Winter 2010 CSANews Issue 77  |  Posted date : Dec 16, 2010.Back to list

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a computer file, usually audio and sometimes video, which can be listened to on, or downloaded from the Internet.

Think of a podcast as a pre-recorded radio show transmitted by the Internet. Many large media companies and magazines offer podcasts. Because the cost is minimal to put out a podcast (the cost of a microphone, computer and Internet connection), thousands of amateurs also release shows of varying quality.
Almost all audio podcasts are MP3 files, and the simplest way to listen is to double-click a show you've just downloaded, and listen through your computer speakers. You can also transfer the file to an MP3 player (or an iPod) and listen to it when you are away from your computer.

How do I download and listen to podcasts?

First, you need a podcast player. There are a few different choices when it comes to a program for playing podcasts, but we find that iTunes is the most user-friendly.

If you have an Apple iPod, you probably already use iTunes, as it is the default program used to manage the contents of your iPod (music, movies, etc.). If you don't already have iTunes, it can be downloaded at www.apple.com/itunes/download for free.

Open up iTunes, go to the music store and click on the podcast directory along the black "options" bar at the top of the player. It is called a "Music Store," but there is usually no cost or fee to play or subscribe to a podcast.

When you click on the podcast directory, you can choose to review all of the audio or video files available, or you can break down the options into sub-directories which offer selections such as arts, politics, news or technology. If there is a particular topic or personality you want to hear from or about, type the topic name in the "search store" window at the top right-hand corner of the player and all relevant podcasts will be displayed on your screen.

When you find a podcast that interests you, click on the podcast link and you'll be given a brief description of the show and a list of episodes. The most current will usually be listed first, with the rest in descending order. Using your mouse, scroll over the episode you want to hear. A play button will appear. Click on the play button and listen. It's as easy as that. 

If you've found a show that interests you and you want to hear more, click "subscribe to this podcast." iTunes will automatically send new episodes to your iTunes player as they are published and, if you like, you can choose to download past episodes as well.

If you want the podcast to be portable like a record, tape or an audio book, you can load it onto an MP3 player (a digital walkman) and listen to it at your leisure. You can use earphones, or you can plug your MP3 player into some computer speakers. 

You can also copy podcasts, or "burn" them onto an audio CD and listen to them in your car, on your home stereo, or on your portable CD player. 

How to download the "CSA/Medipac Report on Sunday Showcase" podcast using iTunes:
  • Start up iTunes
  • Go to the "iTunes Store" on the left menu bar (you will have to log in)
  • Click on "Podcasts" on the top menu bar
  • Using the Search feature on the top right-hand side of the screen, search for "CSA/Medipac Report"
  • Scroll over the list of episodes with your mouse and click the play button (which will appear) to listen to the podcast
  • Click "Subscribe" to download the most current episode; when new podcasts are added, they will be automatically downloaded as well