From PC Magazine's online encyclopedia--Definition of podcast: (iPOD broadCAST) An audio broadcast that has been converted to an MP3 file or other audio file format for playback in a digital music player or computer. The "pod" in podcast was coined from "iPod," the predominant portable, digital music player, and although podcasts are mostly verbal, they may contain music.
Bring this to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes and you get: an online radio show about topics that interest YOU that you can save and play any time you want to either on your computer, or a portable mp3 player.
Anyone can make a podcast. If you have access to a computer, and a decent microphone to record your voice, and the means to upload your audio show to the internet, you can be a podcaster.
That doesn't mean you're going to have anything interesting to say.
Podcasts vary greatly in quality, length, and substance. They aren't regulated by the FCC so be warned, there are some out there with explicit language and/or content. Its not all a bed of roses. There is nothing worse than listening to someone talk to himself in his basement about things you couldn't care less about.
On the other hand, it is absolutely fantastic to hear a talk show about a topic that you are very involved in, by people who know what they are talking about. It makes you want to call in and tell them your thoughts too! Which is just fine by them.
Audience participation is usually very welcome on most podcast shows. You can be part of the show in many ways, either by calling in, writing in, emailing, or chatting in their chat rooms. Lots of them even use Skype and other web-based phones. So joining in on the conversation is encouraged and very easy to do.
One of the great things about podcasts is that once you find a show you like, often you can download archives of it and catch all the ones you missed.
Something that you may miss by listening to Podcasts is all of the music you are familiar with. Many podcasts are run on shoestring budgets with donated time and equipment, and maybe one sponsor to cover the costs of webhosting. They do not have the money to pay for royalties to artists. So in order not to get sued, they tend to refrain from using copywritten music on their shows.
Instead they use either original music that they make themselves, or they use royalty free music from a safe source.
These safe sources, such as http://www.podsafeaudio.com and http://music.podshow.com allow musicians to promote themselves and their bands by uploading their original music up to the site. Registered Podcasters can then browse the music and find tracks that suit their purposes or that they like enough to promote and then proceed to use them in their shows.
Non-podcasting visitors can download the tracks from the website or purchase a custom CD for a fee, thereby providing some much needed finiancial support for the artists. Its really a great avenue into self-promoted musical artists. One song of mine was already picked up and played on a Podshow from New Jersey. It felt pretty nice to know someone liked the song, and depending on how many listeners he had, spread it out to other people as well.
If you're one of those people who complains that everything on the radio sounds the same, this is for you. You're likely to find something unlike anything you have EVER heard., and just maybe you'll find something you wish you had heard a lot sooner.
Conversely, if you are a small-town band trying to get noticed in this great big world, uploading some songs for podcasters is a great way to gain some free exposure beyond your regular gigs.
Ready to try it out? There are lots of ways to do so. If you use iTunes, you are already ready already. If not, you can surf on over to http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/ and get Juice. Juice is a cross-platform (Win, Mac) Podcast receiver. On the Linux side of things, check your distro's repositories for Icepodder, gPodder, or Podnova.
My personal top pics for Podcasts are The Linux Action Show (www.linuxactionshow.com) and LottaLinuxLinks (www.lottalinuxlinks.com). They represent two of the extremes of podcasting but deal with the same topic. The Linux Action Show is a highly polished professional sounding show about what is newest and best in the Linux world. And LottaLinuxLinks is a great one-man-show covering Linux, produced by a man during his daily drive home, yes, you read right, he does the show from his vehicle, on a shoestring budget, with an imaginary female co-host (a computer generated voice) to introduce and wrap up the show.
As you can see, Podcasts are a whole other world of music, people, and opinions. Consider this an invitation.
See you next week!
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