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The Ins and Outs of Podcasting

About Podcasts
Podcasts are sound files, usually in the MP3 format, that are created for the purpose of distribution over the internet. Like any audio files, they can be listened to on your computer by using any freely available media player like iTunes, Windows Media Player , Musicmatch Jukebox, Basic Real Player or the RealPlayer Plus ($19.95) and the like. You almost certainly already have the means to listen to a podcast installed on tour PC or Mac. (The links provided will take you to the download pages for the latest version of each player. If you don't have the latest version use them to update. (Recommended.) You can also listen to podcasts on an iPod or any other portable MP3 player, just like you would any MP3 music file.

The media player you choose will depend on the MP3 player you own. The iPod uses iTunes to transfer and syncronize files. The Dell DJ uses the Musicmatch Jukebox. Other MP3 players may require other media. Check your player's operating instructions for it's particular requirements.

About Podcasters
Anyone with a computer, a microphone, some digital sound files and the will to do so can become a podcaster. There are professional podcasters like ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry who is generally credited with starting and popularizing the genre. There are amateur podcasters whose efforts are sometimes pretty awful. There are experts in a variety of areas who use podcasting to educate their subscribers in their field. There are folks with an axe to grind, something to sell, huge egos and great expectations. In other words, like bloggers, podcasters are a cross section of everyperson.

How Podcasting Works
Podcasts are syndicated through the RSS protocol. This allows you to subscribe to a podcaster's efforts and have them automatically delivered to your computer in much the same way that weather or news headlines can be delivered to your desktop. The difference is that the files are not feeds, but individual MP3 files.

Managing Podcast Subscriptions
The first step to managing your podcast subscriptions is to download an application that allows you to do so. We choose iPodder  for it's versatility and because it's free. iPodder allows you to  capture and listen to Internet audio programs anytime, anywhere. It allows users to select and download shows and music and to play whenever they want on their iPods, portable digital media players, or computers automatically, after specifying which music or shows they want to listen to. A word of caution. It's pretty easy to oversubscribe and the files are big. It doesn't take long to load up a hard drive to capacity if you are not careful and don't take the time to delete the files you have already listened to.

How to find Podcasts
Here are a few places to start looking for podcasts.

Juice is the premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere.
  • Juice is free
  • Juice supports more than 15 languages
  • Juice supports multiple media players
  • Juice is free software licensed under the GPL (open source)
  • Juice's primary purpose is to manage podcasts
  • Juice has a built-in directory with thousands of listed podcast feeds
  • Juice has auto cleanup, authentication, centralized feed management and much more
  • Juice is accessible for blind and visually impaired users (windows version only)
  • Juice is fresh!
  • Recommended Podcasts

    Becoming a Podcaster
    If you have something you want to share and you think others will want to listen, podcasting might just be for you. It does require a bit of technical expertise with both the production of the podcast and using the RSS feed. One program we've heard of that is supposed to make it easy is Propaganda. Here is what the publisher has to say about Propaganda: "Propaganda lets you create commercial-quality podcast shows with a minimum of effort. Whether it's voice recordings, music or sound effects, Propaganda can record it, import it, and store it. All your audio clips can be labeled and organized for later reference. Then just drag your audio clips into a show sequence, and preview how everything sounds. Reorder clips on the timeline, add some more content, or delete entire segments at will. And beyond sequencing, you can edit any clip to make it shorter, louder, or quieter. Propanda also handles music and sound effects. When you're satisfied with your production, simply click the Publish button and share it with the world. Propaganda will upload your completed podcast to your Web site, with full RSS, XML, and HTML support." You can download a 30 day free trial here.

    Legal Issues
    Because podcasting is an Internet rather than a broadcast service, it is not regulated by the FCC. This means that no license is required and that podcasts may contain content that is uncensored for language or subject matter. However music and other sound recordings are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without permission or paying royalties. To learn more click here


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