The name is a portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting. Podcasts actually started in 2004, but they are becoming more and more popular. According to the 2019 Infinite Dial, 70% of the U.S. population is familiar with the term podcast, and 51% have at least listened to a podcast. However, for those people who do not listen to podcasts, 37% do not understand what a podcast is, 48% are not sure how to listen to a podcast, 65% say there are so many podcasts, they don’t know where to start, and 80% think they do not have a podcast app on their phone.
If you are one of those people who do not listen to podcasts, here are five things you should know:
- YouTube videos and audio files downloaded from websites are not podcasts. Podcasts are also not audio files contained in an email, and they are different than “live streaming.”
- Podcasts are designed to be automatically delivered to multiple on-demand podcast networks (such as iTunes or Stitcher) or podcast apps through an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed. They are on-demand, meaning they can be listened to at any time. You can “subscribe” to a podcast and automatically receive each new episode as it is posted. You can also download single episodes of a podcast without having to subscribe.
- Most podcasts are free, and they are like a show (or TV series, say, Friends). A podcast episode is a single audio file from a podcast series (like the Friends episode “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”). The episodes may be standalone or part of an ongoing plot arc. Podcasts can have seasons or be ongoing throughout the year. As of February 2019, more than 660,000. podcasts (shows) and over 28 million episodes are available.
- Most folks listen to podcasts on a smartphone using a podcast app. Both major smartphone operating systems (Android and iOS) have podcast apps preinstalled. In addition, Google Play and the Apple App Store have many free third-party podcast apps available. You can also listen using voice assistants such as Google Home or Alexa.
- Podcasts can be found topically by searching a podcast network (such as Stitcher, iTunes, or Google Play) or through a podcast app (such as Overcast.) The Legal Talk Network hosts 30 law-related podcasts.