What are podcasts?
Simplest definition they are the radio programs of the 21st century.
But not quite.
Almost 100 years ago radio (the medium, the invention) was the mass media wunderkind and juggernaut and technological cutting edge of the world. It united the world and united disparate geographically separated people in a way that was largely inconceivable just generations before. It redefined communication, but more it redefined entertainment.
No longer did you have to go to New York or LA or London to see the greatest and most exciting acts of the day, the comedies, the dramas, the concerts, the debates, but now with radio the greatest acts in the world, this sea of entertainment, and news, and interests… with a flip of a switch, comes to you.
Radio of a hundred years ago was a watershed evolution in the way people communicated, it expanded the width of our collective conversation, even if lessening to some degree the depth of the impact of the individual and the local community on that conversation.
TV tends to get the hype, but is nothing more than an extrapolation of that model that radio defined, radio being the true 1st evolutionary leap of the 20th century. The next real evolutionary dialog changer of the 20th century would come at the end of that century, with the mass adoption of the WWW, the Internet. The Internet into the 21st century has been the evolutionary next leap in communication from the medium Radio.
That brings us to podcasts and VOD. In a world where traditional terrestrial radio and television just doesn’t meet the needs of a 21st century audience, the on demand nature of podcasts and VOD platforms such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, perfectly fits the needs of an internet age that wants to “watch what it wants whenever it wants”.
And podcasts (recorded audio files on a near infinite range of topics, available for streaming or download or subscription through select syndication hosts) particularly are dear to me, as someone who grew up on the idea of radio drama, the theater of the mind, and loving shows like THE SHADOW, ESCAPE, SUSPENSE, and recognizing the intimate power of the audio format to move you in a way that television rarely does, I’m thrilled to see the flourishing of audio drama and audio commentary in the 21st century.
So that in a horribly non-brief way is what podcasts are and why they rock. But now how do you get them?
There are a bunch of ways to do it, depending if you are doing it on your smart phone, or tablet, or media player, or computer. I use an android tablet, so that’s the process I’m going to cover here. And we’ll wrap this puppy up with some quick shows to get you started with in 2015:
1- Get a tablet. My personal preference is Android 10″. Android OS because I don’t want to put up with the gatekeeping of Apple or Microsoft, and I like the bang for the buck I get. Your preference may be different and that’s perfectly fine, just telling you what works for me. As far as 10″ , I like reading books, magazines, and comics on the tablet, so that form factor works great for me. All this to say you do your homework, you can end up with a great tablet for around Ebook prices.
2- Find an app to use to subscribe to podcasts: Being tech savvy, I have tried MANY, MANY apps looking for the most useful, least obtrusive podcast app (also known as a podcatcher) and most of them are ultimately disappointing. The exception, and my current podcatcher of choice is PODKICKER. You can easily stream shows or you can download shows you want to keep for posterity, the “WTF Robin Williams” episode comes immediately to mind. Have been using PODKICKER for most of 2014, and still using it in 2015. Highly Recommended!
3- And now last but not least… choose podcasts to start your 2015 off right. Just type the following into your podcatcher search engine to subscribe to them, and job done.
WTF WITH MARC MARON
B MOVIE CAST
Start with those few, guys and gals, as they were all shows I consumed voraciously in 2014, and will remain in rotation in 2015 as new shows are discovered.
Hope this primer has been helpful!
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