Two questions I’m often asked these days are “What’s a podcast?” and “How do you listen to a podcast?” I love these questions because they give me the opportunity to open up the world of podcasts to other people.
When podcasts first became a ‘thing’ I had no idea what they were. I took little interest in them because they sounded very ‘technical’ and that meant a bit ….. scary! My daughter at university mentioned something about podcasts and I just let it drop into the ‘too hard basket’.
At some point the lack of selection of radio shows and lack of availability of radio stations on my rural jaunts led me to delve into the possibility of podcasts.
What is a podcast?
It was explained to me that listening to a podcast is a bit like selecting a radio show you’d like to listen into, but you can choose to listen any time and in any place. I was also told that there is a very wide selection of podcast shows to listen into and that no matter what you’re interested in, there’s bound to be a podcast show about it. And that, I believe, is a pretty good explanation for the newbie podcast listener.
Basically, most podcast shows are hosted on platforms. The podcaster records and uploads their episodes to the platform which then sends them out to directories such as Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Spotify and so on. These directories then enable you to listen in to your selected shows or episodes.
Why should you listen to a podcast?
Once I’d worked out what a podcast actually is and how I could listen in, I’ve never turned back. I love podcasts for adding great value to my long rural drives creating an open theatre of education, entertainment and inspiration according to my preferences. The scary sounding technology was definitely not scary at all.
In fact I’ve gained so much from tuning in to podcasts, I decided to start my own podcast in early 2020, and later that year I sourced funding from the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN to create an educational community podcast for my region as it recovered from severe bushfires.
How do you listen to a podcast?
There are a few different ways to listen to a podcast. The two main ways are on the web or through a podcast player app on a smart phone or tablet.
1. How do you listen to a podcast on the web?
- The easiest method if you are new to podcasts is to listen in on the web if the podcast is available there. For example, the Speak Out Loud: Stories of Strength from the Southern Downs podcast can be found on my website. You can listen to the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast there too. If you go to my website, you can find these podcasts by clicking on the Podcasts Tab. To listen to the Speak Out Loud podcast, simply click on that in the drop down list.
- You will see a description of the podcast at the top of the page and below that is a podcast player.
- Scroll through the list of episodes and click on the one you want to listen to. Read the show notes (that’s a brief description of the episode) by clicking on the “i” icon in the bottom right corner of the episode in the player.
- Click the play arrow (it looks like a triangle) to listen to your selected episode.
- You can also download and / or print the handout that goes with each of these episodes by clicking the links below the podcast player towards the bottom of the page.
2. How do you listen to a podcast using a podcast player app?
If you’re a regular listener of podcasts, you might like to listen to your favourite podcasts through your smart phone or tablet while you’re out and about. For Apple Devices you’ve probably already got the Apple Podcast app installed on your device. For Android Devices you may need to install a podcast app. Either way you can choose which app to use.
- Make sure you have access to the Internet by checking your device is connected to wi-fi or that you have sufficient data to access and download from the Internet.
- Search the Google Play Store or Apple Store for “podcast apps”. There are many different apps available including Podcast Addict, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. You can read about the apps including user reviews to help you decide which one to use. You can also ask your friends, family and colleagues what podcast apps they prefer and why. Most podcast apps are free or have a free version which may include advertising played as an audio ad at some point during the podcast episodes, or there may be written ads on the screen of your device.
- Once you’ve selected a podcast app, download and install it on your device. You can always uninstall it later and try a different one if it doesn’t work out for you.
- You can use the app’s search function to look for a podcast show, episode, topic, or a person. For example, you can search for the podcast “Speak Out Loud: Stories of Strength from the Southern Downs”.
- You can view a list of the podcast’s episodes in the app as well as a description for each episode. These descriptions are sometimes called Show Notes and more detailed Show Notes are sometimes made available for you to read by clicking on a link.
- Use the control features in the app to download and play your selected episodes.
- If you ‘subscribe’ to a podcast, you will either receive a notification when new episodes are available to listen to, or new episodes may automatically download onto your device. If you choose not to subscribe you can check back regularly for new episodes.
- Most podcast apps allow you to download episodes while you have access to the Internet so that you can listen to them later (even if you don’t have an Internet connection later).
Do you need headphones to listen to podcasts?
Sound quality is at its best if you listen to your podcast shows through a good quality speaker which may or may not include your phone’s speaker, or you can use headphones. Check with your device’s manufacturer about using speakers, headphones, hands-free technology and Bluetooth technology to enhance your experience of listening to podcasts. Of course using headphones enables you to enjoy your podcasts without imposing your tastes on others around you.
Sooooo….. what are you waiting for? Time to get listening!
Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.