What is a podcast?

Podcasting is like radio, frozen in time on the Internet. Another way of thinking about it is “radio on demand.” One difference is, though, the vast majority of podcasts are never “broadcast” anywhere but on the Internet. So, except for podcasts from NPR or other professional broadcasters, podcasts often have an amateur feel to them. Anyone can make a recording and post it on the Internet as a podcast. People who are interested can play the file right then or download it for later, or even put it on a CD. Or, listeners “subscribe” to the podcast, and new content is automatically sent to their computer and can then be installed on their portable listening device (e.g., iPod) whenever it becomes available.

Subscribing to podcasts is free. It just means that the listener will automatically be sent new podcasts instead of having to go back to each individual website and check for new shows.

The simple answer: podcasts are audio files (although some images and video are available)on the Internet in a convenient format that allows users to have them routinely synced to portable devices if desired.

© 2006-2007 Paula S. Cochran, Ph.D., CCCSLP