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What Is Podcasting? – Podcasting 101

As Internet based technologies have continued to improve and enhance our ability to communicate with one another globally, a transformation of the radio show form of media was destined to occur. The Internet world's form of broadcasting, known as podcasting, is the new face of radio journalism in a technology driven era. Despite podcasting's continued existence since 2004, many people are still unaware of what podcasts are and how podcasts can be obtained and listened to, a problem that can easily be addressed by following a few quick steps.

What Is A Podcast?

A podcast, simply put, is no different than a webcast, a show that is broadcast over the web and is broken up into parts or episodes. Most podcasts are similar to news radio programs and deliver information on a regular basis, while some podcasts are comedy shows, special music broadcasts or even gospel. Podcasts are most popular on Apple's iPod and iPhone devices, hence the name podcast, but a podcast can be enjoyed from a number of different sources and can even be listened to directly on a computer.

Using Podcasts in iTunes

For those who own Apple devices like iPods or are simply interested in enjoying podcasts from the computer, obtaining Apple's iTunes is an important first step. Apple offers free downloads of the iTunes software on their website if it is not already installed. An iTunes account must also be registered in order to access the online podcast library and other Internet based features of iTunes.

After iTunes has been initially set up podcasts can be downloaded directly in iTunes. Click on the Podcast Directory link to begin viewing the library of available podcasts. Click on any relevant podcast to expand it and see the episode listing. Single episodes may be selected or the entire podcast may be played by double-clicking on the podcast.

To find a specific podcast in iTunes, click on the arrow next to the Podcast Directory button. After clicking the arrow, type your search for the author, subject, or title of the podcast into the search box in the left column or at the top right of the iTunes screen.

Interested in saving a podcast? Clicking the Source button gives listeners a list of older podcasts that can be downloaded and saved in the iTunes library. Users can also configure options to determine how often new episodes should be downloaded making it easy to keep up to date with all of a listener's favorite podcasts.

Syncing Podcasts With an iPod

Podcast listeners wanting to get their podcast fix on the go can use iTunes to quickly and easily sync their podcasts with their Apple device. After subscribing to podcasts, plug an Apple device into the computer running iTunes. After iTunes recognizes the device, click on the device's icon in the left-hand column to access the device settings. Clicking on the podcast tab will present the user with number of options to configure which podcasts should be synced to the device every time the device is connected and which podcasts should be automatically updated, making podcasts easy to manage in the device's library. Users may even specify how many episodes of each podcast they want to keep synced with the device at any given time, helping conserve disk space on the iPod.

After syncing podcasts with an iPod, they can be accessed in the iPod's library under the "Podcast" directory and can be played just like any music file stored on the device.

Using Podcasts With Other Media Player Software

Some users prefer to listen to their podcasts with software alternatives to iTunes. To listen to podcasts located on iTunes in another media player, right-click on any podcast in iTunes and select the "Copy Podcast URL" option. This URL can be copied into the address bar of most media players. For podcasts found elsewhere on the Internet, simply right click the link to the podcast and choose to "Copy Link Information" to obtain another URL that can be copied to other media players.

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