From the Kenosha News on 8-27-06

You don’t need an iPod for Podcasts

What is a podcast? A podcast is an audio or video file, such as a radio program or music video, downloaded over the Internet using RSS for listening on a mobile device or personal computer. The word itself comes from the combination of two words: iPod and broadcast. A podcast differs from streaming audio or video in that you download it to your computer and then listen or watch so you don’t have to stay on-line to play the file. The biggest misconception is that you need an iPod to get a podcast. Not true!

To get a podcast, you must have a computer – Windows or Mac; an internet connection – high speed is best; and the right software. While any RSS feed reader will allow you to subscribe to podcasts, I recommend that novices who don’t already have an RSS reader use iTunes software for podcasts. ITunes runs on both Macs and PCs, and it is free. Go on-line to www.apple.com/itunes/ to download the software or learn more. (For more information on RSS, access my article archive at www.sabbarpublications.com; click News Archive, then scroll down to the 1-1-06 article.)

Once you install and launch iTunes, look for the Podcast item in the left-hand column. Click on it to view the podcasts that you are subscribed to. Many sites that offer podcasts have specific instructions on their web sites about how to subscribe. For example, if you go to the Meet the Press main page at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/, there is a special section on the right side for watching or downloading episodes on-line. Click the link to download the podcast. When you do, it shows a list of shows with specific buttons for subscribing via iTunes. When you click the iTunes button, it will launch iTunes and take you to the Music Store, which is confusing since you’re not loading music and you’re not buying it. Click the Subscribe button. You may see a dialog box telling you that it will download the current episode and all future ones; if so, click Subscribe. The item should now appear on your Podcast list, and the first available episode will begin to download.

If the site does not have instructions on how to get the podcast (e.g. www.podcastcentral.com), the usual way to subscribe is to drag the link, which is usually an rectangular orange icon, from the web page to the podcast list in iTunes. You may have to rearrange your windows on the screen to do this.

Another site with interesting podcasts, its own instructions, and a good overview of podcasting is www.lonelyplanet.com/podcasts/whatis.cfm.

Favorite podcasts of some of my colleagues include:

Whatever your interest, there’s a podcast for it, and you can listen or watch even without an iPod.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 8-27-06