Welcome to the New Media Revolution!
What is a Podcast?
Podcasting is a revolution in media, often called “new media“. It is sort of like radio on the Internet but with some special advantages. A podcast is an audio file that you can take with you on your MP3 player and listen to any time you want. Podcasts allow you to listen to the content you choose, at the time of your choosing. Plus you can fast forward, rewind, and pause any time you want. Try that with your car radio, not!
I am so addicted to podcasting that I never listen to terrestrial radio stations on the car radio anymore, ever. I even took the antenna off so my car adapter (it lets me hear my player on the car radio) would work better. (update – Jan 2010 – I now have a 2007 Ford F150 that has an AUX plug on the radio. Now I use a patch cord from the headphone jack of the ipod straight into the AUX jack. Highly recommended!)
What do you need to listen to a podcast?
1. A MP3 Player
You can listen directly at the website but that kind of ties you down to one place and it negates the advantage of listening wherever and whenever you want to . If you want to be mobile you need an MP3 player. Of course the “mac daddy” of MP3 players is the iPod and iPhone family of products from Apple. They work with Apple or Windows computers. The new kid on the block is the Microsoft Zune which only works with Windows computers. And then there are a host of other MP3 players like SanDisk Sansa, Creative, and more. They range in price from $30.00 to several hundred. (we own the iPhone, the ipod, the Zune, a Creative Muvo and a Cowan iAudio7 <for sale!>). If you buy an MP3 player that is not an iPod or Zune, make sure you get one that can act like a flash drive. That makes the software issue easier (see below). Some even say “podcastready” on the box, which is exactly what you need.
2. Some Software
You also need some software. iTunes runs on both Mac and Windows, and if you have an iPod it is arguably the only software you can use.
If you have a Zune, then you need the software that came with it.
If you have another MP3 player then my recommendation is the software (free) from www.podcastready.com. They have a great little program called myPodder that installs on your player. All you do is plug the player into your USB port and your favorite shows are downloaded to your player automatically. The software is also platform independent, it runs on Mac, Windows and Linux.
3. A Subscription
So now you have the software and the hardware, all you need is a subscription so that your favorite shows will â€˜automagically’ appear on your player. Most blogs that host podcasts have subscription buttons right on the blog. You just click the button and the subscription happens automatically. Of course you need to know about the options in the software your are using, such as the number of shows to keep on the device etc.
You can also use any of the software packages to actually search out podcasts on topics that interest you. Once you find one, use the function in your software to subscribe to it.
In the Car
There are adapters you can purchase for any player that allows it to be heard on your car radio speakers. You connect to your device via the earphone jack. You tune your radio to an unused area on the band (like 88.3) and the adapter, which is actually a miniature radio transmitter, broadcasts your podcast to your radio. Some radios today even have an ipod plug right on the front of the radio. If you use the adapter approach it may help reception to completely retract or even remove your car antenna so it doesn’t get interference from nearby radio stations. Newer cars have an AUX input so all you need is a patch cable between the headphone jack of your MP3 player straight into the Aux jack of the car radio.
One final word
Podcasting is a hobby for many and big business for others. Some may have advertising to help pay the bills (we do). A good quality podcast is not cheap to make. The hobbyists tend to do a few shows and then fade away (called podfade) after a few months, so always pay attention to the date of the most recent show in your software. This will tell you if it is still current. As for the advertising, if it is embedded the podcast, guess what? All MP3 players have a fast forward button
There are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts to choose from, but only a few hundred that have the bulk of all the subscribers. These few hundred are truly the internet stars in the podcasting space. Some of my heroes are Leo Laporte (This Week in Tech, and moreâ€¦), Todd Chochrane (Geek News Central) , Andy McCaskey (SDR News) , the simply awesome team of Tom Merrit, Molly Wood and Jason Howell (Cnet Buzz Out Loud) , Veronica Belmont, Cali Lewis (Geek Brief), & Mike Smith (Mike Tech Show). I have learned a TON of information listening to these shows for a while.
Now it’s your turn. Join the new media revolution and start exploring the rich independent content that is all over the internet.
Tech help needed? Email me.