On Today’s Episode: A Brief Explanation of Podcasts



Although podcast technology has been around for over a decade, the idea of podcasting–and how to access podcasts once they’re produced–has been met with some confusion . So, for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the joy of the podcast, read on for some background, instruction, and ideas about how podcasting can work for you.

In the very early days of the internet, podcasting was known as audioblogging, but with the invention and widespread availability of personal music devices (specifically the iPod) the podcast began to gain some traction. In the last several years, in part due to the mainstream success of podcasts like Serial, podcasts have gained mainstream popularity.

At iDream.tv, we like to think of podcasts as radio shows you can listen to whenever and wherever you want. And while podcasts are often seen as a more democratic media platform, because of the relatively low-cost of production and distribution, we know that high quality sound recording and skilled production greatly enhance the listening experience.

You, the listener, can access podcasts in a variety of ways depending on the types of devices you use and whether you’re looking to listen to a single episode or subscribe to an entire series.

Listening To Single Episodes

BMBlogoTo listen to single a single episode you should visit the website of the podcast you’re looking for, or alternatively you can visit one of the many hosting sites out there (we use libsyn) and explore what they have to offer. For example, to listen to episodes of Black Market Reads, which we produce in cooperation with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, visit http://givensbmr.libsyn.com and simply press play on the episode you want to hear.

Subscribing to an RSS Feed

One of the great features of podcasts is that by subscribing to the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds of podcasts you want to hear,  all future content from that feed will be automatically downloaded to your device for free.

If you’re using Apple devices, the process is relatively uncomplicated because Apple natively supports podcasts on its devices. Simply go into the podcast app or the iTunes store, hit subscribe and you’ll be good to go! You can also download individual episodes from iTunes (but where’s the fun in that?).

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To download on an Android device, the process has a few more steps and will require a few more decisions on your part. Unfortunately, no Android devices currently offer native podcast support as part of their operating systems. That being said, you can individually download episodes directly to your mass storage via hosting sites like Libsyn. In order to subscribe to an RSS feed you’ll need to download podcast specific apps through the Google Play store (or wherever you like to get your apps) which are compatible with RSS feeds. The downside here is that these apps have an associated initial cost, for example the app Pocket Casts costs $3.99 0n the Google Play store but after that podcast downloads are free, just as they would be on an Apple device. Visit Android Authority for for their rundown of the 10 best Android Apps on the market.

Become a Podcast Star

Podcasts are especially notable for the wide range of content and format to which they lend themselves. In addition to Black Market Reads, which features discussions about social justice, literature, and culture as well as interviews with local and nationally acclaimed authors,  we produce a number of other podcasts. For example, NOTEWORTHY! Writers and History Makers at the Libraries features lectures and presentations recorded live at libraries in the MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency) system, while  Symposia: A Series is combination food podcast and learning experience recorded on location each month at Gardens of Salonica a family owned Greek Restaurant in NE Minneapolis.

If you are investing in a speakers series or a music series, why not consider leveraging the effort and expanding your audience with a podcast.  If you have a great idea for a podcast series give us a call at (612) 789-3500, or email services@idream.tv to discuss the ways podcasting can work for you.