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Listening to Podcasts

Listening to podcasts is a fairly easy process. It doesn't require any hardware beyond what you're already using to read this web page. It doesn't require the purchase of any software. It certainly doesn't require an iPod.

There are a few steps involved in listening to podcasts, and we'll step you through them here. A couple of the steps involve installing free software, a couple involve deciding what you want to listen to.

Find and Install Multimedia Software

This may sound complicated, but in truth you probably already have this on your system. Windows Media Player comes standard on most windows computers, and equivalent programs come with MacOS and Linux.

If you're unhappy with this, I suggest the Windows users look into Winamp, and Mac users pick up iTunes.

Find and Install a Podcast Aggregator

A podcast aggregator is similar to a program that watches a web site and lets you know when it changes. In this case it watches a podcast feed (which looks very similar to a web site, and can even be displayed in browsers) and downloads new audio media when the feed changes.

The most popular free aggregators are iPodder and Doppler Radio. Installing them is just a matter of downloading the installation file and running it.

Find Podcasts That You Like

This is both the hardest and the funnest part of podcast listening. There are literally thousands of podcast shows out there. Web sites like, Podcast Alley, Podcast Pickle, and Digital Podcasting act as rating services for these feeds to help separate the good stuff from the garbage.

In order to get your feet wet, I'm going to include a couple of my favorite podcasts in the next section, so you can just grab those and then find others you might like later.

Load the Feed's Address Into your Aggregator and Downloading

This is similar to copying a URL into the address line of your web browser. In this case, though, the page is maintained as a long-term link to regularly download media from the source. These media sources are called "RSS Feeds". Here are the links to a few of my favorite podcasts:

  • Intellectual Icebergs:
  • IT Conversations, Tech Nation:
  • Daily Sonic:
  • Insomnia Radio:

Now that you have the addresses, here's what you do with them.

For iPodder, open iPodder and click on the little green plus sign on the icons bar. It'll pop up a window and set the cursor on the URL line. Copy the address from this page and paste the address onto that line. Click "Save". You should now have the feed displayed in your list of subscriptions. If you click the green up and down arrows, iPodder will go out and grab a few of the most recent episodes from that podcast.

To add a podcast to Doppler Radio, you click on the large, friendly "Add feed" button at the bottom of the window. This brings up a "Feed" dialog, with the cursor conveniently placed in the URL field on that window. You then copy the address into that URL field and click "Add feed" at the bottom of the dialog. You can ignore all of the other fields for now - most of them will be filled in by the podcast's RSS file. This will result in the feed being displayed in the main window. Doppler will download episodes from all of your podcasts when you click the large, friendly "Rerieve now" button at the bottom of the main window.

Congrats, you now have podcasts on your hard drive.

Playing the Podcasts

This is by far the easist part of this. If you want to listen to a podcast on a windows machine, you just find the file created and double-click it. By default, iPodder will stick the files in "My Documents/My Received Podcasts/<podcast name>/<filename>". If you want to use a fancier media player, then you should follow the instructions that come with it.

If you happen to have a portable media player, then you have the option of loading the podcasts onto that and listening to them while on the go. Again, this is implementation specific.