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Podcasting Basics and Benefits

By Charles Hopkins Published 09/20/2007 | Marketing
The top word for the year 2005 was "podcasting," as selected by the New Oxford American Dictionary. According to one dictionary, podcasting is "the web-based broadcast which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription."

There are two explanations of the etymology of the word, "podcasting." One explanation is that it is a combination of the words "iPod" and "broadcasting," because early listeners generally downloaded audio broadcasts to their Apple iPod mp3 devices. The other explanation is that the root of the word comes from the acronym for "personal on demand," which would be pod. Personal on demand broadcasting becomes podcasting.

Podcasting began as a means to distribute music files, but soon website owners realized that podcasting the spoken word was an important way to increase the amount of useful content on their website. For example, all of the major news agencies that distribute countless pages of written information now also offer their subscribers portable audio content as well.

Podcasting is produced from two separate actions. The first action is to design, create, and record an audio show that is to be broadcast later. An audio file is created and is made available on the podcaster's website in order for listeners to download the file directly to their listening device or to listen to the file as it streams from the website. Additionally, the smart podcaster will make the audio file available through a subscription-based feed. The subscription is generally free, but some podcasters charge a small fee for the subscription. The web feed stores the audio file so that a listener can have access to the file at any time they choose.

The second action is for the listener to periodically check for new content from their favorite shows. The listener can either search for new content or download it to their digital audio device or they can enlist the help of a podcatcher or feedreader. The feedreader will search for new content from the listener's favorite shows and notify the listener when new content is available. The obvious advantage to this system is that the listeners will receive new content without ever having to search for it themselves.

Audio podcasting is an important way for a website owner to distribute their content to their audience. Many people would rather listen to audio content than to read the same content. With the use of portable audio devices, the website content can be enjoyed at a time and place that is convenient to the listener. The website owner will be able to increase the amount of visitors to their website by being able to offer podcasts as an additional source of information.