What Does Podcasting Mean?

What is podcasting?

The word Podcast gets thrown around a lot these days but what exactly is a Podcast? What Does Podcasting Mean to you? Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can subscribe to or download at any time. In fact, a podcast is a web feed of audio or video files placed on the Internet for anyone to subscribe to, or download. Search online and you’ll find a range of Podcasts available on nearly every topic imaginable. They range from entertainment focused too educational to business oriented and everywhere in between.

A podcast differs from a simple download in that new content may be automatically delivered. Users need not click into your website for important specials since all of this information may be automatically downloaded. A podcast show consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to and view on-line or offline whenever and wherever you want.

The difference from broad and Web casts lies in how the material is created and distributed over the Internet. Instead of a centralized source and stream, podcasting is capable of sending the audio content directly to individual iPod and similar devices.

Podcast beginnings

What we know as a podcast had its beginnings in the creation of MP3 files that could be downloaded and played on the iPod device developed by Apple Computer. The release of the iPod encouraged people to share their music with others. They then realized that they could create, upload, and download information other than music.

Podcasting is a term, combining two words: iPod and broadcasting. Ironically, this definition is somewhat of a misnomer since neither component is completely accurate. Neither podcasting nor listening to podcasts requires an iPod or other portable player. In fact, podcasts can be listened to on any mp3 enabled device including a desktop computer. The name association came about simply because Apple Computer’s iPod was the best-selling portable digital audio player when podcasting began.

The term, podcasting was coined by journalist, Ben Hammersley, and then popularized by former MTV VJ and media entrepreneur, Adam Curry. Mr. Curry created an Apple script application that automated the process of downloading and syncing audio files to iPod s.

Other names or alternative interpretations of the letters, “P-O-D” were proposed, the most popular of which was “Personal On Demand”. Technology writer, Doc Searls came up with this phrase back in September 2004. Terms such as “audio-blogging”, audio magazines” and “web-casting” have also been offered to describe this unique form of media distribution.

Other “pod”-derived phrases include “podcasters” (those who create podcasts) and “pod catchers” the special RSS aggregators which periodically check for and download new content automatically. Podcatching software enables the user to copy podcasts to portable music & video players. Podcasting has flourished because it gives people more control over what they listen to, and the freedom to take their programs with them.

Some iPod users reverse engineered the device and loaded various types of firmware or operating system software. Other users decided that they would share sound files to be played on the iPod, since the technology for distributing such files already existed.

RSS feeds provide a way to generate machine-readable files, which could then share data between servers and users. Many blogs used RSS to keep their readers up to date on blog posts. Some visionary podcasters realized that they could enclose links to sound files inside the RSS feed and download these files to a computer.

The iPod podcast became increasingly popular as this change in RSS feeds was implemented. Podcasting became a common way to share files, and users began to view podcasting as a way to become, essentially, radio-show hosts or DJs. Then software was developed that would automatically check the RSS feeds, extract links to podcast episodes, and download the files. This software is called a podcast client.

By the time all this was happening, podcasting had expanded far beyond Apples iPod device. Developers had even discovered ways to use PlayStation Portable gaming systems as a podcast player. While this was more difficult than downloading a podcast to an iPod because of PSPs different file format, more PSP podcasts began appearing on the Internet.

Podcasting also expanded into use by individuals who didn’t have iPod s, but who viewed podcasting as a very convenient technology for receiving news, music, and entertainment over the Internet.

Who does podcasting?

Lady podcasting

Practically anyone with access to the Internet can podcast. As much as blogging began in this way, so does podcasting, whose appeal lies in the ease and convenience of creating and transmitting any audio material via the World Wide Web.

Broadcast industry players and radio shows syndication are only now riding the bandwagon by formatting their material as podcasts. But the great thing about this technology is that even non-pros can use podcasting to share their self-produced content in order to voice out their own opinions.

How does podcasting work?

Podcasting is almost an inevitable outcome of the Internet where great ease is given to anyone to publish anything and distribute it anywhere.

Users can connect their audio devices to their computers, access a podcast subscription, and download the feeds from the site. The audio is accessed by the user from the source and is automatically stored in the device. Numerous resources on the Internet detail how to improve podcast quality in terms of sound, equipment, and content.

What makes podcasting so popular, and therefore powerful, is its aural (listening) nature, which many deem superior over text (reading). Listeners of podcasts are able to learn in conjunction with another activity such as during a commute or exercise.

