Podcast definition

More specifically, a podcast is a type of audio and video content when one or more hosts talk about different topics, and you can listen to it online.

Why is it called a podcast? When the new phenomenon of sending audio files on the iPod appeared in 2004, the British journalist Ben Hammersley suggested indicating it with the words iPod and broadcast merged together, and it took root.

Nowadays, podcasts are a whole sphere of spreading content, and listening to them has become the usual format for obtaining information for many.

Podcast listening

Types of podcasts

There are different genres in this variety of content because they are made by people from all sorts of spheres. However, we can distinguish several basic podcast formats:

  • Documentary. Since this type requires a lot of preparation and post-processing, the listener gets a pretty detailed story about the key topic, as well as some interesting facts or the process of creating it. It's a very diverse type of podcast, and many of them can be found on the TED Radio Hour.
  • Monologue. Such podcasts are often interesting due to how a story is presented by the host, which requires an incredible amount of preparation. But if the subject matter is interesting, it's easy, as Dan Carlin proves in his Hardcore History podcast.
  • Talk shows are one of the most popular formats, where two or more people get together and discuss a topic. It can be light and very humorous, or it can tackle quite serious topics as well. One popular example is Science Rules! with Bill Nye.
  • Conversation with a guest. An excellent format for listeners interested in a particular guest or topic they represent. It can be about anything and everything or about something specific. Andrew Warner does a great job with it on his Mixergy podcast.

Podcasts platforms

Nowadays, smartphones, PCs, and other devices have dozens and even hundreds of services where users can find podcasts, as well as listen to them and subscribe to selected episodes. Some of such services are:

  • iTunes, which is considered one of the main podcasting platforms. You can listen to the content presented there using the software application with the same name on Windows and macOS operating systems.
  • Overcast. If you are an iOS user, then this platform will be the best for listening to podcasts. In addition to the standard set of functions, this application has very interesting solutions, like automatic removal of pauses or intelligent increasing of the volume.
  • Google Podcasts offers a player a minimum set of necessary functions. This platform is used by listeners who don't need a detailed interface or multiple tools for playback settings. Its beauty lies in its simplicity.
  • SoundCloud is a music streaming service mostly used for listening to songs, but there are a lot of podcasts as well. As a platform for playing audio, it is simple to operate, which is ideal for most listeners.
Listen to podcast

And, of course, let’s not forget about YouTube. Many podcasts are published there in video format, whether it's just an audio track on top of an image or a video recording of a conversation in a studio.

Pros and cons

The main advantage of podcasts that made millions of Internet users fell in love with them is the ease of perception of information: while listening to audio, you can use your hands and eyes for other things. Also, unlike streaming, podcasting implies listening to published recordings at any time and, if necessary, returning to the previous part.

In addition, podcasts have a vast range of subjects – they cover news, scientific and niche topics, and so on. And if you listen to podcasts in a foreign language, you will be able to study it better and remember new expressions and their meaning or unusual uses of familiar words.

The only downside to podcasts is that you can spend much time listening to them. Even though they can be listened to while driving or jogging, this can become a regular activity, especially if you are interested in a large number of topics.

Some lead a podcast for self-expression and share their stories, while others approach it like a business and organize everything at the highest level. And whether you are a listener or a creator, podcasts are a fascinating and creative hobby!