Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What Are Podcasts?

In November of 2007 I wrote one of my "Tips From The Blogging Queen" columns entitled "What Is Podcasting and Should You Jump On The Podcasting Bandwagon?" which was about "Podcasting" which was gaining in popularity back then.

If you don't know what "podcasting" is it is a combination of the words IPod and broadcasting where you distribute audio and video material over the Internet using syndicated feeds like an RSS feed specifically for playback on portable digital players and personal computers.

However, you do not need to use an IPod to listen a podcast and nowadays do not even need to download the media file to listen to a podcast. Any computer that is capable of playing media files can listen to a podcast. Any anyone with a telephone line can create a podcast and become an Internet radio producer.

Some podcasts are simple downloads that you can download to your computer or digital players. Some are simple links within a podcast blog to the particular show that you click on and the podcast is played on your computer.

Syndicated podcasts allow for special software to retrieve the new shows when they are streamed and feed them automatically to the subscriber. Files are downloaded automatically by the podcatcher software and stored on the subscribers computer or other device for use whenever the subscriber wishes.

There weren't a lot of crafting podcasts back in November 2007 but there are many, many more of them now.

In fact, may crafters have started to create their own crafting radio shows and podcasting according to whatever schedule suits their needs on whatever topic they have and expertise. The podcasts are as varied as the crafters and can be on just about any subject.

Some of the podcasts are free and the podcasters offset the expense of running the podcasts with individual show advertising or button advertising on the home pages of the podcast website and/or blog. Some are syndication based and charge a fee for listening to each show.

You might wonder why you would want to podcast? Well, the answer is very simple.

Content has become extremely mobile and "podcasting" is allowing audio and video content to be delivered to portable media players on demand. This means that you can deliver audio and video content to your customers so they can watch or listen to it whenever they want and wherever they are. Content has become available anytime and anywhere.

Also, the way in which content is being delivered is also evolving. It used to be that only audio content could be podcast and required MP3 files to be downloaded into IPod's or personal computers where separate player software (i.e. Real Player) was used to play the audio files. You would click on the link and download the audio file. The audio file would then open up in your "player" and begin playing the file.

This started with music downloads and quickly evolved into "radio broadcasts" where anyone could broadcast if they had a microphone connected to their computer and sound recording software.

Now "podcasts" have become so sophisticated that your can broadcast audio and video content just about anywhere, anytime. Some broadcasters are now combining "podcast" within their blogs and creating what is known as a "blogcast."

The latter allows bloggers to post an article to their blog and include an audio or video "podcast" link within the post that can be played right from the post utilizing an inline audio/video player. Readers do not need to open up a new player.

With the evolution of podcasting hundreds of online radio show websites have been developed similar to social networking websites to allow podcasters to upload via a telephone line and create free, live, call-in talk shows. The talk shows are archived on the radio talk show website and made available as podcasts at any time. Listeners can subscribe to shows via RSS feed, play directly from their computer, or download to their audio readers. Some shows are free and some are syndicated for a fee.

Generally, the online radio show websites allow listeners access to thousands of shows, a social networking forum, archived shows, alerts for upcoming shows, the ability to group your favorite shows into a collection, and a listener profile page for adding text, video's, etc.

For podcasters the online radio websites generally offer the ability to create a free radio show without the need for software. Some may offer syndication revenue sharing, live chat capabilities to interact with listeners, multiple participants, archived shows, widgets for the podcasters websites and/or blogs, the ability to group their favorite shows into a collection, and a podcaster profile page for adding text, video's, etc.

"Podcasting" is not for everyone. Disadvantages include the fact that it does require practice and the ability to conceptualize what and how you want your idea conveyed to your listeners. Advantages are unlimited mobility and being able to convey your ideas to your listeners anytime and anywhere.

Graphic courtesy of ClipArtGuide at

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