What Is a Podcast : Everything you need to know !
Remember the good old days of TV and radio, when everyone would gather around to be entertained. Shows were broadcast at specific times and if you weren’t there on time you missed it!!
Well things have changed, thanks to podcasting time doesn’t matter anymore.
What is a podcast ?
A podcast is simply a series of audio episodes, all focused on a particular topic. You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to it on your phone , in your car or on a smart speaker. Podcasts are generally free and can be available anytime and anywhere as long as you have internet access.
Podcasting gives you freedom to take your favorite show with you and listen to it whenever you want. It makes shows personal and available on demand. That’s what makes it different from broadcasting.
If you wish to start a podcast of your own then read this step by Step Guide.
What Is a Podcast?
There are over a million podcasts in existence, with many million listeners. But there are still many who want to know, what is a podcast? what does a podcast mean? How does a podcast work?
What is a Podcast ? :
Podcast is simply a piece of audio, a story or an interview or a documentary series that you can download and listen to whenever you want.
What is a podcast used for?
Podcast is used for education , information , fiction , entertainment , gossip !! , new and anything that you can imagine. Its a direct connect between speaker and audience.
What is a podcast app :
Podcast app is an app where you can listen to any podcast that you want. It can be on your smartphone or PC or Tablet.
What is the purpose of a podcast :
Purpose of the podcast from podcaster point of view is to get his views and opinions or entertainment to the audience. While from listeners point of view it can be just listen to what you want when you want.
What’s an Example of a Popular Podcast?
Read our articles here for some popular podcasts. Best Educational / Academic Podcasts. Best Fiction Podcasts: Top 15: Updated 2020 , 16 Podcasts to Listen to During Lockdown and Beyond.
What Does a Podcast Mean?
Podcast is something which you can subscribe, download and listen to any time you want.
Podcasts are generally available in the form of shows, which are divided in various episodes. They can be discussion on a specific topic, a film review, a series on home improvement tips, life hacks, it can be anything. The possibilities are endless.
- They can be any length
- They can be any frequency, from daily to monthly
- They can be any format
- They can cover ANY topic
Some podcasts are also recorded as interviews or even group discussions.
Podcasts generally have a frequency and listeners generally eagerly wait the next episode of their favorite podcast.
How We Arrived at the Name PODCAST
Just to go back in some history the term POD is borrowed from Apples iPOD and the term CAST is borrowed from a radio broadCAST.
So iPOD + broadCAST gave us PODCAST
Though the podcasts first started on portable media players such as iPODs, now they are everywhere , computers , smart phones , tablets all devices can be used to listen to a podcast.
This article on Wikipedia defines podcast as an ‘episodic series of digital audio files that a user can download in order to listen‘
Why Podcasting is Becoming So Popular?
Anyone can Make it: No satellites radio towers or Studios needed most people only need a microphone or video camera a computer and a connection to the internet.
With these things in place, they can make their own show that is open to everyone. It also means that there’s a wide variety of podcasts whether it’s investment advice from Wall Street or your neighbors gardening show from down the street. There is likely a podcast for you.
Anyone can Listen to it: This means that if you visit a website or a mobile app that has a great podcast you can click a button and listen to it. You can even subscribe to receive future shows automatically.
Available Anywhere and Anytime: A Podcast is available anywhere you want (as long as you have access to internet of course!). You can download a podcast onto a computer or a mobile phone that you can take it with you.
Podcast has grown to be a background content, people generally listen to it while doing their regular activities such as driving to office, walking to college, cleaning you house. It can work in the background while still giving you enjoyment , a learning experience and much more.
How a Podcast Works?
There are four main links in the podcasting chain.
- The Podcaster
- The Hosting Service
- The Pod-Catcher
- The listener
Let’s look at what role each one plays.
The first and the most important link of the chain: The Podcaster
Podcaster is someone who is interested in sharing his/her knowledge, wisdom with the world through a piece of audio.
Podcasters have a topic of their interest which they want to talk about. They talk about a topic on their own or in some cases with a group. They record the conversation in the form of an audio file (usually a MP3 file).
They do some work on the recorded audio to make it presentable to the world. They also spend some money to put these audio files on the web so that others can listen to it.
The second link: Hosting Service
Podcast hosting provides the file hosting and RSS feed for your podcast. Let’s look at both these functions in a bit more detail.
If you want to learn more about podcast hosting , then read it here.
File Hosting: A podcast is a series of audio files. Naturally, they require a lot of space and bandwidth to be stored. However, personal website servers don’t have the amount of storage needed for the audio files that large.
Podcast hosting sites or services offer you the space to store your audio files so that your audience can easily download them.
RSS Feed: Hosting services also generate RSS feed for the podcast. “RSS” stands for “Rich Site Summary,”. In simple words it is basically a text file with all the information about your podcast.
Every time a podcaster records and puts up a new MP3 file on the host the RSS is updated with the latest information. RSS provides a summary of the podcast information to the next link in the chain i.e. the Pod-Catcher
Hosting sites also provide analytics reports on your listeners, marketing tools to grow your audience, social sharing options, 24/7 support etc.
The third link: The Pod-Catcher
Pod-catcher is the application which can ‘catch’ any podcast on the web and present it to the listener. A pod-catcher is an application, listeners can use to subscribe to podcasts.
The pod-catcher automatically downloads podcasts as they are posted to the hosting site and can also transfer downloaded podcast files to a portable device such as a mobile phone or a computer.
For all this to happen Podcaster first must link the RSS feed of his podcast to the Pod-Catcher. iTunes is an example of a pod-catcher.
The last link in the chain: The Listener
While Podcaster is the creator of the podcast, listener is the consumer. A listener creates an account and then logs in to the pod-catcher. He then searches for a podcast on his/her favourite topic.
