This week I began learning about podcasting in my Journalism 2.0 course. I was excited to learn about the topic because I often pass by the “Podcasts” genre in the iTunes Store, disregarding it because I never understood what it meant.
So, you also might be wondering, what what makes a podcast unique from other types of digital media? The answer is simple: syndication. This means that even if I include an audio file on my blog that viewers can listen to and share, such as the SoundCloud file I embedded in my Multimedia Report, it cannot be called a podcast. Without syndication – which allows people to subscribe to the content, alerting them every time the podcaster posts an audio file – it is simply a blog post with an embedded audio file.
Another question I had before the class was about how to use podcasts. I wondered, “Do I have to subscribe to a podcast and automatically get every single episode downloaded to my computer if I just want to listen to it once?”. I soon learned that this is not the case. There is in fact three ways people can enjoy podcasts: by simply listening to a podcast by streaming it, by subscribing to the content (so each episode automatically downloads to your iTunes, for instance, every time a new file gets published), or by downloading one episode (to listen to on your desktop or transfer to a device) without subscribing to all of the content.
Now that I knew what podcasts were and how to consume them, I wanted to find some podcasts that might interest me. Websites like Podfeed allow users to find numerous podcasts on a wide range of topics. Just like Technorati is a directory for blogs, Podfeed is a directory for podcasts. In fact, Podfeed was the first of its kind – and it doesn’t seem like the style and layout of the website has been updated since. I thus decided to try looking for podcasts on iTunes instead.
The Top 10 podcasts on iTunes are:
- This American Life – Chicago Public Media
- Serial – The American Life
- Radiolab from WNYC – WNYC, New York Public Radio
- Under the Influence – CBC Radio
- Love + Radio – Love and Radio
- Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights) – CBC Radio
- Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Dan Carlin
- Freakonomics Radio – Stephen J. Dubner and WNYC
- 99% Invisible – Roman Mars
- Q: The Podcast from CBC Radio – CBC Radio
I decided to take a closer look at Freakonomics Radio. I read the New York Times Bestseller book “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner a few years ago, and I wondered how a book could be translated into a podcast.
The Freakonomics Radio podcast, hosted by Dubner, discusses topics such as “The Perfect Crime,” “How Biased Is Your Media?” and “What’s the ‘Best’ Exercise?” to continue exploring “the hidden side of everything” just as the authors did in their book. The podcast offers free weekly episodes that that tell interesting stories while teaching people how to “think a bit more creatively, rationally, and productively,” as explained in the iTunes description of it. According to the Freakonomics website, Freakonomics Radio is one of the most popular podcasts in the world, with more than 5 million downloads per month.
I have started listening to a few Freakonomics Radio episodes and I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it. I am even considering subscribing to the podcast and listening to it on my iPhone during my walks to class. Guests on the show include reputable professionals in their fields, and from someone who doesn’t like reading (I know, I know, I really wish I did), it was amazing to find such educational, non-textual material that I can easily consume on-the-go. For all you readers out there though, you can read the audio transcripts of the Freakonomics Radio podcasts on the website. There seems to be something for everyone on podcasts, and I highly recommend to stop overlooking this section in the iTune store next time you’re downloading music.