A podcast is a form of digital media consisting of episodes of content which can be subscribed to and are streamed using an Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.
In most cases, a podcast is a music or talk program delivered in episodic format over the Internet. However, the term can also be used to refer to any type of content delivered automatically over the web, including video and text content.
Depending on the platform being used, podcasts may be streamed online, or downloaded and listened to offline.
The term podcast was coined in 2004 as a mashup between iPod and broadcast. Despite this nod to Apple's iPod, the term predates native support of podcasts on iPod, and podcasts aren't platform-specific and can be accessed using any type of device including laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and smartphones.
Podcasts cover the entire gamut of content. There are highly specialized podcasts dedicated to niche topics and subscribed to by a modest audience. There are also incredibly popular podcasts, such as the Serial podcast which debuted in 2014, has been downloaded millions of times, and has spawned a variety of parodies due to its overwhelming popularity.
Podcasts are available from a number of sources including iTunes, SoundCloud, and many additional smartphone applications and websites.
Also See: Streaming Media
Frequently Asked Questions
Are podcasts free?
While there are a few premium podcasts, the majority of podcasts can be listened to for free. Most podcasts are supported by corporate sponsors who are typically mentioned and advertised during the course of the podcast. However, some podcasts are entirely non-commercial or listener-supported.
Where can I find podcasts to listen to?
You can access a wide range of podcasts by visiting a variety of sources which will vary depending on the platform you will be using to tune in.
- On an Apple smartphones and tablets: Just select the “Podcast” icon, find something that looks interesting, and start listening.
- On a laptop or desktop computer: There are countless ways to find podcasts on a computer. You can access a large library of podcasts by installing iTunes on your computer, by visiting PodCastChart.com and locating a podcast you want to listen to, or by navigating to the website of a podcast you'd like to listen to and following the instructions provided for listening online.
- On an Android device: Open the Google Play store, search for “Podcast” and download one of the many free highly-rated apps. Be careful to take a look at the user reviews before selecting an app to ensure you get one that users are happy with.
Are radio programs ever offered as podcasts?
Many popular radio programs, including This American Life and RadioLab, are broadcasted over the radio and also available in podcast form. Some programs that offer this blended model offer additional content in podcast form that is not broadcasted on the radio.
How can I get started podcasting?
The cost to get started podcasting is very low and no special technical knowledge is needed to get started. If you're ready to give podcasting a try, you'll need a few basic pieces in place:
- Equipment: All you really need is a decent microphone, a computer, and a quiet place to record audio.
- Hosting: While it's ideal to have a website, all you really have to have to get started is hosting for your audio files. Check out Soundcloud, TuneIn, and Libsyn for some of the best podcast hosting services on the web.
- A plan: Don't just hit record and start talking. Plan your podcast before you record it.
It really is that simple. If you're ready to get started, check out this article for additional tips and resources to help you get started on the right foot.