Random Access   chris, kp & rob
Geek Candy
Discovering the Podcast Nation
by rob

When you think iTunes® and iPods you usually think jams pumping at high volumes, but there is more for your ears than just music. Allow me to introduce you to the hottest thing in radio: podcasting.

What is podcasting? You can think of Podcasting as TiVo® for radio. You subscribe to a radio program, and the content gets downloaded to your computer so you can listen to it when you want. Podcasting clients like iTunes keep track of your subscriptions and check periodically for new content. If you've got an iPod, iTunes can sync your podcasts automatically to your iPod, keeping them as fresh as possible. The best thing about podcasts? They're free. That's right folks, free!

Podcasts are simply MP3 audio files that contain talk radio rebroadcasts of traditional radio shows while others are recorded exclusively for podcast listeners. Since podcasts are mostly spoken words, the sound files can be compressed into smaller files than music files. For an hour broadcast, the MP3 podcast file is about 20MB as opposed to about 90MB for 1 hour of music.

Podcast subjects include standard radio fodder like news, weather, politics, interviews, comedy, sports and movie reviews while other podcasts are entirely dedicated to topics you're not likely to hear on the airwaves. Some of my favorites are The Daily Source Code with Adam Curry (known in the podcasting community as "The Podfather"), 5 Minutes with Wichita (over-the-top funny interviews with bluegrass music stars), Fly With Me (stories from pilots and flight attendants at 30,000 feet), and Le Show (an hour's worth of Harry Shearer). With thousands of podcasts from around the world to choose from, there's a podcast out there for everyone.

Just click "Subscribe"
Just click "Subscribe" when you find a podcast you like

The popularity of podcasting has really taken off with the newest version of Apple's iTunes. iTunes 4.9 makes it a breeze to subscribe to podcasts. Just click on the Podcasts icon in iTunes, find a podcast you want to listen to, and click the "Subscribe" button. It's that easy. iTunes will download the newest file for you by default so you can start listening right away. Previous episodes will be displayed with a “Get” button so you can choose which ones you want to download.

Deep inside the Random Access lab, signals can't get to our radios, and our firewall is so impenetrable that streaming audio is out of the question. That's why podcasts are perfect for keeping up-to-date and in-the-know.

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