Yes, it’s true. I’m passionate about podcasts and you should be too! How passionate am I? I listen to them every day. Podcasts are a great way to learn and be entertained while you’re driving, doing chores or exercising (kind of like audiobooks).
So, what is a podcast and why should I listen to them?
A podcast is like an audio or video blog. You can either listen to a single podcast or subscribe. Podcasts cover every topic you can imagine (kind of like blogs). Podcasts can be recorded by a team of hosts or a single podcaster.
Podcasts are free (mostly, there are some premium podcasts that charge but the vast majority are free).
Podcasts can teach. Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Have a hankering to learn Italian but don’t have time for a course? Subscribe to a podcast that teaches Italian and you will learn the language with great pronunciation. Learn your new Italian words in the car as you commute to work. The traffic jams won’t seem nearly as long!
Two Wonder of Tech readers, Bill Dorman and Riley Harrison recently wrote blog posts on how important it is to keep learning beyond your school years. Both blogs are definitely worth checking out, you can find them here: I’ve learned too much; my head hurts and LEARNING HOW TO LEARN IS PRETTY IMPORTANT LEARNING. Both of these brilliant writers stress the importance of using learning to grow as a person (though in very different ways). A great way to follow their sage advice is by listening podcasts!
Keep up with current information by listening to news and business podcasts. Don’t have time to read journals in your area of expertise? See if there is a podcast on the subject.
Podcasts can be also be fun. Check out podcasts on movies, hobbies, and any other topic you can imagine! Escape to a tropical beach by listening to a travel podcast. Commiserate on the latest episode of your favorite reality show by listening to an interview of the contestant who was eliminated. Listen to a podcast on relaxation to help you unwind at the end of a long day.
What sorts of topics do podcasts cover?
You name the topic, there is probably a podcast on it.
Have a favorite tv show you love to follow? Chances are there’s a podcast for the show. Or check out general podcasts like EW’s Inside TV (with Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross and Anne Barrett), Rob Has a Podcast (by former Survivor Amazon contestant Rob Cesternino), or Daytime Confidential (for daytime dramas).
Have a favorite hobby? Chances are there is a podcast on the topic, such as the Geocaching Podcast or Running Times.
Love comedy? Lots of comedians have podcasts. Check out Real Time with Bill Maher, The Adam Carolla Show and Onion Radio News.
Want to catch up on the news? Check out Anderson Cooper’s AC 360 video podcast or NBC Nightly News which is a podcast of each night’s episode. You can catch the first hour of the Today Show in a video podcast as well.
Do you enjoy books? Check out Slate’s Audio Book Club podcast and BBC’s World Book Club (interviews famous authors from around the world about their favorite novels). Also check out Science Fiction author Scott Sigler who releases his audiobooks as podcasts for free, one chapter at a time.
Want to learn history? Check out The History of Rome or The British History podcast.
Want to learn Farmville tips and Tricks? Check out Secrets of Farmville by Father Roderick, a Catholic priest from The Netherlands (I’m not kidding, it’s a great podcast, though inconsistent in its updates).
Did I mention all of this knowledge comes free?
For more podcast inspiration, check out the winners of the 2010 Podcast Awards
What do I need to listen to podcasts? I don’t have a smartphone or an iPod!
No worries. To listen to podcasts, all you need is a computer. If you have an smartphone, iPod or other MP3 device, then you can listen to podcasts on the go. But all you really need is a computer. You can download podcasts to your computer for free.
When you discover a podcast you want to listen to, it’s like striking gold. You will want to subscribe! The best way to subscribe is through a podcatcher. I know, that sounds like science fiction, but a podcatcher is nothing more than software that will download the most recent episodes of podcasts for you so you don’t have to go out hunting for them.
If you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, iTunes is your podcatcher. There are others on the market but you don’t need them. When you open iTunes it will sync your podcasts. Connect your device to your computer after the latest podcast episodes have finished downloading and iTunes will sync the latest episodes of your podcasts to your device. It couldn’t be easier.
If you are away from your computer, but want to download the latest podcast from your computer onto your iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch), no problem!
Go to iPod on your iOS device and find the podcast you want to update. Click on Get More Episodes. This will take you to the iTunes listing for that podcast. Click Download to start downloading the episode to your device.
Be careful, though, if you are not connected to Wi-Fi. There is a 10MB limit on downloading data over 3G and most podcasts are over 10MB.
Helpful Hint: Go to iTunes on your iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) and search for the podcast. Tap on the title and the podcast will stream. This means you don’t have to download it, the podcast will start to play immediately. Very handy when you’re away from Wi-Fi but are connected with 3G or you don’t want to wait for the podcast to download (though downloading takes about a minute or less). Don’t forget your data limits though! (See, Mind the Cap!)
But all I have is a computer!
If you don’t have a device, just a computer, no worries. iTunes will play your podcasts on your computer. For free. You don’t even need an iTunes account. If you don’t have iTunes on your computer, go to apple.com and download it here: Download iTunes. For free. Then check out podcasts in the iTunes Store. Give yourself a few hours, though. You may need it.
Here is a link to Frequently Asked Questions about listening to podcasts on iTunes: iTunes FAQ.
BeyondPod, available in the Android Market, will download the most recent podcasts on your Android device. This great app has amazing settings, allowing you to control when and how podcasts are updated (Wi-Fi or 3G), create podcast playlists, and download RSS feeds as well. (See, Tech-Knowledgy: RSS Feeds, Memory and Google Recipes!)
Check out this YouTube video showing how BeyondPod works on your Android device.
My Favorite Tech Podcasts!
You may not be shocked to learn that I listen to a lot of tech podcasts. Yes, it’s true. But I listen to others as well.
Here are my favorites:
- Zen and Tech – this new podcast by Rene and Georgia teaches you how to relax with tech.
- iPhone Live – Rene and Georgia tell you all about the latest iPhone news
- iPad Live- iPad news from Rene and Georgia.
- Bits: Tech Talk – The New York Times team of Pedro, JD and Bettina will help you learn and laugh about tech. Great music too!
- Today in iOS – Rob gives helpful hints, app reviews and promo codes for iOS apps.
- Android Central – Phil is definitely a Smartphone Expert when it comes to Android devices.
- The Kindle Chronicles – handy tips, news and in depth interviews make this a must listen. Len has a great voice for the podcast that sounds knowledgeable and soothing.
- The Cell Phone Junkie – no one know more about cell phones than Mickey and Joey. I first found out O2 would unlock my iPhone for free from TCPJ podcast (the staff at the O2 store in England didn’t even know about it yet).
Check out podcasts today. They’re free, on every topic you can imagine and available without the need for a special device. You can have fun, learn, be entertained and keep up to date with the latest information.
Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have any favorite podcasts you recommend? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Image by Colleen AF Venable
** Image by Eric Richardson