An Introduction to Podcasts

What are podcasts?

According to a podcast (n) is “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer.”

That’s a pretty general definition, but many podcasters would agree. Podcasts come in many shapes and sizes, from music videos, talk radio,  and audio books, to instructional how-tos and academic lectures, podcasts are hard to pin-down. If you can record it, chances are you can distribute it as a podcast.

I’ve been downloading episodes of my favourite radio shows to listen to at my convenience for over a year now; although I’ve never thought of myself as a huge podcaster (in the individual-who-consumes-podcasts sense of the word), it turns out that’s exactly what I was doing. And convenience really is what podcasts are all about. Unlike radio, podcasts are downloaded from a source (sometimes automatically) and stored locally so that users can listen in when they have the time. For me, that’s usually on the bus to school or in the car around town.

While many radio shows release episodes as podcasts, not all podcasts are radio shows, and because of the ease at which users can record podcasts, there are podcasts on almost any topic you can think of. In many ways, podcasting is simply a more auditory form of blogging (which may explain why so many bloggers also podcast).

Anyway, this week I thought I’d expand my podcasting horizons and check out a couple of podcasts that aren’t affiliated with radio stations or large production budgets.

TurnPoint Radio

First up is TurnPoint Radio, a podcast that explores the future of work and the role that place plays in shaping our careers. The podcast is produced by Hubud, a coworking space in Bali, with each episode featuring one or two interviews with people who have embraced digital nomadism and left conventional work behind. These entrepreneurs and freelancers run location independent businesses from their laptops and share tips and tricks with those hoping to do the same.

The podcast itself is full of useful tidbits for those already running laptop consultancies as well as for those of us living a decidedly stationary existence. However, as a marketing tool, this podcast is genius. As a coworking space that also  runs courses that give would-be digital nomads the skills they need to launch location-independent careers, Hubud does a great job of using TurnPoint Radio to attract established entrepreneurs and convince fence-sitters that their dreams of travelling the world while working are possible (as long as they make Hubud their first stop).

Whether or not you think the itinerant lifestyle is for you, TurnPoint Radio is worth a listen for anyone interested in exploring the world of freelancing.

Upvoted by reddit

Yes, even reddit has a podcast. If you’re not familiar with the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet”, reddit is a mash between a social networking site, a news aggregator, and an online forum. And with over 3 million registered users (and many more lurkers, including me), it has an active and loyal following. Although Upvoted is a relatively new podcast (it only has 17 episodes so far), it has already amassed over 9,000 subscribers and continues to grow.

Upvoted gives redditors a chance to explore reddit’s stories and users in greater detail and gives the reddit community a look at the human side of the otherwise faceless usernames and posts that populate the site. Recent episodes have chronicled the story of Jordan Axani (/u/jaxani), a Toronto native who used reddit to find a stand-in Elizabeth Gallagher to accompany him on a round-the-world trip after he parted ways with his then-current girlfriend (the original Elizabeth Gallagher), and discussed the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide and the implications for US and Turkish foreign policy. It’s a veritable grab-bag of topics and if you’ve ever spent any time on reddit, you’ll know that it’s dreadfully easy to get lost for hours in the endless stream of curious characters and compelling chronicles.

I’d recommend both of these podcasts to anyone looking for an introduction to the format; no need to go through past episodes, just jump right in.

But before I go, I’ll leave you with a few of the other podcasts I subscribe to:

  • Wiretap (When everything is utterly absurd, hilarity ensues.)
  • Serial (THE podcast of all podcasts. If you haven’t jumped on the Serial bandwagon yet, you must. It’s frustratingly addictive.)
  • This American Life (Ever wonder what life is like for the everyday American? Look no further.)
  • The Vinyl Café (Music, essays, and, of course, Dave, the fictional second-hand record store owner that’s always getting into trouble.)
  • Quirks and Quarks (Bob McDonald hosts weekly discussions on the latest scientific and technological discoveries—and does it in a way anyone can understand.)

Let me know what your favourite podcasts are below.


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