Podcasts: what are they & how do I start listening to them?

If you haven’t heard about podcasts or podcasting before, then you’re in for a treat! Today we’re going to explain what a podcast is and how to start listening to them. We’ll also help send you off in the direction of some great places to start hunting for some favourites too.

What is a Podcast?

The word podcast was coined in 2004 by Ben Hammersley. He wanted to create a word which could be used for the new ‘Internet Radio’ the world was being exposed to. Pod came from the iPod, Apple’s digital media player, while cast came from the term radio broadcast.

The good news is though, you don’t need an iPod to listen to a podcast. We’ll explain why in just a bit. But let’s nail down what podcasts really are:

  • Like internet radio, you can listen to them on your computer or another digital device
  • They are designed to appeal to a small target audience
  • A podcast can be played on demand when you want to listen to it
  • You can subscribe to your favourite podcasts and will be notified when new episodes are ready to be listened to

How Do I Start Listening to a Podcast?

You have two choices when you want to listen to a podcast. First up, you can just listen to it straight over the internet. Second, you could download it to your computer, smartphone or other device and listen to it even when you are not on the internet.

To listen to a podcast, you have two main choices:

  • Playing Podcasts on a PC – head to the website the podcast is on and you’ll probably find that is has a play function on it. Hunt for the play button and you’re away laughing. The downside is you need to stay on your PC to keep listening to it.
  • Playing Podcasts on a Smartphone – both Android and iPhones will let you listen to a podcast on them. If you have an iPhone, you should already have the Apple Podcasts app ready loaded onto it. Open the app and start hunting for podcast topics. If you have a smartphone, you’ll need to download a podcasting app such as Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Cast Box or Sound Cloud. They work the same way – you open the app and hunt for your podcast using the search function. Then find the episode you want to listen to and press the play button.

Where Do I Find Podcasts to Listen To?

Remembering that podcasts are the like an internet radio, you can use regular search engines such as Google to find them. Simply type in a topic, add the word podcast and narrow down your selection. Or you could use the search function in podcasting apps.

To make things easier, we’ve hunted down 10 great podcasts for you to start with. Check out our article 10 Podcasts You Must Listen To and get started in the podcasting world.