Podcasting: 101  »  What is a Podcast?

What is a Podcast?

In tech lingo, the term “podcast,” meaning an audio show that’s distributed via an RSS feed to a computer or mobile device, is useless for most people.

You need to know the answer to THIS question: what is a podcast used for?

A podcast is an on-demand radio program usually run by anywhere from 1 to 5 people and is either focused on the personality and opinions of the podcaster or focused on a certain topic, in some cases it's both.

It’s a way of sharing ideas and building an audience, without breaking the bank. Many schools and nontraditional educational programs are also turning to podcasts to fill educational gaps with mobile learning.

Some of the movers and shakers in podcasting have this to say about what a podcast is:

"It's the future of Audio."
Norman Pattiz - Podcastone

"The most democratic way to put out content."
Leo Laporte - TWiT.tv

Podcasting Definition

A podcast, by definition, is separate from a traditional radio program - you can take it anywhere and listen to a specific show on your schedule. Essentially, a podcast is the equivalent of Netflix, but with audio. It lets you listen to what you want, when you want.

Pretty cool, right?

Of course, anywhere is a big place, so it's nice to break down where and how people listen to podcasts.

What is a podcast? image

Here are a few:

  1. On their car’s radio while commuting, using USBs or streaming WiFi audio
  2. On a computer while making a presentation at work
  3. Using your favorite machine at the gym
  4. While cleaning the house, taking a shower, doing yard work, lounging at the pool...

You get the picture.

Who Listens To Podcasts?

But do you realize just how large the podcast audience is? How many people are listening regularly to podcasts, and how many people are expected to do so in the near future?

The numbers are staggering.

Podcasting statistics

In 2009, 43% of Americans ages 12 and up had listened to a podcast. In 2010, that number grew to 45%, or 70 million Americans over age 12. According to RawVoice, the number of podcast listeners increased from 25 million in 2009 to 75 million in 2014 – a number that is expected to continue increasing rapidly.

When it comes to how they listen, the options are almost endless:

  1. From the show's website
  2. From iTunes (free)
  3. From a podcast app on a mobile device
  4. From Stitcher

There are literally dozens of ways someone can listen to a podcast. Podcasts are popping up in unexpected places, too – like school classrooms. In fact, mobile learning is a quickly growing area.

Something that might surprise you is how important cars, phones, and computers are to podcast listeners. A survey conducted in 2010 showed that the majority of podcast listeners prefer enjoying podcasts from their desks or mobile phones, and aren’t fans of dedicated listening devices. They like social media and index highly for social networking characteristics.

As of 2010, two-thirds of podcast listeners had connected an iPod or MP3 player to their car’s audio system to listen to digital audio files – a number that likely largely underrepresents the current reality, courtesy of modern car and audio tech improvements over the past few years.

Podcasting’s Impact is Growing Thanks to Several Factors

From new phone and tablet options, increased use of multimedia in classrooms, the home, and the office, to wearable tech, modern lifestyles are perfectly suited to the rise of the podcast, or digital audio broadcast program.

Although the origin of the name “podcast” refers to the iPods popularity and the development of audio files for its use, the media has come a long way from an Apple pet project. Outside observers report that podcast consumers now behave much like the consumers of most other mainstream media, and that is very likely what podcasts themselves are becoming – the newest form of mainstream media.

It’s the digital age. The era when the self is at the heart of publishing in all forms, and a period when the number of individuals who can publish content has never been higher. Like Gutenberg’s printing press, the podcast is a seemingly small change to an existing process that’s set to alter the way publishing happens and consumers enjoy content. Listeners are ready, and so are content creators.

But the technical aspect of how to start a podcast, and how to use it…that’s another story. You can read a lot about how this is done, but the best way to learn how to record, edit, and publish a podcast is to just do it.

Don’t worry – we won’t leave you unsupported and confused. We’ll walk you through the process and help you dominate the medium of audio broadcasting with your own podcast.

One of the most important steps you need to figure out is how to use podcast hosting as a money- and time-saving tool – which is obviously where we come in…we’re experts in the area.

You (yes you) can start your very own on-demand radio program from your living room, garage, couch, studio, desk… in just 6 easy chapters. You've already read through the first chapter. The next 6 sections of our guide will lay out why podcasting is the fastest growing content platform and how you can get ready for your podcast.

We’ll also tackle all the little details, like recording, editing, publishing, and tracking your show.

Are you ready to get started?