What is a Podcast? PDF Print E-mail
Written by ComicBookGoddess   
Saturday, 19 September 2009 23:35

SSDWC Media Presents:  Questions Frequently Asked about Podcasts

The Question

  1. I don't know anything about any of this stuff, and I don't want to.  All I want to do is listen to this show.  What's the easiest way to do it?
    You usually can play the file right from the podcast's web page.  Try this:
    1. Look for a button on the button that says "Play" or is shaped like the play button on your VCR.  Press it.
    2. Look for a link that says "Click here" or "Play here".  Press it.
    3. If there is no button, try clicking on the title of the episode.  It may bring up a page just with the episode, or it may bring up the episode's audio file in your browser and start playing automatically.  If it brings up a page with just the episode, repeat steps 1 and 2.
    4. If steps 1 through 3 don't work, look for a button that says "subscribe" or "rss feed".  Click on it and see if the episode you wish to listen to is on the list.  Try steps 1 through 3 again.
  2. Will it automatically download new episodes for me, then?
    No.  If you want it to do that, I suggest you download and install iTunes.  It's the most famous program to use to listen to podcasts, which means that there is the most help out there for you to get it running easily.  You can get it, and instructions, from the Apple website.  
  3. That's just to listen from my computer, I thought you could take it with you and listen later? What's the easiest way to do that?
    Install iTunes, and buy an iPod to connect to it.
  4. Is this the only way to get a podcast?
You asked for the easiest way for somebody who doesn't want to know any more, and that's what we think is easiest!  If you want more options, or want it cheaper, read on!

More Questions

  1. What is a podcast?
    A podcast is a series of audio (or video) files that is delivered to subscribers over the internet.
  2. What kind of audio files?
    They can use any kind, but most people use MP3. MP3s take up little space and most people can play them.
  3. Can they use other files?
    Yes, they can use any other kinds of audio files, or even video and PDF files.  They're taking a chance that their listeners may not be able to  play them, though.  The most popular other file is AAC, which is a special format from Apple that takes up a little less space.
  4. What DO I need to listen to a podcast?
    An internet connection, a podcast address, and something to play the podcast on.
  5. How are they delivered?
    With most software, if it's set up and you are "subscribed" (signed up) to the podcast, the files are downloaded to your computer automatically. 
  6. But how does the computer know to download them?
    Ok, this is going to get a bit technical.  A files for the podcast are listed in a special file called an 'RSS feed'.  Special software called an "aggregator", "podcatcher", or "feed reader" automatically checks the RSS feed from time to time for new files.  Depending on the software, it either downloads them automatically or notifies you they're ready so that you can download them.
  7. How do you subscribe a podcast?
    You can subscribe in a program called an "aggregator", "feed reader" or "podcatcher".  iTunes is the most famous of these. 
  8. It's called podcasting.  Don't I need an iPod or iTunes?
    No.  You do not need an iPod.   There are lots of ways to play podcasts - you can even play them right on your computer or internet phone!  As time goes by, people come up with more ways to listen to podcasts.  Here are some combinations of things you can use, right now, to play a podcast:
    1. iPhone or iPod touch and internet service
    2. Microsoft Zune and Wi-Fi internet service
    3. Computer with sound card and speakers and internet service
    4. Computer and MP3 player and internet service
    5. TiVo and television or stereo receiver and internet service
  9. Oh.  Sounds like you need internet service.
    Dude, give me a break.  If you don't already have internet service, how did you get to this webpage?
  10. What if I want to use a handheld device but I hate iPod?
    You can buy any kind of MP3 player.  Apple's not the only one that makes them, you can get them from Microsoft, Creative, Coby, hundreds of companies.  They come in all sizes, capacities, and prices - I've even seen down to $20!  I would beware the cheap ones, though.  Many of the cheaper MP3 players may work just fine, but they are nearly guaranteed to be a LOT harder to use.
  11. Does listening to the podcast cost me any money?
  12. Really? 
    Oh, all right.  A few corporate podcasts - mostly people like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh - charge money.  But they'll try to get money from you first, they won't be sneaking it up on you.
  13. How do the podcasters make money then? 
    Many of them don't - they just love doing it.  Some take advertising (and many more would like to take it).  Some are using the podcast to promote their business.  Some take donations. 
  14. Why do it, then?
    Because the sky is (usually) blue, and the mountain is (usually) there.
Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2009 01:31