Some people treat podcasts the way most kids treat broccoli:
“What is it? How does it work? Why should I have it? I don’t wanna! It’s too haaaaaard.”
But podcasts, like broccoli, are good for you. Even if you don’t think so right now, you will once you’re done reading this post. I’ll explain exactly how and why podcasts are a necessary addition to your life.
But first? We need to lay some groundwork.
What’s a Podcast, Anyway?
Merriam-Webster defines a podcast as:
a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the InternetMerriam-Webster
Hmm. Does that sound familiar to you? If so, it’s because we are now consuming the majority of our media online. The only real difference between podcasts and Netflix is that most podcasts are free.
But we’ll touch on that more later on.
Unfortunately, the official definition is already outdated. Why? Some modern podcasts release episodes exclusively on YouTube, which means there’s a visual component involved, not solely music or talk. Some podcasts are even performed in front of a live audience or streamed live! Podcasts are rapidly branching out and intertwining with other forms of entertainment.
What makes a video podcast on YouTube any different from a regular video?
Podcast videos are more sound-focused than a standard YouTube video. Many only include the visuals of their podcast cover, wave-forms that sync with the audio, and/or a visual transcript of what is being said.
However, categorizing is entirely left up to the creator. Something may start as a video and end up as a podcast, and vice versa. The creative process is a malleable one.
What about people who can’t hear or who are hard of hearing?
Most podcasts provide transcripts of their episodes in either video or text form. However, this widely varies from show to show.
Smaller and independent podcasts are usually responsive, so you can always contact them to request that they upload a transcript. But there are many big name networks and shows out there, too. Those podcasts may take several months to get back to you— if they get back to you, at all.
Are podcasts safe for children to listen to?
They are about as safe as television and computers, minus the eyestrain (video podcasts excluded). Listening to shows allows your child to use their imagination to build up a world in their mind based on what they hear. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for pre-literate children to encounter different accents and new words.
Many podcasts are listed as E for explicit, C for clean, or they have no label at all. Episodes with a C on them have the disturbing bits like profanity and such cut out. The shows without an E label should be safe for your children and your workplace. But it’s never a bad idea to read episode descriptions thoroughly before playing them.
Sometimes “safe” shows go into topics which may be disturbing for small children. In these instances, there is usually a warning to parents either at the beginning of the episode, or right before the topic. If the episode title or description seem like the show might be about something your child isn’t prepared for, I’d highly recommend previewing it before playing it for them.
How to Find Podcasts You’ll Love.
Movies, books, radio stations, and TV shows are all sorted into genres. So are podcasts. There are audio dramas (fictional podcasts), news podcasts, sports podcasts, comedy podcasts, the list goes on and on.
You probably have a type.
Some people enjoy unscripted podcasts while others prefer more thoroughly researched ones. Listeners might only listen to shows with excellent production and sound quality, while others may not care. It’s totally up to you.
What are your goals?
What do you want to get out of your podcast listening? Do you want to learn, laugh, escape? Do you want to be chilled to the bone, or do you want to hear sweet stories full of romance? Narrowing this down will help you hone in on podcasting categories that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
Ask your friends.
Chances are someone in your life knows someone who knows someone that listens to a podcast. And your friends know your likes and dislikes. If they give you a recommendation, give it a listen!
There are plenty of articles showcasing the “Best [Number] [Genre] Podcasts of [Year].”
Have a hobby you enjoy? Try searching for that plus “best podcasts.” Is there something specific that you’d like to learn? Such as how to deal with trauma in a way that is healthy, or how to prepare for your first child?
If you don’t get any results, try making your search less narrow like “mental health” and “parenting” instead of the more specific trauma and parenting prep examples used above.
Ask your network.
There are still some holdouts, but almost everyone has a social media account of one kind or another. And odds are high that someone you don’t directly know sees your content.
Use that to your advantage!
Social media can be an excellent place to ask for recommendations. But don’t forget your public posts are…well, public. Please don’t include anything in your recommendation posts that could be used against you. Stay safe out there, champ!
Browse categories in a podcast app.
Most podcast players have a section of trending, editor-recommended, or featured area. These are podcasts with huge audiences and, typically, spectacular production quality. Many of these are hosted by celebrities, political leaders, and influencers. If you have a favorite performer, writer, or industry tycoon, it’s likely they have a podcast, too.
More content from some of your favorite people? How could you not?
I know, right?
How Can Podcasts Make Your Life Better?
If you’ve made it this far into the article, congratulations! And thank you? Yes, thank you.
After reading up to this point, you may have already guessed at some potential benefits podcasts may have.
Podcasts are free bonus material by your favorite people, about your favorite things.
You can use podcasts to stay on top of trends on your industry— while jogging. Not only are podcast shows informative and entertaining, they are also hands-free!*
Many people enjoy listening to podcasts on long commutes, while cleaning the house, to help them sleep, and when they exercise. Depending on your workplace’s policy, listening while you work can make a long workday fly by. Personally, I prefer to listen when I’m drawing.
Podcasts can emotionally support you, they can increase your knowledge, or they can reduce your stress. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
If nothing else, podcast shows can definitely help you do better on trivia night!
Okay. You’ve realized how great this is, you’ve gotten podcast recommendations from online or from friends. Now what?
You need a podcast player.
Where do I get a podcast player?
The good news is that if you’re reading this post, you probably have the device and tech skills to work a podcast player.
There is no bad news.
There are a wide variety of podcast players out there, but one of the most popular is Apple Podcasts (previously known as iTunes). Ratings and reviews posted to this app have a huge impact on podcasts’ reach (the number of people who see a podcast’s page). This is true of any podcast player, but Apple Podcasts seems to have the largest reach.
Google Podcasts is another popular player for PCs and Android phones.
Here are a few other podcast players in no particular order. Everyone’s UI (user interface) tastes are different. It’s best to try several until you find one that fits.
Oh, did I mention that all of those apps are free?
But what if I don’t have a smartphone?
You’re in luck, because most laptops and computers allow you to download apps, too!
If your Mac or PC is a little older, you may have to go back to Google and search for “how to download apps [Mac/Windows] [version number].”
If you’re not sure which version of Windows or Mac you have, this should help you figure it out for Windows.
If your Internet browser is Google Chrome, you can also the RSS Feed Reader extension.
The RSS what?
Every podcast is hosted on a server and assigned its own RSS feed. An RSS feed is a lot of code that is constantly updated with content. As RSS, it’s difficult for the average person to understand. That’s why you need a feed reader. If the show you want to listen to has their RSS feed link listed on their website, all you have to do is copy it and add it to RSS Feed Reader or any other RSS reader you already use.
Congrats, you are officially a Podcast Junkie!
Why not join us on the Podcast Junkie server to chat with podcast hosts and other podcast lovers?
Hope to see y’all there! And until then, have a good one.
*Sorry, hard-of-hearing and deaf friends. We still don’t have affordable, portable holograms to cast transcripts in front of your face. At least not any that will allow you to see whatever you’re working on. But, hopefully, one day we will.