Podcasting for Dummies: A Quick Introduction

By: Brigid Coyne

About five years ago my friend sent me a podcast about the novel, Brave New World, so I hit play and loved it! The podcast was so interesting that as soon as it was over, I immediately went to the library and picked up the book. However, four years and about as many podcasts later, I was still pretty uncertain as to what a “podcast” even was. Sure, I had the vague concept that it was some form of audio, but that was about where my knowledge ended. Since then, I’ve obviously learned a lot about podcasting! Now I help produce, edit and publish them here at The Front Porch People, and I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned.

The concept might be pretty confusing to some, so before explaining what a podcast is, let’s look at the current music consumption trends which serve nicely as a metaphor for podcasting.Radio is getting lower ratings each year as more and more people turn to the internet to stream and download music from iTunes, Pandora and Spotify. No longer do we have to turn the dial every time there is a commercial break while listening to music. No longer do we have to hear the same annoying song three times in an hour. We are able to listen to the music we choose, when and where we choose to listen to it! Music has moved away from radio to a more on-demand format.

In much the same way, we can understand podcasts. A podcast is basically the online version of talk radio. More accurately, the word podcast comes from a combination of the terms “iPod” and “broadcast.” Thus a podcast is simply an audio broadcast intended for use on an iPod or other media device such as your phone or laptop. Just as you can download or stream your favorite music to your phone, you can download and stream your favorite talk shows. Podcasts enable you to listen to the entertainment you choose, when and where you choose to listen to it! News and sports talk are following the music trend, and moving from radio to a more on-demand format: podcasts.

Because podcasts are easily published online by anyone, this creates a whole new world of entertainment. You’re no longer stuck listening to the same five hosts discuss sports and politics every day. Now you can find a commentator who agrees with you politically! Or maybe politics and sports aren’t your thing, and that’s okay, because podcasts cover all kinds of topics! For example, The Front Porch People have shows that cover movies, literature, comedy and music.

Here’s a list of our favorite podcasting networks to help you get started:

Like I said, I didn’t really start seriously listening to podcasts until this year, but it was definitely a great decision. I highly recommend you listen to some today, starting with our own podcast about Brave New World:

You can easily find more Novel Conversations podcasts on our website, where it is extremely simple to stream podcasts. If you've never listened to one before, websites are the simplest way to start. Typically, all you need to do is press the play button, and the episode will begin (check out our What's So Funny! page for an example of this). It is very similar to searching a YouTube video and pressing play, except there is no video to accompany the sound. We recommend finding a few podcasts on any of the websites listed above!

However, listening via websites mean you have to search for a new episode every time you would like to listen to a podcast. If you're feeling more ambitious, try subscribing to a podcast on iTunes or Google Play. Subscribing means that episodes will automatically download to your phone or laptop as soon as they are published. For help subscribing, read this article about iTunes or this article about Google Play.

Social media is last way for podcast beginners to stay in the know. You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter to receive direct links to our blogs and podcasts. It's also an easy way to ask us questions or join in on discussions about the shows. Most other networks can be found on these social sites, and they can be a great way to stay connected to hosts and other fans.

We hope you understand how great on-demand listening is, and we encourage you to find your new favorite show. Happy listening!


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