What is a podcast?

Podcasts booming – wait a minute, what is a podcast? what-is-a-podcast-

Podcasting is hip and cool again but you’re thinking, wait, what the hell is podcasting?

Well you are not alone. New research from the US shows that at least half of Americans don’t have a clue, this despite the fact the other half is podcast crazy.

Definition of a podcast

Ask Google what podcasting is and you get this definition:

“a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

Sounds complicated? Well it isn’t – people often describe podcasts as ‘Netflix for audio,’ which is easier to get your head around than the definition above.

Podcasting is basically listening to audio shows via a mobile app (by far the most popular way), or on your tablet or laptop, whenever it suits you.

Podcast on your Smartphone


Step 1.  Download a podcast app on your phone – just like any other app. With iPhones there is already an app installed – this one.  ios9-podcasts-app-tile

Step 2. Use the search function to find stuff. Click the subscribe button and you are up and running – new episodes of anything you’re subscribed to will automatically appear.

Download the podcast you want to listen to when you have wifi. Then you can play back at your leisure when you are offline whether on your commute, out for a walk, cycling or whatever.

Video walk-through – iPhone  or iPad  or via Android what is a podcast? pod man

The great thing about podcasting is that it doesn’t stop you doing other things. Try watching a video whilst cycling to the station, not recommended,  but listening to a podcast is not a problem.

There is a huge range of content available. From investigative journalism and storytelling, professionally produced by dedicated teams, to a myriad of one person shows put together in bedrooms and cupboards (I am not kidding) around the world. And everything in-between.

There are tech podcasts, business podcasts, marketing podcasts, sports podcasts, comedy podcasts, church podcasts and even prison podcasts. Think of something you really love and no matter how obscure chances are someone is podcasting about it.

Listening Options

More ways to listen to podcasts- try Stitcher – a sort of Spotify for podcasts.

Apple users might like Overcast and there’s SoundCloud too which works across different platforms.

If you want to you can of course just listen whilst browsing via your tablet, laptop or desk top computer. But the real joy is the freedom to listen offline via a mobile device. So, again, download whilst connected to the internet and enjoy later whilst off the web.

Some best of 2016 podcast lists to get you going.

Apples best of new podcasts 2016

The Guardian’s 50 podcasts you need to hear.

And an overview of the best Dutch podcasts

“Learn, laugh, and stay informed. Discover hundreds of thousands of downloadable podcasts, from thought-provoking stories to hilarious interviews to sports and politics. Search categories, subscribe to your favorites to get free updates, and see what’s rising to the top of the charts,” the podcast app description in App Store.

A wonderful world awaits – join the fun.

Ira and Mary
Here’s a nice video with Ira Glass from This American Life (great radio programme and podcast) and his friend Mary explaining how podcasts work. It was made when they were launching the spin-off show Serial which went on to become a huge international success.


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