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An Introduction to Podcasting

by Brian Russell
May 7, 2005

From In short, podcasting involves the recording of internet radio or similar internet audio programs. These recordings are then made available for download to your iPod or other portable digital audio device. You can listen to the podcast internet radio program while you are away from your computer or at a different time than the original program was broadcast.

Podcasting, right now, is a new twist on internet radio. It uses existing Internet standards, freely available audio recording software and hardware, and a new type of software to automate the process of downloading and storing your audio files. This allows you to listen to your audio when and where ever you want.

Podcasting isn't limited to sharing and receiving audio files. You can share the video files you make too. Theoretically you could share all kinds of multimedia files, no matter the file format. (ex. MP3, MOV, OGG, WMV, etc.)

Tip: You don't have to have an MP3 player or iPod to listen to or make podcasts. :) You can listen to them right on your computer.

Right now a lot of Podcasts are talk radio style. Some music is being included in the Podcasts, but this has complicated legal ramifications. I'm am not a lawyer but I suggest you make ALL of the parts of your Podcast show. This way you own it and can do what ever you want to with it.

Tip: This is a good site to check out if you are concerned about the copyright of your work. Plus check out the definition of Intellectual Property here

There are two parts two any kind of communication, sharing and receiving. Before you can share something you need to make it. Here are a few excellent Podcast creation tutorials.

How to podcast with your Mac

How to podcast for FREE

How to podcast with Windows with free software

Find the free audio recording and editing software Audacity here. It's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux

Tip: Making a Podcast is no different than recording other audio on a computer. What makes Podcasting truly unique and amazing is HOW you share it.


The sharing part of Podcasting uses RSS (Really Simple Syndication).
Here is a good definition of the RSS protocol.

Don't worry, you don't have to hand code an xml file every time you want to Podcast. There are several ways to automate this too. A lot of blog software can find the MP3 you linked to on your blog and put it into the RSS for you. That's how I do it. :) Find out how bellow.

For those interested here's the low down techie details. It's all about inserting a new bit of code called an enclosure tag into the xml file. Go here to read more about this.

The enclosure tag inside the RSS 2.0 or 0.92 feed (an xml file) lets software and people know that a media file (like a MP3) is "enclosed" in this feed (just linked to really). The enclosure tag gives a URL to the file, says how big it is in kb, and what file type it is.

I use Movable Type for my blog and someone has written a plugin that AUTOMATICALLY inserts the enclosure tag in my RSS feed (xml file). When I link to a MP3 in my blog entry it puts an enclosure tag in my index.xml file. This is the beauty of templates and built on the fly html. Here is the link to the Movable Type plugin I use.


Getting your podcast shows can be done many ways. The new automatic way is part of what makes this so cool. This involves using a software client. Here is the definition of client as it relates to software and the internet.

First download the free podcast software. Here are a few of the clients available now.

iPodder - Mac OS X, Windows, Linux

iPodderX - Mac OS X

Nimiq - Windows

Bashbodder - Linux

Tip: The files sizes of Podcast can be rather large. It's a good idea to use this software on a computer that has a broadband connection. (ex. DSL, Cable Modem) A dial up Internet connection would take a LONG time. 9 Stay tuned! Some new advances in software tech might changes this very soon. Try searching on for Bit Torrent.

[ Note: Software changes rapidly. Try using to search for the software incase these links don't work. You can also goto to find more podcast clients.]

How to use Podcast Clients

The best place to learn about a specific piece of software and how to use it is always the software's website. Most good software developers make documentations and tutorials to help you. But here are some of the basic concepts of Podcast clients.

First you need to find a podcast RSS feed to subscribe to. (ex. Remember how we discussed the sharing part of Podcasting? The end result of sending a podcast is an RSS file. (Tip: A RSS file is a *type* of xml file) Here is the definition for RSS

Most of the Podcasting clients have built in directories to look for Podcast RSS feeds. But there are several good Podcasting directories on the web. These directories sort the Podcast RSS feeds by subject much like a website directory does. The best Podcast directories have the URL of the podcasters website and a description of what the show is all about. Some directories are even using rating systems so you can see what the top 10 most popular are.

Here are some of the best Podcasting directories on the web now.

When you find a link to a Podcast RSS feed you want to subscribe too (and listen to all that cool audio) you need to copy the link *not* click on it in your browser. Your browser can download the MP3 from the Podcasters site but not from the RSS feed. If the link to the Podcast RSS feed is written out as text on the html page you can always just select it and copy it. But here are some other ways to do it.

On Windows:
Right click on the link and select 'Copy Link Location'

On Macintosh:
Ctrl Click on the link and 'Copy Link Location'

Tip: A Podcast RSS feed can have allot of different files extensions. (For example: you can see xml, rss, php, etc.) A sure fire way to make sure it's a Podcast feed is to look at it. Try clicking on a link to a feed

Once you have the Podcast RSS feed link you need to paste it into your Podcast client software. Each piece of software may accept these links differently so check your software's documentation. But here is an example for iPodder for Windows.

1) Start iPodder
2) Click the text field just to the right of the text that says 'Add Feed Manually'
3) Past your Podcast RSS feed link into the text field
4) Click the 'Add' button

That's it! You've manually added a Podcast RSS feed link to iPodder. Now all you have to do is click the 'Check for new Podcasts' button.

If you have any questions or comments please send me an email at brussell(at)ibiblio(dot)org.

Author: Brian Russell
Podcast feed:

Blog entries and web pages in general are living documents. They can be changed from time to time. I promise to update this one the best I can to keep it current. This technology stuff moves fast! This URL is the most up-to-date place for Podcasting info

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