The word arose as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast“. Thus, the files distributed are in audio format, but may sometimes include other file formats such as PDF or ePub. Videos which are shared following a podcast model are called video podcasts or vodcasts.
The distributor of a podcast maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that can be accessed through the Internet. The listener or viewer uses special clientapplicationsoftware on a computer or media player, known as a podcatcher, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically, which may seem to the user as though new episodes are broadcast or “pushed” to them. Files are stored locally on the user’s device, ready for offline use. There are many different mobile applications available for people to use to subscribe and listen to podcasts. Many of these applications allow users to download podcasts or stream them on demand as an alternative to downloading. Many podcast players (apps as well as dedicated devices) allow listeners to skip around the podcast and control the playback speed.
Some have labeled podcasting as a converged medium bringing together audio, the web, and portable media players, as well as a disruptive technology that has caused some people in the radio business to reconsider established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production, and distribution. Podcasts are usually free of charge to listeners and can often be created for little to no cost, which sets them apart from the traditional model of “gate-kept” media and production tools. Podcast creators can monetize their podcasts by allowing companies to purchase ad time, as well as via sites such a Patreon, which provides special extras and content to listeners for a fee. It is very much a horizontal media form: producers are consumers, consumers may become producers, and both can engage in conversations with each other.
Here is a list of podcasts that I currently listen too, some on a weekly basis, and others depending on when they release new shows. You can check them out by clicking on the photos and the podcast itself will give you a description. These are mostly on the Google Play store, but you can find most of these in iTunes as well.