Radio, as a medium, is dying. Radio stations across the country are switching to music-only formats which still cannot compete with the variety on your iPod or other type of portable media player. The talk-based content that used to populate radio stations is, unfortunately, dying as well. The answer to this problem is the podcast, which are essentially radio shows that you download and listen to on your computer. No radio is actually required. You can download podcasts quickly and easily using the software that practically invented them – Apple’s iTunes.
One of the main benefits of a podcast is that all shows are, for better or worse, completely uncensored. Unlike radio shows, podcasts are distributed solely on the Internet and are therefore not governed by the FCC. This means that podcast hosts and guests can say whatever they want. This results in a more raw and real experience than you could ever find on a terrestrial radio station. Note that this does, however, mean that podcasts marked with an “Explicit” label in iTunes feature harsh language and adult material.
You can have your own podcast if you’d like. If you have a computer and a microphone you can record your voice into an audio file on your computer. If submitted properly, that file could then become your own podcast that people all over the world can download from iTunes. The podcast would be available in the iTunes Music Store alongside all other podcasts and shows available for download.
Podcasts found in Apple ITunes aren’t just created by broadcast and radio amateurs. A lot of professional entertainers, comedians and general celebrities have their own Internet podcasts. These are people that would never be able to get or sustain a regular radio show but have now been given an outlet for their voice and personality thanks to iTunes and the Internet. This is just one of the many reasons that podcasts are more versatile than radio shows could ever hope to be.
Downloading a podcast is simple. Load the iTunes program on your computer and click on the “iTunes Store” link on the left side of the screen. Select the “Podcast” button from the top to browse podcasts the same way you would music or television shows.
You can choose to view podcasts by genre to narrow your selection. For example, if you’re looking for a funny podcast you might select “Comedy.” You can also choose to view a “Weekly Top Shows” list for every category. You can also search for podcasts by keywords that match your interest.
Once you’ve found the page for a podcast you want to download, your two options are to “Get Episode” or “Subscribe.” The first option allows you to download only a single episode. This can be a great way to try out a show to see if you like it. The second option allows all past and future episodes of that particular show to automatically download into your iTunes program. This is similar to the way a magazine would be delivered right to your doorstep.
To listen to a podcast in iTunes, click the “Podcasts” button on the left side of the screen. Double-click the name of a podcast to play it, just like you would play a song in the same program. You can also sync podcasts to your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to listen to them on the go.
All podcasts in the iTunes store are completely free of charge. If someone is charging money for a podcast, because of the iTunes terms and conditions it technically stops being a podcast and is then considered to be an “Audiobook.”