Basically, podcasts are audio or video files that you can download, play on your computer, and/or transfer to a MP3 player. An MP3 player can be an iPod or other portable device, but nearly all computers have media players that will play these files using programs such as iTunes or Quicktime or Windows Media Player (all of which are available as free downloads). There are also a number of websites that will allow you to search for and play podcasts right from the website.

There are several ways to subscribe to a podcast:

  • The easiest and most commonly used is iTunes. iTunes is a free download developed by Apple, and can be used on either Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
  • A second option is to use a internet browser such as Firefox (Macintosh or Windows), Internet Explorer (v. 7) or Safari (Macintosh). All of these browsers can subscribe to podcasts through RSS feeds.
  • A third option is to go to the site and download the audio files onto your computer and listen to the audio. But this is not really podcasting, and misses out on the automated download that the other two options offer.

The advantage of using iTunes is that each time you open the program, it will automatically download any new podcasts that you have subscribed to. You can simply let this happen in the background while you do other things, then listen to, or view them whenever you’re ready.

Because iTunes has to be downloaded to your computer, you won’t be able to use it at KRL, but it’s a great option for anyone who has a computer or laptop at home.

Subscribing to a podcast is just like subscribing to a text-based RSS feed:

  • locate the podcast you want to subscribe to
  • copy the URL of the podcast and then paste it into the Advanced > Subscribe menu of iTunes
  • whenever you open iTunes, it will automatically download any new podcasts that are available as long as you are connected to the internet

The podcasts that you download are stored in a folder on your hard drive. Some of them can be a bit large (5 -25 Mb). You may want to delete the files once you have listened to them or burn them onto a CD if you want to save them.

There are a wide range of topics that are available as podcasts. You can find news programs; commentary on history; tutorials on photography; music and concert performances; programs on the arts; poetry or literary readings; short films; animation and much more. Here are three sources of podcasts you might want to check out:

You can find additional selections through search engines specifically for podcasts such as Podscope or Podcast Alley. You can also find both free and commercial podcasts at the iTunes Music store.

Here are some internet sites where you can search for and play podcasts directly on the site:

A warning is in order — you might find some of them quite addictive.

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