#Trypod: What is a podcast and why should I try it?

Today is the last day of March and the last day of the #trypod campaign, encouraging people who’ve never listened to a podcast before to give it a try.

What is a podcast?

Now, for those who don’t know, a podcast is essentially a serialized audio recording that you can download and/or stream online for free. Podcasts harken back to the days when radio dramas were popular and people would be glued to their radio each night, waiting to hear the next installment. The highpoint of these radio dramas was of course Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds.

Podcasts these days come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. There are many that are works of entertaining fiction covering just about every genre. And there are also many nonfiction podcasts featuring interviews and biographies and news discussions, also covering all the nonfiction categories.

How do you listen to a podcast?

The great thing about podcasts right now is that they’re really popular, which is good news, because it means they’re really easy to get access to and listen to, whether it’s on your laptop/desktop or your phone. Also they’re all free .

If you have an iPhone or use iTunes a lot, there’s a specific podcasts section where you can find pretty much every podcast in existence just by searching for it in the search bar. Click on the podcast logo and you’ll see the page with info about the podcast and all the episodes available so far. Click on “Get” with each episode and they’ll all be downloaded for you, and you’ll want to make sure you start with the first episode. Also, if you like the podcast be sure to click on “Follow” and that way new episodes will automatically be downloaded for you.

If you’re an Android user or don’t use iTunes, the best free program to go with is Podbean. There are a number of other podcast programs that people like including SoundCloud, Google Play, Overcast, Player FM and Otto Radio to name a few. Podbean is simple to use and definitely very user friendly. You can download the app for free on your phone or go to the Podbean site on your computer. Just plug in the name of the podcast and just like with iTunes, you can click to download specific episodes, and again be sure to follow to get new episodes automatically downloaded for you.

What do I listen to?

I got really into podcasts about a year and a half ago. I read a ton of audiobooks with my job, and decided to branch out to podcasts. I started with the wacky podcast which has become a massive international success called Welcome to Night Vale.  I am currently subscribed to 12 podcasts: Welcome to Night Vale, Tanis, Black Tapes, Rabbits, A Scottish Podcast, The Bridge, The Bright Sessions, Small Town Horror, The Box, Mabel, ars Paradoxica, and my own podcast, Ostium.

I’ve also recently gotten way into science podcasts and enjoy: Science Friday, The Guardian’s Science Weekly, Anthropod, StarTalk, Orbital Path, BBC World Service Space, Audio News from Archaeologica, Nature Podcast, BBC Inside Science, Science Talk, and because I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, The Giants Insider Podcast.

What I really like about the Podbean app is that it automatically downloads all the new episodes to all the podcasts I’m subscribed to and I can listen to them all in a row without having to do anything other than hit play. You can even create your own playlists of specific episodes if you want.

Why should I listen to a podcast?

So to sum up: why a podcast? If you like audiobooks and find you have lots of time when you’re driving or could be listening to something, the sheer variety of podcasts out there now is just staggering. The subjects that are covered practically guarantee you’ll find something interesting. Also there’s some incredible fictional writing out there and some great drama being recorded that’s just really entertaining, like an addictive book or engrossing movie.

What is Ostium?

Ostium is a podcast I write and create and record with some friends. It’s about a man who discovers a hidden town in Northern California where there are many doors leading to different worlds. You can find out more about it on the Ostium website, or by searching for Ostium on iTunes, Podbean, or any of those other podcast apps I mentioned.

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