What is a Podcast?

So you’ve heard about all this podcasting stuff, but you really don’t know what it means for you.  Hopefully this will clear some of the confusion for you.    Think of radio before it was taken over by the heartless conglomerations.  Different disc jockeys took to the airwaves to spin tunes, injecting their own personalities into what they were doing.  It still happens today, though in the radio world it is pretty much relegated to talk shows or smaller, independent stations.

Podcasts are a lot like that with one major difference:  You can download and listen to the shows whenever you want.  Subjects range from television shows, to technical news, to music, to politics and beyond.  If you can think of it, there is probably a podcast for it and if there isn’t, well maybe it is your time to shine.

What confuses people the most about the term is the inclusion of  ‘pod’ which comes from Apple’s iPod.  iPod has sort of become the Kleenex of the mp3 player world.  Most people specify the brand, rather than the actual device.  You do not need an iPod to listen to a podcast.  The majority of them will work with any mp3 player and all of them will work with a standard computer setup.

Intrigued yet?  The big choice is determining how you are going to listen to a show.  A lot of shows have players build into their website(like this one does) or a link to download each file individually.  However if you really want to keep up with a show without the hassle of checking it’s site all of the time you can subscribe to the podcast using iTunes or other software.  If you look on the right-hand side of this site you’ll see a section called ‘Podcast Feeds’ that has three images under it.  The first says ‘iTunes.’  If you click on it it will open iTunes and subscribe you to the show.  That way whenever you open iTunes it will go out, check for, and download any new shows automatically.

If you are using a different program, say Media Monkey, you can click on the ‘Audio’ image below that and it will open a page that shows all episodes of the podcast.  You can copy the address for that page and drop it into Media Monkey’s podcast subscription interface and the program will do that program will download new episodes as they become available.  Those are not the only two program options, there are many more out there.  Do a Google search on podcast software and you’ll find many options are available.

So there you have it, a concise overview of podcasting that will hopefully encourage you to explore the possibilities.  Who knows, you may even get the bug and start producing a show yourself.  If that happens, may I suggest you go to the Podcast Answer Man’s Learn How to Podcast section.  Enjoy the journey.

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