Pod-catcher presents the listener with multiple options to choose from. Listener selects the podcast he wants to listen, downloads it and starts listening.
He/she can also subscribe to the podcast so that future episodes are automatically downloaded (thanks to the RSS feed).
Let’s take an example of a podcast on Indian food and look at all the four chains.
The podcaster: An Indian house wife who wants to share her knowledge about Indian food to audience world over. She discusses about Indian recipes in detail and records the same from her home to make a podcast.
Hosting Service: She hosts her podcast on an online hosting platform such as Buzzsprout or PodBean and links the RSS feed to the iTunes.
Pod-catcher: iTunes, it reads the RSS feed of the Indian housewife podcast and makes it available to everyone in the world.
Listener: A young girl in Germany fascinated by Indian food during her last trip to India wants to know a lot more about it. She searches for it on iTunes, finds the Indian Housewife podcast.
She likes it and subscribes to it. Now every time a new episode is uploaded, iTunes automatically downloads it on her phone so that she can listen to it on her way to college!!
Well, you can really see how empowering a platform podcasting is, people who have never seen or met each other can learn, enjoy and grow together while sharing common interests.
Podcasts vs Broadcast
In most cases broadcasting is live , the content is raw in nature and is supposed to be aired at a predefined time. Listeners have to tune in at the required time if they want to listen.
On the other hand podcasts are generally pre-recorded and edited as well. The content can be lot more polished and concise. Podcaster can decide when he wants to schedule a particular episode. Once published the episode is available to listeners at any point of time in future.
If listeners loved a particular portion of the broadcast and they want to listen to it again, then its a little difficult. The show has to be aired again or it should be published on the net for anyone to have repeat listening.
Podcasts however, can be listened to again and again any number of times. The media file is downloaded to your device and is available as long as you want !
Podcasts vs Audio-books
Audio-books are also a very popular background content. Many people listen to their favorite audio-book in the car or on their way to work or college. Audio-books also have chapters and can be hence episodic in nature.
The main difference between an audio-book and a podcasts is that the audio-book is generally one complete story/content broken down into pieces by chapters. The complete book already exists. There is very little connection between the author / audio artist with listeners. Its a one sided delivery of content.
Podcasts on the other hand are episodic by nature , the complete content is most often not defined and there is an element of surprise, connection between the podcaster and the listeners. Podcaster can take feedback from listeners and alter the content next time as well.
Podcast Vs Audio MP3 file
If you have downloaded a podcast episode then you know by now that you actually downloaded an audio file. The main difference between a podcast and a simple audio file is the possibility of subscribing.
The key answer to the question What is Podcast ? lies in that fact that you can subscribe to the podcast and listen to a series of audio files based on your interest and time when these fiekls get uploaded by the creator.
The basic podcast is an audio file only but hosted on server and made available to you in your podcast listening app.
How to listen to Podcasts
With thousands of new listeners getting on board, it is still a question for many, how to listen to podcast ?
There are four main ways to listen to podcast.
- On a computer, desktop or laptop
- On a smart phone, android or iPhone ( Headphones are preferred)
- On a smart speaker
- In a Car ( You of course use your smartphone to connect)
Why should you listen to Podcast ?
To start with, you will be able to listen to What You Want. You have the complete control on what you listen, when you listen and how you listen to a podcast. You can listen to a large assortment of topics and develop new interests.
If you plan to start a podcast of your own, then listening to as many podcasts as possible is the best way to get started.
Your experience listening to podcasts will help tremendously when it comes time to create your own podcast show. By listening to variety of podcasts, you’ll get an idea of what you like and dislike.
You’ll also start to paint a picture on how you want to do your show. You can really learn a lot from people who are already making podcasts and doing great!
Podcasts have changed the way people consume audio content.
You wake up in the morning and get ready to go to work or school. Before you leave the house, you grab your smartphone, which has been already synchronized with the audio content you have subscribed to. Content that you want to listen to.
That is the power of walk-away content , you control what you listen to, and when and where you consume it.
You can read about how to listen to podcast, one of our most popular posts.
Welcome to your podcasting journey with quickstartpodcast team.
Below paragraphs have links to all our posts in a logical manner starting from being a podcast listener to being a podcast creator.
The podcast Listener phase :
The podcasting journey generally begins with various questions such as what is a podcast , what a podcast is used for ? how to listen to a podcast , what are the best android and iOS apps to listen to podcast .
Depending upon the things that you like you will search for fiction podcasts , educational podcasts etc. Most of the people restrict their journey in podcasting to this level. They just end up being listeners to podcasts. Some of then take the next leap of faith and decide to start their own podcast.
Podcast creator Phase :
How to start your podcast ? is the main question they are faced with . Once that you have decided to start a podcast , what should be the name of the podcast , what should be the podcast format , which podcasting niche should you chose , what should be episode titles , what are popular podcast formats and what should be mine and so on ..
What is the right equipment for creating a podcast , what are the best XLR , USB , Condenser and dynamic microphones available. Can I record my podcast in an iPHONE , What should be the polar pattern , should I use an audio interface or a mixer , do I need a POP filter . There are so many question . How much podcasting will cost me , what are different setups based on my budget.
Once you in the journey of podcasting you will need to decide how should be a great podcast intro , how to record the podcast , how to record podcast online , how to test the mic , what should be length and frequency of my podcast , how to make great sounding podcasts and finally how to make money from podcasting ? ..
Whats is a podcast host and do I need one ?? , Uploading podcasts to google podcast and Apple podcasts are also crucial steps.
The journey starts from being a podcast listener going all the way to being a great podcast creator and quickstartpodcast is there with you in all this journey.