What is a Podcast?

The Voodoo Thing

This originally published here on 3 August, 2005.  I am rather amazed at how little the general public’s understanding of a podcast (or netcast) has changed.  I think I might have to rant on this topic more again in the near future, especially since iOS is now going to (finally!) include podcatching software by default.

shure mic
shure mic (Photo credit: John “Lumpy” Lemke)

I have been doing a “podcast” a week now for about a two months now. I am amazed at how most people gaze at me as if I am some type of dark-voodoo practicing witch doctor when I use the term “podcast”. There seems to be several areas of confusion and/or misunderstanding. A partial list would include:

1. Podcast are some type of high-tech technobable that only a web savy geek with an Einstienian IQ could comprehend.
2. Special equipment and software are needed to use this technology.
3. A podcast is some type of special audio format, which requires all of the above to play

I would like to spend a few screens of text and de-mystify these three points. I assure you that even I, Ultra-Perma-n00b, Also known as Lumpy, is able to do so. Therefore, it can’t be so hard.

Using the references here, you should be able to easily find, save and listen to podcasts. So please stop dowsing me with holy water.

Myth Number One – You need be a super genius geek to listen to this stuff.

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français :...
English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français : Icône pour les podcasts ou la baladodiffusion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is absolutely not true. If you can surf the internet and/or operate a radio, you can listen to podcast. In fact, Lumpy is confident that he could teach most monkeys to download podcasts. It really is as simple as point and click.

This Video (link now dead) shows us all just how simple it is. The video is only three minutes long and tells you all you need to start listening.

An IRC friend did a great guide to getting pod cast and is also nice enough to share his list of podcasts.

There are many, many places to find podcasts. In the very near future we will have a list of podcast directories in the left hand column of this site.

Myth Number Two – You need special software to listen to this stuff.

This is also not entirely true. If you have a media player, you can point, click and listen. Podcasts are nothing more than media files. If you can watch video and listen to audio on your PC, you can listen to and/or watch podcasts. If you wish to automatically download the newest version of your podcast, then you will need some software.

There are several good programs available for this. Lumpy’s personal choice is Doppler. (Now that I am all Linux, I use gPodder.)

Myth Number Three – This is some special heeby jeeby geeky format.

Well, yes and no… As I mentioned above, podcast files are nothing more than media files, but they do have RSS associated with them. It is this RSS that allows the above mentioned software to know when a new podcast has been released.

Short of that it is just an audio or video file.

Now get out there and listen. If you have any questions, I would be glad to reply. Send my a message at noise-at-radiostatic{dot}am.