What Is a Podcast?
Many radio shows offer podcasts of their episodes, but what is a podcast, and what does it mean to 'subscribe' to one?
Q: I have a question. What is a podcast? I listen to your show all the time on the website, and you keep saying to subscribe to the podcast. I hear other public radio shows talk about getting their podcast on the web too, but what is a podcast, and how do I "subscribe" to it? I thought the podcast was the show I was listening to on the website. How am I supposed to subscribe to it? Are you going to mail it to my house or drop it off next to the newspaper? Forgive me for sounding stupid, but I don't understand.
A: Thanks for your email. Ooh, this is our first anonymous writer! Well, "Subscribe me confused", you don't need to be anonymous if you are embarrassed for not knowing what a podcast is, and you're certainly not stupid for not knowing. In fact, even your hosts here didn't know what a podcast was only a few years ago. In fact, podcasts didn't even exist until as recently as 2005. A podcast is simply a broadcast to your media player. The term podcast is derived from the brand name iPod, Apple's MP3 player, but that doesn't really matter now. Almost any device that can play music and/or videos can receive a podcast including most MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets.
Subscribing to a podcast means that you will automatically get the latest episode of the show that you listen to without you having to do anything. It works like On Demand works on your TV. You can listen or watch the podcast when and where you want to, and because it happens automatically, you don't have to remember to check the website to see if a new episode has been posted.
To subscribe to a podcast you need a program or app called a podcatcher; the most popular one is iTunes. To subscribe to a podcast in iTunes you can either search for the name of the podcast you are looking for like "Deemable Tech," or you can click a special link that takes you right to the podcast in iTunes, like Deemable Tech's iTunes link. Then, iTunes will pull up the podcast listing and you can click "Subscribe" to have the podcast automatically downloaded to your computer or your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. If you have an Android phone or a media player that isn't made by Apple, you can either use a program like DoubleTwist to sync your device with iTunes, or you can use a different podcatcher like Pocket Casts or Stitcher for Android or Juice for Windows, Mac or Linux. Other podcatcher apps may not have directories like iTunes does. In that case, you may need to know the RSS feed address of the show that you are looking for. Ours is http://dmbl.co/pod.
If you love listening to public radio or talk radio, you will love podcasts. Almost all of the shows on NPR, PRI and APM and most talk radio shows have podcasts, and there are a plethora of shows, like Deemable Tech, that you might not find on your local radio station. Also, subscribing to the shows that you love helps support those shows. The more subscribers that a show has, the higher up that show will be listed in the iTunes podcast directory, which means that more listeners will find the show and start listening! So, go subscribe to Deemable Tech's podcast, and then check out all of the other shows out there.