Home Internet What is podcasting: An intro for dummies

What is podcasting: An intro for dummies

What is podcasting

As trends in technology advance, more and more types of media have become available. Traditional newspapers and magazines have opted to create online editions of their content in order to compete with online media, such as blogs and podcasts. Podcasts are a particularly popular type of online media, partially because just about anyone can make one. Free audio and video podcasts are available in every subject imaginable. Podcasting is relatively easy to do and does not require extensive computer knowledge.


In simple terms, podcasts are audio video files available for free download from the Internet. Podcasts can be compared to TV or radio programs, in the sense that they usually feature “episodes” on a regular basis revolving around a specific topic or theme. Most podcasts are in MP3, MP4, MPEG, AVI, MOV or MV4 file format. You can listen to or watch podcasts on an MP3 player or computer. Podcasts can range from two to three minutes to an hour or more in length.

Types of Podcasts

Podcasts exist for just about every topic imaginable ranging from talk programs and news to entertainment and how-to tutorials. Many popular website produce some form of podcast offering different content than what is available online. Podcasting has become so popular that many celebrities and government officials have their own podcasts, including the White House. As of 2011, audio and video are the two types of podcasts available.

Subscribing to Podcasts

Due to the fact that the word “podcast” refers to Apple’s iPod MP3 player, the majority of podcasts can be found on Apple’s iTunes Store. However, a variety of podcast directories also list available video and audio podcasts in a range of subjects. To subscribe to a podcast in iTunes, copy the link for the RSS feed of the podcast and paste it into, “Subscribe to podcast,” which can be found under “Advanced” in the top menu bar. Other podcasting tools are available for subscribing to podcasts, but the majority of podcasts will redirect you to iTunes when you click, “Subscribe.”

Creating Podcasts

The easiest way to create a podcast is by using podcasting software with a webcam or microphone. Podcasting software generally lets you record and edit episodes. Both free and paid podcasting software applications are available for Mac and Windows. Optimizing podcasts to be found on the web is a little more complicated, but anyone can submit their podcast to podcast directories or Apple’s iTunes Store.

Podcasts: Some Recommendations

The variety and amount of podcasts available to all of us with an internet connection and a computer can be daunting. Not everyone has the time to search the world wide web for content that speaks specifically to them. And looking beyond the staff picks of the individual country sites can take time, as described in a recent article on Podcasts: Free For All The Article also explains where and how to find relevant podcasts.

This most ardent podcast fan has compiled six podcasts that are listened to religiously and hopes the reader might enjoy them as well.

Six Podcasts about History, Politics, Culture and Films

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Podcast

Dan Carlin describes himself as an amateur historian, martian and outside-the-box thinker. He does it with so much gusto and exuberance, covering eras from the Punic Wars to the Fall of the Roman Empire, individual battles of WWII and loads more. New “Hardcore History” podcasts appear about every four weeks.

Dan Carlin’s Common Sense Podcast

Dan Carlin also does politics and current events. He is not affiliated with any broadcast company. He describes his political association as “independent” i. e. no ties to the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party. New “Common Sense” podcasts on a two-to-three week cycle.

Slate Culture Gabfest Podcast

This is a weekly podcast. New podcasts are downloadable on Tuesday nights, PST. It’s a round table discussion between Slate Magazine contributors Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens and Julia Turner (the regulars) and occasional guests. The podcast runs for about 45 minutes and covers three to four topics: movies, books, academia news and relevant pop cultural news. The entertainment value of their discussions is huge. All the contributors are super smart, insightful and extremely articulate ( in plain talk: all the words you have to look up – these guys use them in full sentences without sounding pompous or stuck up).

Keith Olbermann’s Countdown Audio Podcast

Keith Olbermann’s show “Countdown” runs weeknights at 5PM, EST on cable. The video and audio podcast of the show, without commercial interruption, is available for download approximately 3 hours after the show airs live. US and International politics and other oddities provide the substance. One regular feature is the “Worse, Worser, Worst Person in the World”. His “special comments” insightful and passionate.

Rachel Maddow Show Audio Podcast

If some of the daily politics are difficult to understand, Rachel is the go-to girl for breaking it down and explaining it in a clear, concise way. The Rachel Maddow show is also a weekday daily cable news show. The 45-minute show is downloadable around 8PM EST.

Mark Kermode’s Film Review BBC5

This very eclectic film review radio show is every Friday, 3PM GMT. You can also listen live via the web and tweet comments during the live broadcast. The podcast is available a few hours later.

The film reviews are based on the release schedules for the UK. Blockbusters usually have a world wide release therefore coincide with the US release dates. Smaller films, indie films often appear in the UK sooner, giving any film fan the edge and knowledge what to look out for.

Mark Kermode’s style reminds me of Keith Olbermann i.e. The Good Doctor, as he is affectionately known as, is extremely passionate about his profession, plus he has the Brit bonus: natural comedic talent. The repartee with co-host Simon Mayo makes this an extremely entertaining podcast.