Not too long ago, Richard Miller suggested using the iTunes XML file that iTunes creates for use by other applications as a way of getting feedback for podcasts. Here's Apple's description of the XML file and what it can be used for.
If you rate a few things in your collection and then go look at the XML file, you'll see it would be a relatively simple task to grab whether something had been played or not, it's rating, and how many times it was played (usually once for a podcast) from the file. An application that lived in the system tray on Windows or in the menu bar on OS X could forward any changes in that data back to the podcaster.
The question is, would you be willing to do that if you got something back: better recommendations on podcasts you'd like? As the number of podcasts on a site like IT Conversations grows, I think recommendations are going to play a more and more important role. The problem is getting data about what people like to make the recommendations work. This might provide a semi-automated way to get feedback from the player to IT Conversations.