Over the past year I’ve become an avid podcast listener. As a result, I’ve noticed that conversations with friends frequently revolve around great podcasts we’ve discovered recently. We share notes about new and interesting programs in the same way we talk about good books that we’ve read, or would like to read. It’s all enormously entertaining and endlessly fascinating if you’re the type of person who likes interesting ideas (and since you’re reading this blog, that probably includes you).
Quite often though, one of my friends will tell me that although they’ve heard about podcasts, they either don’t know where to start or what to listen to, so I’ve decided to write a little beginners guide for all of you who fit into this category.
Lets start with what a podcast actually is
Basically, podcasts are like radio programs that you can listen to whenever or wherever you choose. It’s like radio ‘on demand’ but the program choices are much wider. Some podcasts feature people rambling on about stuff that they are interested in, others feature in-depth interviews, discussions, comedy and so on. There’s a strong focus on storytelling in many podcasts.
Podcasts are even more intimate than radio because you choose to listen by subscribing. (We’ll get to how to do this in a moment). Podcasts are cheap to produce, meaning that anyone can make their own radio show. This means that the quality varies, but also means that you can find quirky little shows about pretty much anything you are interested in.
Like good radio, the best podcasts are quite well-produced and easy to listen to. They vary in length from 10 minutes to around an hour, although there are some longer ones. The format makes them ideal for people who walk or commute. I often listen to them at night if I’m having trouble sleeping.
Best of all, podcasts are FREE. They cost nothing to download, except for internet access of course.
How do you listen to a podcast?
Listening is easy. You just need a computer or a smart-phone. Apple devices have a built in podcasting app, which is very convenient.
In researching this post, I came across this wonderful and easy to understand description of how to access a podcast.
How to listen
What should you listen to?
If you use iTunes to find new podcasts, you can easily become overwhelmed. The link I’ve posted above tells you how to subscribe to Serial, a very successful podcast that’s been downloaded more than 5 million times from iTunes, but is actually not my favorite, so I’m not recommending that one.
I would start with this one produced by BBC Radio 4 called In Pod We Trust. Listen to the first episode called Welcome to Podland where Miranda Sawyer talks to podcaster Helen Zaltzman. Helen has a show about language called The Allusionist. You can find episodes of the Allusionist on iTunes or from the show’s website.
My third recommendation is 99% Invisible which is about the design of every day things. My son recommended this show to me and it’s still one of my favorites.
What about you?
I have quite a few other podcasts that I’d like to share, but I’m interested in discovering what you’ve been listening to?
Have you come across any good ones lately? Please share!