Copyright 2005 David C. Loebig
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Podcasts are soooooo cool. And you say, “What’s a podcast,” and I say that I expected that to be the first question out of your mouth...well not your mouth, exactly, unless you just uttered that question to the newspaper, which would be kind of weird.
So podcasts are radio programs almost anybody can make that anybody can subscribe to and listen to on a computer or an MP3 player. You don’t need an iPod or a Mac. They work on Windows computers and other MP3 players.
What really makes them cool is that there are thousands of programs available right now created by professionals and average Joes and Janes...or by average Jeffs and Pats as the case may be. (One of my favorites is “This and That with Jeff and Pat.” More on that later.)
Podcasts are generally published weekly on seemingly every topic: humor, politics, religion, music, gay issues, arts, cars, computers. There’s something for everybody. If there isn’t, there will be soon.
Podcasting started in 2003 and really took off in 2004. Initially they were produced by amateurs and non-mainstream media, but now CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR and other national publishers are podcasting. With this growth comes a breadth of topics, formats and styles. Even the Whitehouse has a podcast.
You can subscribe to podcasts with free software that automatically downloads the latest shows. If you have an MP3 player, you can listen at your convenience--while exercising, driving to work, laying in bed, cooking...and even while laying in bed cooking, if you can imagine.
I know, I know, many people don’t have MP3 players, but that will change. Prices will drop, more people will have them, and they will become standard in cars and stereos.
I have to say that I predicted this about 12 years ago. Really, I did. I said I looked forward to when my stereo would have a hard drive and my car would download the news, weather and traffic five minutes before I leave for work, and I’d listen to it during the drive. We aren’t quite there, but I’m certain it’s coming.
And what would I listen to? My favorite is “This and That with Jeff and Pat” created by two friends in Dallas who produce a humorous weekly show complete with regular segments, musical interludes and “on-the-street” reports. They have real jobs during the day, but every weekend they do a show that’s funny, clever and has good production values. You can find it at ThisAndThatPodcast.com
Other favorites include On the Media (OnTheMedia.org), Science Friday (ScienceFriday.com) and Inside Mac Radio (InsideMacRadio.com).
And now I have my own podcast ready for you at RandomDigressions.com. I can’t promise a weekly show, but once you subscribe, the software automatically downloads new shows when they are available. It’s simple.
I’ll also post links to other sites that have podcasting software and how-to information.
I usually don’t get excited with the parade of techy innovations, but I think podcasting will open up the marketplace of ideas and entertainment. The internet has already done that, but podcasting is a whole new medium. It’s more like radio you take anywhere and listen to when you want.
For instance, last week I missed “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning, a show I usually watch, but NBC started a podcast two weeks ago. So I subscribed, downloaded the show and listened to it that evening while exercising.
Podcasts can be serious or funny or spiritual, educational, political...and probably everything else the Internet is for better or worse. Many shows are very good, and it’s incredibly convenient. It will change how we listen to “radio.”
Dave Loebig writes and banters out of the Tampa, Fla. area. You can
banter with him at RandomDigressions.com.