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What is a podcast?

Question:  I’ve been hearing the buzzword “podcast” lately.  What exactly is that?

Answer:  A podcast is a media file that you can subscribe to (usually audio rather than video) that changes on a regular basis.  Think of a podcast as a recurrently airing radio show or similar commentary.  Podcasting is the act of subscribing to or listening to a podcast.

Podcasting is becoming an increasingly popular method of delivering daily or weekly audio content to an audience that might not be able to tune in or attend exactly when the event occurs.  Since there are no VCR’s or DVR’s for audio, podcasting has been born and is growing in popularity very quickly.

The name podcasting comes from a combination of iPod and broadcasting.  Apple has grasped and ran with this idea of providing such content to the masses.  They have tightly integrated podcasting technology into their iTunes software, which allows you to search for and subscribe to podcasts.  Microsoft has a similar software called Zune.  Both Zune and iTunes have basically the same fundamental abilities.  Of course, some people may prefer one to the other.

More radio shows, church sermons, and likewise audio oriented media outlets are turning to podcasting the same way newsletters are being sent out using the print media.  You can subscribe to a podcast most of the time for no charge at all.  Once subscribed to, a podcast will automatically update with the latest provided content for that particular podcast.  When it’s downloaded into your iTunes or Zune client, you can transfer it to an electronic audio player such as an MP3 player or similar device or just listen to it on your computer.

If there is a show that you like to listen to on the radio, or anything regularly put out in audio format, you may want to check to see if there is an available podcast.  It would be best to check the official web site for that particular show.

The real appeal to podcasts is the ability to listen at your convenience.  In most cases you can download a podcast or a group of podcasts and listen while you are riding a bus, jogging, or any other activity in which you would typically listen to music.

Look for more information and technology to become available related to podcasting.  I really think it’s just beginning how we may use it, and where it ends up nobody knows for sure.

Posted on February 23rd 2013