A podcast is like a radio show that you download from the internet.
And before we go any further, no, you don’t HAVE to have an iPod to listen to a podcast.
Podcasts can be listened to on any brand of MP3 player.
They can also be transferred to and listened to on your cell phone or PDA.
You can download them to your pc or laptop, and listen straight from there.
You can even burn them to CD and play them wherever there’s a CD player.
Unlike commercial radio, a podcast can be listened to when you want, where you want.
You don’t need to be tuned into a specific station and forced to listen to what is playing, or try to remember to tune in when you favorite show is being broadcast.
Instead, you can subscribe to a podcast, and listen to the show at your convenience.
But the real beauty of a podcast is not just that you can listen to it anywhere anytime…. as good as that is.
No, the best part is the amazing spectrum of content that is available out there waiting for you to discover it.
There’s a podcast out there for you.
Like horror stories?
There’s hundreds of those out there.
Like horse racing, china painting, or origami?
They’re out there too.
If you can imagine it, there’s a pretty good chance that someone out there is already producing a podcast about it.
And another great aspect of podcasts is that you don’t have to keep checking for new episodes.
Because the new epsiodes will download themselves automatically to your computer.
Sound too good to be true?
Let’s look at how it works.
First up, you’re going to need a piece of software that will handle your podcast downloads for you.
This software is sometimes referred to as a “podcatcher”, or as a “podcast aggregator”.
There are plenty of free programs out there, and some of those are listed on the podcast software page!
Probably the most widely known and used of these is Apple’s iTunes.
Let’s say you’ve found a podcast you think you’d be interested in.
You need to set up what is known as a “subscription” to the podcast feed.
Don’t worry, no money is involved. 99.9% of all podcasts are free.
And the ones that aren’t will not allow you to download them until you’ve paid for them, so you’re not going to get any nasty surprises.
Now, sometimes you’ll see reference to “RSS” or “XML”.
This is simply the code that allows your aggregator to get the podcasts you want to subscribe to.
Don’t worry, unless you want to make your own podcast, the most you might need to know is the address for that RSS or XML file, which will be easy to find on the podcast website or directory page.
Depending on your aggregator, you might have to enter that address manually, in order for your software to know how to get your podcasts.
But more and more programs are allowing “one-click” subscription, so you might not need to worry about “RSS” or “XML” at all.
iTunes allows this “one-click” method.
So, you’ve set up your subscription. What now?
Your aggregator should start downloading the most recent episode of the podcast for you.
It will also show you any previous episodes that you might like to download.
And when a new epsiode is released by the person creating the podcast, your podcast aggregator will automatically download that new epsiode for you!
And once downloaded, you can copy the MP3 file onto your MP3 player or cell phone, or you could listen to it directly from your PC.
Open your web browser and surf on over to www.apple.com/itunes and download the latest version of iTunes.
Within iTunes, you have the option of searching for podcasts. If you find something you like, it’s as simple as clicking the subscribe button.
OK, so you’ve got all that.
Where should you look to find some podcasts?
If you’re using iTunes, start with the iTunes Music Store. On the left hand side, you’ll see a button which says “podcasts”.
If you’re using another aggregator, there are lots of directories out there.
You could start with:
You can even use Google to find podcasts. Simply type in the word “podcast” along with the topic you’re interested in, and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find!
Once you’ve found a show you want to listen to, you can listen to it from the podcast website, manually download the file to listen to later, or you can subscribe to the podcast and have new episodes directly saved on your computer for your convenience.
There are thousands of podcasts on hundreds of different topics. Go out and look for something you’re intested in. If you don’t like what you hear, you can listen to something else! That’s the beauty of podcasting!
If you’ve found a podcast you like, and you’re still stuck with setting up a subscription, e-mail the podcaster whose show you want to listen to.
Trust me, they will go out of their way to make sure you get set up correctly.
Well, hopefully that’s given you a better understanding of how podcasting works.
Now, it’s up to you to go and find some content you’d like to listen to.