March is Podcasting Awareness Month


1. What is a Podcast?

A Podcast is like a YouTube video, but without pictures.

For those of you who are a little older, a YouTube video is like a TV show, but on the internet.

For those of you who are a little older than that, a TV show is like a Radio show, but with pictures.

So, by the Transitive Property of Similarity, a Podcast is like a Radio show, but on the internet.


2. How can I listen to a podcast?

You need an internet connection, which you definitely already have.  You also need a smart phone, a computer, or something that has an internet browser, which you also definitely already have.

You can use a Podcasting application, such as the "Podcasts" app that comes stock on an iPhone, Google Play on an Android phone, or the Overcast app, which you can download through the appropriate App Store.

You can also usually go to the Podcast's website and listen directly from your internet browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc.)

Once you find a Podcast you want to listen to every time a new episode comes out (on the iTunes store, Google Play site, or your favorite Podcast App's interface), you can Subscribe to it so your device or app downloads new episodes automatically, or you can just download a single episode to see if you like it.


3. What kinds of Podcasts exist?

If it can be a TV or Radio genre, it can probably be a podcast.  

The most common format is an Interview or a Conversation, usually between 2-4 people.  Some shows revolve around a particular topic, and others are more general.

Some shows choose to present an perform works of Fiction.

Some shows choose to delve deeply into particular issues or current events.

Most national radio shows will also publish their episodes as podcasts, after they have aired.  (This is how I've been listening to "Car Talk" on NPR for the past year.)

And there are many other topics and formats that people are exploring, inventing, and synthesizing every day!


4. How much does a Podcast cost me, the listener?

Usually nothing!


5. Okay, I should probably check this out.  What are some good Podcasts to listen to?

I'll try to be fair, here, but I'm almost certainly biased, so let's get that out of the way.

a) The 20-Sided Theatre, by Rudraigh Quattrin & Blake Parker: a monthly podcast about adventurers, heroes, and mercenaries who seek to save and/or extort the planes!  It's this show!

b) Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor: a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

c) Fresh Air, with Terry Gross: from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues; one of public radio's most popular programs, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.

d) Alice Isn't Dead, by Joseph Fink and Jasika Nicole: A truck driver searches across America for the wife she had long assumed was dead. In the course of her search, she will encounter not-quite-human serial murderers, towns literally lost in time, and a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.

e) Back to Work, with Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann: an award winning talk show discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

f) Serial, by This American Life: the show that first made many people aware of Podcasting as a medium. 


6. Why am I still reading this?

I don't know!  You could be discovering or listening to something really cool, instead!