The name "podcast" combines the terms iPod and broadcast into a single catchy word. As the name suggests, podcasts are audio and video broadcasts that can be played on an iPod. However, because podcasts are downloaded using Apple iTunes and can be played directly within the program, you don't actually need an iPod to listen to a podcast.
Podcasts are distributed by both professional organizations as well as amateur audio producers who want to share their content with others. News organizations such as NPR and CNN offer podcasts of their news stories, while other types of podcasts can be downloaded from Comedy Central, G4 TV, VH1, and many other broadcasting companies. Podcasts can be browsed within the iTunes Music Store or found directly on an organization's website, which often provides links to current podcasts.
Amateur podcasts can be created by anyone who has a microphone or digital video camera and a computer with recording software. In fact, recent versions of Apple's GarageBand include special options for creating and exporting podcasts. Amateur podcasts are not always available through the iTunes store, but can be distributed on the Web. A simple link to the podcast will open the file in iTunes, making it possible for anyone with a website to publish podcasts.
Podcasts are often distributed in "episodes," meaning new podcasts are made available on a regular basis. Users can subscribe to these podcasts, which iTunes can automatically download as they become available. Once podcasts are downloaded, the files are saved in the iTunes Library and can be viewed within the Podcasts section. They can be played within iTunes or transferred to an iPod, so users can watch or listen to podcasts while they are on the go.
Updated: October 31, 2007