Despite the name, you don’t need an iPod to listen to a podcast. A podcast is simply an audio program that listeners can subscribe to via a podcast reader (i.e. an RSS aggregator). See image below on right. That is the universal logo for RSS. They are often, but not always, updated regularly, and can be downloaded to any computer device capable of playing audio files: desktop computer, laptop, MP3 player, iPod, PDA, cell phone, etc. Podcasts are often described as a kind of TiVo service for audio content. They offer a convenient way to distribute, download, and listen to all kinds of Internet audio “broadcasts,” whenever and wherever the listener chooses.
Presently, podcasts cover just about any topic, ranging from interesting and educational to downright pointless. They can sound polished and professional or be simple amateur productions. In fact, it’s almost as easy to create a podcast as it is to download one – all one needs is a microphone, recording software, and access to the Internet.
My favorite podcast player at the time is Stitcher. Stitcher is an on-demand internet radio service that focuses on news and information radio and podcasts. It provides free online streaming through the website and also using native mobile applications such as the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm webOS. Stitcher simplifies the consumption of podcasts by eliminating the need to synchronize content to a device. Content is instead streamed to listener’s phones on-demand. The customization has been compared to Pandora by CNET, who wrote that Stitcher “is to news and information what Pandora is to music.”