What Is Podcasting?

The value of making a podcast or tuning in to one

The world of podcasts and podcasting sprung about in 2004 with portable media devices like iPods and continued to strengthen with the accessibility of smartphones. Podcasts are digital media files, most often audio, but they can be video as well, which are produced in a series. You can subscribe to a series of files, or a podcast, by using a podcasting application called a podcatcher. You can listen or view podcasts on your iPod, smartphone or computer.

Podcatchers such as iCatcher!, Downcast and iTunes are popular because they are designed for use with smartphones, which makes podcasts virtually accessible to most everyone with the device. Podcast listeners often tune in while driving, commuting, walking or working out.

Benefit of Subscribing to a Podcast

If there is a particular show or series that you are interested in and subscribe to, your podcatcher can periodically check to see if any new files have been published and if so, can automatically download the file or notify you of new content. 

The Attraction of Podcasts

Podcasting attracts people who want the ability to choose their own content. Unlike radio or television broadcasts that have set programming at certain hours, you are not locked into programming on their schedule. If you are familiar with TiVo or other digital video recorders, it is the same premise, in which you can select the show or series you like to record, then enable the recorder to download those programs and then watch whenever you want. Many people like the convenience of always having fresh material loaded on their devices, which enables them to listen to a podcast at their convenience.

Podcasts for Specialized Interests

Podcasts are also a great way for people to hook into content that is of a particular special interest. For example, there may be a show about collecting glass beads, dressing for Comicon or perfecting your rose garden. There are thousands of podcasts on these and plus other highly specific topics along with communities of people who listen, respond and care deeply about these areas of interest.

Many consider podcasting as an alternative to commercial radio and TV because the low cost of producing a podcast allows more voices and viewpoints to be heard. Also, unlike TV and radio, which produce programs for mass consumption, podcasts are “narrowcasts,” where only those interested in a certain topic seek out programs and sign up to listen. These are topics that most often can be considered too obscure for traditional broadcasters to cover.

Meet the Podcasters

Anyone can be a podcaster. Podcasting is an easy and powerful way to communicate your ideas and messages. You can potentially reach anyone with a broadband connection who is searching for podcasts and subscribes to your show. People who start podcasts usually want to deliver their content in a series, stretched out over a period of time. There is minimal equipment and start up costs if you already own a computer, and so this allows anyone who ever dreamed of owning a radio station the chance to transmit their ideas far beyond the reach of a radio transmitter.

Podcasters often start shows with the intention of building online communities and often solicit comments and feedback on their programs. Through blogs, groups and forums, listeners and producers can interact.

Businesses and marketers have hooked into the fact that podcasting is a less expensive way to advertise to groups with very specific interests. Many large companies are starting to produce podcasts to communicate with their customers and their employees.