Why is it important?

Podcasting equipment

A great plus factor for podcasting is in the realm of education. While it cannot totally replace the classroom setup, podcasts can provide teachers yet one more way to connect with students. As almost all young people live on the Internet and many own portable audio devices, the possibilities of giving them something useful and educational through these means are great.

Where is it headed?

Enthusiasts have yet to find a limit to the uses of podcasting. This is most seen in the unabated growth of sites that categorize hundreds and thousands of podcasts and make them easily accessible to subscribers.

Even now, podcasting is developing at near breakneck speeds. Users and subscribers are becoming more discriminating, demanding new features for categorizing and indexing podcasts. As such, podcast producers are looking for new ways to enhance the simple audio format to deliver experiences that will not only entertain but educate as well.

The breadth and reach of podcasting is only now being realized but its growth is by no means slowing. With more and more rich media finding distribution on the Web, the quality of podcasts rely on how informed people are both in creating and subscribing to content.

The more you know about them, the better position you are to becoming a pod caster not only of popularity but, more importantly, of substance.

How does this affect you?

With podcast listening rising exponentially, podcasts offer you a very powerful tool for promoting your products or services. The great thing about podcasts is that they are relatively easy and inexpensive to create. Podcasting can help ensure a closer relationship with your target audiences by providing them with engaging, informative and frequent updates about the goings-on in your industry.

If you have a website then there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a podcast available as it’s not difficult to set up and can bring a significant increase in traffic to your site. So in short podcasting should be a vital component of any online marketing campaign.

What are the business applications of Podcasting?

The podcast is a real advantage for business travelers and salespeople who are constantly on the go. Since they are frequently in transit they can learn about what a company is offering while they travel. They’re able to stay in the loop about changes that are occurring in the industry or a particular company while on the way to their next meeting.

Whenever a business wants to change its marketing emphasis, their podcast will change with them. Podcasts enable potential customers to find out more about a particular company and its range of products and service without feeling pressured by a salesperson. Rather, a friendly voice explaining what makes the company unique will better serve to convert a potential client into a customer.

Podcasts also save on manpower. An extensive sales force is typically required to detail a company’s newest offers and innovations. With a podcast, visitors click in and are directed to any new information the company wants to present.

The other really great thing about podcasts is that they have an incredibly wide reach. Clients from across the world can access information on companies or products and learn about them in a simple, direct manner at any time, and without having to be tied to a computer.

Especially important is the utilization of pod cast directories which list podcast shows along with the links to their original websites. These directories publicize the available podcasts. When using directories it’s important to select genre and content categories that make it easier for listeners to find your podcast. Once you are listed with a directory, you will begin to get visitors from these directories to your website.

In order to encourage visitors to listen your podcast you’ll need to start by creating an enticing title that tells them just enough about your product to intrigue them.

More important than having a great title though is having even better content. An outline for your podcast will enable you to be sure you don’t lose your audience, and cover all the points you want to hit. How long your podcast will be is directly related to how much news you have to share and the extent to which you can keep that news fresh and exciting.

Frequency of updates is also an important issue to address. This will likely depend on the nature of what you’re discussing and how quickly things change in that industry.


Podcasting microphone

Now, iPod podcasting remains in use, but fewer people subscribe to podcasts in order to get portable media files. This still represents an attractive feature of podcasting, but it is overshadowed by the use of podcasting as a content delivery system.

Podcasting is currently associated with a large and growing number of audio and video blogs, for example. With these offerings, content is not delivered via posting, but through media files that are uploaded to the blog.

These types of blogs, and podcasting in general, benefit from the constantly decreasing cost of broadband Internet connections and the growing number of people who have high-speed access to rich online content that includes multimedia files.

So to sum up: Podcasts are basically like online radio shows that can be downloaded, or subscribed to. When used effectively they can be a powerful marketing tool for any sort of business. Are you a pod-caster let me know how that is going. This would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards Shane.


2 thoughts on “What Does Podcasting Mean?”

  1. Hey. I am looking into doing preforming arts myself. The course that i will be doing is of course raido base and will be prodcution base. I love the insight on how well you explained what podcasting is. I have listned to many podcasts in my time and they are very good to listen to whilst you are on studying or just i simplely walking to work.

    If you are a starter and have like not much money. How would you go about gettting into podcasting? or getting that audience to watch as i know how hard it is to get an audience to listen to something or even watch the podcast in youtube


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