Have you heard of Podcasts or Podcasting? Perhaps your introduction to Podcasts has come from hearing about or listening to the popular show from NPR called Serial or maybe you have never heard of them at all. This article gives a brief introduction to podcasts and how to listen to them.
What is a Podcast?
A podcast usually consists of an audio file, often in MP3 format, that you can listen to from almost any device that can access the Internet. Usually you choose how to listen to the file – either directly from a web page or by downloading it to your own device, such as your laptop or a smartphone.
What are Podcasts for?
Podcasts are a simple way for organisations, companies and individuals to create audio programs and allow others to download and listen to them easily. You can think of them as similar to radio shows or the audio equivalent of blogs.
A subscription system using a method called RSS allows the listeners to be notified of when new episodes are published and even have these downloaded to their device automatically.
Why Are They Called Podcasts?
According to Wikipedia, the term Podcasting was first used by Ben Hammersley in The Guardian newspaper in February 2004. The word itself is made up of parts of two other words- iPod and Broadcast.
How To Listen To A Podcast
- Many organisations and individuals who publish podcasts (they are known as ‘podcasters’) post the audio files on their websites so you can visit the site and listen to it directly from your Internet browser.
- Use a piece of software, known as a ‘podcatcher’, designed to collect and manage the podcasts you wish to listen to and use this to download the audio files to your device. Popular software options include iTunes, Zune, Juice, Downcast, and Doggcatcher. Once configured, the software will watch for new episodes of the podcasts you have subscribed to and download them automatically.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
- While most podcasts are audio-only, video podcasts are becoming increasingly popular
- The decline of podcasting is frequently predicted but has never occurred and today podcasts are growing in number every day
- Major organisations are seeing the benefits podcasting can bring to their business and are starting their own or sponsoring others
- Podcasting is giving individuals a way of distributing their message globally
- Anyone can start a podcast!
Hopefully this brief introduction to podcasts has helped you understand what they are and perhaps inspired you to find out more about them. Please do ask any questions you may have about podcasts or podcasting in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.
Over the next few weeks I will publish some posts discussing the podcasts that I subscribe to across a range from subjects including:
- Social Media
- Ultramarathons and Trail Running
- Internet Marketing
- American Football
- and more…