What is a podcast?

The term “podcast” can refer both to an individual file, and a collection of files residing at a unique web feed address. An idividual podcast file is a digital recording of an audio broadcast that you download from the Internet. Podcasts are MP3 files that you play on your MP3 player. There are several different ways you can listen to a podcast:

  • You can click on a link to an MP3 file (a podcast) and play it immediately. You must have an MP3 player installed and configured on your computer.
  • You can download and save the MP3 file to your computer and play it later on your MP3 player.
  • You can subscribe to and automatically receive an RSS “feed” or collection of new podcasts from your favorite web sources using podcasting software that runs in the background. You then choose a file from the feed list to to play on your computer or transfer to a device like an iPod.

How do I subscribe to a podcast feed?

A podcast feed is an XML document containing a collection of individual podcasts and summary information. As new content is added, it is automatically downloaded to the podcasting software on your computer. To receive a podcast feed, you “subscribe” to it by adding its URL to a software program that can interpret XML information. Some browsers — such as the current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari — have built-in RSS readers. If you’re using a browser that doesn’t support RSS, there are a variety of RSS readers (aka “news readers,” aka “news aggregators”) available on the Web.  (Learn more. Offsite link warning)