You know what an iPod is (if not, read "What the heck is an iPod" before going on). In a nutshell, Apple has a product called the iPod that lets people listen to music or other audio (and some let you watch TV and video) from a little device with little headphones that go inside your ears called earbuds. Similar to the old Sony Walkman devices that let you play audio tapes on the portable device.
And you know what broadcasting is. TV and radio stations broadcast the news and other programs. If you put the two words together - iPod and broadcast - you get a new word called podcast.
Here's the idea. Books on tape have proven to be very popular because they let you "read" books while driving, exercising or doing some other activity. You don't need to stare at a page or screen to get the information from the audio book.
Podcasts are similar. A podcast is an audio file (in a standard computer file format called MP3) that you can play and listen to, like an audio book, instead of reading. You can play the podcast file on your computer through your speakers or burn it to a CD for listening in the car or transfer to a portable device like the iPod and listen while on the go.
One of the exciting things about podcasts is that average people can create and distribute them. So people have created podcast on every topic imaginable. It's like they have their own radio show.
Podcasts can vary in length from a couple minutes to hours. Just like with web pages or blogs, the quality of podcasts will vary. Some are great and some are garbage.
You can go to a directory of podcasts such as podcastpickle.com and browse the categories (Arts, Business, Sports, etc) and select a podcast to listen to. You can start listening to a particular podcast show just by clicking on it. That will let you play the show right away through your PC speakers or save it for later listening.
When you find a show that you like you can subscribe to that podcast. Subscriptions are free and they prevent you from having to check back to see if there are new shows available. You can use free podcast reader software such as Juice (my favorite) to easily subscribe and unsubscribe to podcast shows.
If you want to listen to a podcast show away from your PC, you can burn the podcast MP3 file to a CD or transfer it to your iPod or other portable MP3 device. Then listen at your leisure.
For more information check out the podcast primer on my podcast website - The Great Lakes Geek Show.
Answered by Tech Expert Dan Hanson
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