Simply put, a podcast is radio on demand. Are you familiar with TiVo? Think of podcasts as audio TiVo. If you've ever listened to audio over your computer, then you're halfway there.
The beauty of podcasts is you can get episodes delivered to you without having to go looking for them. It's like having a newspaper on your doorstep rather than having to trudge out to the corner store. And here's the kicker: they're free.
Do I need an iPod to listen or subscribe to a podcast?
Not at all. You can listen right on your computer. Or your mobile phone. Or you can download it to the MP3 player of your choice. Most people have iPods - and I can highly recommend them, because they are so easy to use. iPods work with any kind of computer - whether you have a PC or an Apple.
To subscribe to a podcast, you should be using some sort of podcatching software. The easiest to use is iTunes, which works nicely with an iPod or as a standalone on your computer. It is free to download. You can find a comprehensive list of other podcast software - mostly free - by clicking here.
When you subscribe to a podcast, your software will automatically grab the newest episode - and all future episodes - and download it to your computer when you tell it to sync. That way, you don't have to go to each web site and seek out the new stuff. Want back episodes? Just click the "get" button in iTunes and they're yours.
Where can I use an iPod?
Wherever you want! Many people use the earbuds and carry them around while walking, gardening or exercising. Others get an adapter and listen to shows in the car (it's ruined me for traditional radio), or plug their iPods into a system on their kitchen countertop. I've even seen a model for use in the pool.
What kinds of shows can I listen to?
This one, for starters! If you can think of it, odds are someone is doing a podcast about it. Harry Potter? Try the Mugglecast or PotterCast. I listen to a lot of old time radio shows via podcast, as well as news (NPR has a great set of podcasts), business and sports. You can find listings for podcasts in the following directories: