What’s a podcast?

The short answer: a podcast is like a radio show, but on the internet.  The long answer is that a podcast is some form of regularly produced digital media hosted on a platform that you can subscribe to, such Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Stitcher Radio.  When new episodes of your podcast are available, you get a notification or the show is automatically downloaded to your computer or smartphone.  Most podcasts are episodic, meaning that new shows are released as episodes on a regular basis–weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or whenever the podcaster decides to publish a new show.  Podcast episodes are usually numbered to help you keep track of them.

Are podcasts just news talk shows?

Oh no, but many podcasts are talk shows, just like you hear on the radio.  As they say, anything goes in podcasting.  There are no rules.  Some podcasters tell stories with their shows–either creative fiction or interesting non-fiction docu-dramas.  Some podcasters do shows about current events and share information about topics that interests them and their audience.  Some podcasts are just audio-only versions of television or radio shows.  Some podcasts are just people talking about the weather, or the new pizza shop on the corner.  From shows about knitting cat sweaters to covering the White House, there’s a podcast for everyone.

Do you listen or watch podcasts?

Podcasts are almost always audio productions, meant to be listened to with headphones, computer speakers, on your smart phone, or while driving your car.  Technically, podcasts can be videos, such as what’s on YouTube, but these usually are not called podcasts.  You can listen to podcasts almost anywhere you can listen to radio or access the internet–at the gym, sitting in traffic, walking the dog, or while surfing the web.

Are podcasts free? 

Yes, in most cases podcasts are free.  Many podcast apps require you to create a free account to use their service, but the podcasts are still free.  However, increasingly some podcasters offer paid subscriptions or “premium memberships” to websites to access their podcasts.

How do I listen to podcasts?

Podcasts are available on websites and through podcasting “apps”such as Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher Radio, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, or Google Podcasts.  If you know of a person or organization with a podcast, they will tell you the best way to access their show.  In most cases, it’s as simple as going to a webpage or podcast app and clicking “play” on the audio player.

Can I download podcasts for later listening?

Many podcasters allow you to download episodes to your computer or smartphone.  You can then listen to the show at your convenience.  But the great thing about podcasts is that they are “on demand.”  You can always go back to the show and start, stop, skip ahead, or repeat the show as many times as you like.  There’s really no need to download anything.

Can I share podcasts with family and friends? 

Please do!  In fact, podcasters want you to share their shows with as many people as possible. You can share the website link or social media post on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite podcast app.

Who listens to podcasts?

Podcasting is booming!  It is the fastest growing form of digital media, and not just among young people.  Increasingly, older people are listening to podcasts on topics that interest them.  Podcasting offer something for everyone.