much for this write up Brian! This was an awesome start to my day.

 

Wow thanks a ton for this - very cool to hear what people think about the podcast past "I love it!, you're funny!" Made my day - thanks again :D

 

Agreed! Especially about the humility part of it. They seem like real people that do not know everything but focus on what is important to them. In contrast, some devs seem like celebrities that are untouchable or superior because of their prestige, knowledge, and opinions which can cause some feelings of imposter syndrome.

 

Had this thought earlier this week when I was listening to one of their episodes this week, enjoy how humble they are about what they know and what they do not. They makes it possible for me to believe I can be as good as them. My favourite Developer podcast by far.

 

I agree. As a dev, you should be open to anything from anyone

 

Thanks for the info. I'm listening now to Episode 177 as I have been thinking about changing our API from PHP -> Node.

 

I love their shows and I don't even do Javascript as much. Good job Wes and Scott.

 

Thanks for sharing. I'm not a big fan of podcasts, mostly because I ended up listening to boring stuff (or people).

Looking around to try a podcast for developers I ended up here. I'm happy I did.

 

Right. These guys are anything but boring in my opinion. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I do.

 

Yeah Syntax.fm kicks butt! Great to listen to Wes and Scott on my commutes. They keep me interested in all things code!