What is a Podcast?

A podcast is an episodic program delivered via the Internet using something called RSS or Really Simple Syndication. Podcast episodes can be audio files, video files, documents, or any combination of the three. The publisher or provider podcasts the program by posting the episodes and a small configuration file to a web server. The consumer subscribes to the podcast using a client application, such as iTunes, which regularly reads the configuration file and downloads new episodes.

Because podcasts can include several of the most common types of media, they can be used to offer many different kinds of programs. Any television or radio program can of course be transmitted as a podcast, as can any lecture, performance, or other recorded event, even narrated slideshows. In most podcasts, each episode is the same file format, so subscribers can enjoy the program the same way each time. However, some podcasts use multiple media. Language courses, for example, can combine video for a sense of the foreign country, audio for information and ear training, and documents for practice and reference.

And podcasts are very popular for a variety of reasons:

  • Podcasts are free.
  • Thousands of podcasts are available from all over the world.
  • New podcast episodes appear automatically and can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime.

How much do podcasts cost?

The Tech Apologist Podcast, like nearly all podcasts available on the Internet, are free.

Do I need an iPod?

No. Although you can download podcasts to an iPod (or any mobile device) to play them on the go, you can listen to or watch podcasts on your computer.

Are there video podcasts?

Podcasts are more than just audio; some of the most popular podcasts are video podcasts. Most are playable on mobile devices or even on Internet enabled TV’s. While the Tech Apologist podcasts will be in audio format, some topics may better lend themselves to video, in which case we’ll use it.

Will I be able to subscribe to the podcast using iTunes?

Yes. Maybe not until we get a few episodes “in the can” but eventually. Just check the website, or social media pages for more information when iTunes is available. Until then just watch Facebook or Twitter for news when new episodes are available.

How often will new episodes be available?

I’ve always worked under the attitude of “under promise and over produce”. So I’m going to commit to producing a new episode on a monthly basis, but try to release them more often. Again stay tuned to social media for news.

Podcasting sounds like fun. I’ve got an idea for a podcast, how do I get started?

Like most topics anymore, there are a lot of great resources on the Internet. Much of the information I used for this article came from an iTunes webpage called FAQ’s for Podcast Fans. iTunes has another similar page intended for those that want to produce podcasts.

A book I would recommend that was very helpful to me is “Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Audio and Video Podcasting” by Michael W Geoghegan and Dan Klass. It is available on Amazon at this link in paperback or Kindle format.

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