Blogs on the Radio: Listening to Podcasts
A text-based blog isn’t the only way to express yourself online. If you have an iPod
or other portable MP3 player, you can listen to audio blogs called podcasts. A pod-
cast is essentially a homegrown radio program, distributed over the Internet, that
you can download and play on any portable audio player—iPods included.
How Podcasts Work
Anyone with a microphone and a computer can create her own podcasts. That’s
because a podcast is nothing more than an MP3 file posted to the Internet. Most
podcasters deliver their content via an RSS feed, which enables users to easily find
future podcasts by subscribing to the podcaster’s feed. The podcasts are then down-
loaded to the listener’s portable audio player and listened to at the listener’s conven-
What kinds of podcasts are out there? It’s an interesting world, full of all sorts of
basement and garage productions. Probably the most common form of podcast is
the amateur radio show, where the podcaster assembles a mixture of personally
selected music and commentary. But there are also professional podcasts by real
radio stations and broadcasters, interviews and exposés, and true audio blogs that
consist of running commentary and ravings. The variety is staggering, and the qual-
ity level ranges from embarrassingly amateurish to surprisingly professional.
Finding Podcasts
Want to jump into the wild, wonderful world of podcasts? Then you need to browse
through a podcast directory and see what’s there for the listening. Some of the most
popular podcast directories include
Digital Podcast (
Podcast Alley (
Podcast Bunker (
Podcast Directory ( (
Podcasting News Directory (
Podcasting Station ( (
PodCastZoom ( (
Syndic8 Podcast Directory (
Yahoo! Podcasts (
Podcasts on the iPod
If you’re an iPod owner, you’ve probably noticed the Podcasts item on your iPod’s
menu. This lets you dial up all your stored podcasts and then play them back in any
You download podcasts to your iPod via the iTunes Podcast Directory. Just click
iTunes Store in the Source pane of the iTunes software and then click the Podcasts
link. As you can see in Figure 25.4, you can browse or search through the available
podcasts, download the ones you like, and subscribe to the ones you want to hear
again. Most of the podcasts here are relatively professional, including programs
from ABC News, ESPN, and podcast guru Adam Curry. Best of all, all the podcasts
from iTunes are free.
Browsing for pod-
casts in the
iTunes Podcast
When you subscribe to a podcast, iTunes automatically checks for updates and
downloads new episodes to your computer. Your downloaded podcasts are accessible
by clicking the Podcasts link in the iTunes Source pane. Naturally, the new podcasts
are transferred to your iPod when it’s next connected and synced. It’s a quick and
easy way to check out the whole podcast phenomenon—as long as you’re an iPod
owner, that is.
Creating Your Own Podcasts
If you think podcasts are cool, why not create your own? It’s surprisingly easy to do.
Here’s what you need:
A microphone (any type will do)
A PC (no special technical requirements)

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