What is Podcasting?
Below is a definition of
podcasting (pulled from Wikipedia.org) that provides information about
podcasting. It might seem a bit dry, but hang in there – it gets better.
Podcasting is a term
that describes the technology used to push audio content from websites down to
consumers of that content, who typically listen to it on their iPod (hence the
"pod") or other audio player that supports the mp3 music format. The term
podcasting is meant to rhyme with broadcasting and is a derivative of the iPod
platform. While not directly associated with Apple's iPod device or iTunes music
service, the company did contribute both the desire and the technology for this
capability. Note, however, that this technology can be used to push any kind of
file, including software updates, pictures and videos.
This is where it gets
technical. Podcasting uses a technology called Really Simple Syndication, or RSS.
Content publishers describe new content in an RSS file, which includes dates,
titles, descriptions and links to MP3 files. This auto-generated file is called
an RSS feed.
What makes podcasting
special is that it allows individuals to publish (podcast) radio shows, to which
interested listeners can subscribe. Before podcasting you could, of course,
record a radio show and put it on your website, but now people can automatically
receive new shows without having to go to a specific site and download it from
Listeners can retain
audio archives to listen to at their leisure. While blogs have turned many
bloggers into journalists, podcasting has the potential to turn podcasters into
Similar to a radio talk
show, podcasts can also take the format of an interview. Topics range from
business to hobbies; even rants and obsessions. Lengths vary, but a typical
podcast will run anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes (though I have seen some
longer). So far, there are not many music podcasts due to the red tape and cost
of music licensing, although musicians and/or small record labels bypass that
issue by utilizing their own recordings.
Podcasting can be used
for self-guided walking tours, music, entertainment shows, organizational news,
training and story telling. Or, as the "Ask a Ninja" video podcast summarizes,
"Podcasting is a factory that produces apple pies for whales." (You will
understand after you visit
Although podcasting is
new, it is well on its way to becoming a mainstream communication medium. This
emerging method of audio-file distribution has opened an array of marketing and
communication opportunities to businesses. Currently, most that are familiar
with podcasting are technically savvy, but it is clear that podcasting will be
more than a passing fad as businesses adopt podcasting and employ it in powerful
Podcasts usually publish
descriptive information about each audio file. This allows listeners to make a
determination of which audio items are of interest. Listeners will automatically
receive updates in their feed-reader software when a new podcast exists for a
feed to which they have subscribed.
radio, with podcasting, the subscriber decides what content he/she receives.
Podcasting is extremely useful to the subscriber because the user can easily
receive information he/she would like, and listen to it when they want. The
material, once downloaded, can be listened to and viewed on wireless handhelds,
allowing subscribers to utilize time on the road.
talk shows with commentaries, interviews and debates can now be heard at a time
and place of the listener's choosing. The fate of podcasting is in the hands of
the subscribers. The subscriber can easily delete podcast feeds that do not
satisfy their needs with the single tap of a button. Ultimately, the subscriber
maintains control and determines what podcasts are deemed successful.
How Do You Podcast?
If you want to start
your own podcast, it is relatively cheap and easy to do so. The first thing you
will need to do is find some good audio-recording software for your computer.
Many packages are available free-of-charge, such as Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net).
Next, you are going to
want to rehearse your material. Remember, most podcasts are about 10-20 minutes
in length. If you've never attempted something like this before, you should
first subscribe to other podcasts to see how long they run and how they organize
Once you've recorded
your material in electronic format you will need a place to store the files.
Sites such as Switchpod (www.switchpod.com) offer free hosting and
generous storage space. If you want to upgrade your service, the rate plans are
very reasonable. Once the audio files are posted, you will have a page people
can visit to download the files and subscribe to future episodes. Sites such as
these also offer a wealth of information and optional extras to help make your
Podcast a success.
There are also tools to
help you spread the word about your new show. When you create your Podcast, you
can add keywords and descriptions that will attract interested listeners. This
information is then posted to the Google of podcasting, iTunes (www.itunes.com), as well as a number of other podcast directories.
With podcasting so
affordable, it is a powerful marketing tool whose application is only limited by
your imagination. The podcast revolution is still growing as new people begin
using the technology and existing users search for new and interesting content.