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What is podcasting and vodcasting?

Podcasting recording studio sign

Podcasting - and its video brother, vodcasting - are good ways of getting free entertainment on the internet. In this article, we’ll tell you how to find podcasts and give you some tips on how to produce your own one.

Guy Clapperton | 9th September 2010

You might have heard of podcasting – which is a form of radio without an actual radio set. You download the programmes and listen to them on your computer, at your convenience, rather than when a broadcaster decides to put them on.

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Finding them can be tough if what you’re after might only appeal to a small minority. If you have an account with the Apple iTunes store, or any of its competitors, then type the subject in which you’re interested into the search box, and plenty will come up.

Otherwise is another useful listing. Here you’ll find a lot of independent people who are making their programmes free for you to click on and download.

Cut-down versions

There are also the professionals who offer cut-down versions of their programmes for listening to later.

Many BBC programmes do this. The Today programme, for example, offers a podcast for people who can’t listen to the show on the spot. This is available through the Today programme website or from the iTunes store, by subscription, so you can put it onto your iPhone or other media player.

Many others have followed suit and offer a podcast version of an on-the-air show in the same way. This might sound a little like BBC iPlayer and in many ways it is. The difference is that in a true podcast (or vodcast) you should be able to save them to a mobile device, whether it’s a phone, media player or iPad, and carry them around with you.

Of course the technology is so new that the rules are moving all the time, so something we say isn’t a podcast might look a lot like one next week!

Producing your own one

You can also prepare your own podcast, and many people do. Speak into your computer’s microphone (or buy a better one if you want a more professional standard) and upload either to your own website or to Apple’s iTunes store, after you’ve gone through their approval process (details on the Apple site).

Beware though – putting a podcast up is relatively simple. Making it good is more difficult. You’ll start to appreciate what the Terry Wogans and Libby Purveses of this world actually do to enliven a broadcast. Marketing it and getting people listening to it is an even finer art!

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton is a journalist specialising in writing about technology as well as small business for several major broadsheets. He broadcasts occasionally on BBC Radio stations and reviews the newspapers on the BBC News Channel.