So, with all of those iPods out there, sure you’ve happened upon podcasts, haven’t you? Suprisingly, a few days ago I asked my students about which podcasts they were listening to and there were few students who even knew what I was referring to.
(For a second, I was thrilled to be technologically ahead of the curve relative to my iPod toting, cell phone clicking, iTunes addicted, laptop slinging teenage students)
I have been listening to podcasts for a couple years now. Before I get to a few recommendations, let me give a quick explanation (in case you are stuck back in 1985 with my students! Kidding, of course).
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a podcast is “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player,” but the generally accepted definition has expanded to include video as well as audio. Originally derived from a combination of “broadcasting” and “iPod ™,” the word was declared “word of the year” when it was added to the dictionary at the end of 2005.
Simply put, a podcast is a radio program that is recorded and made available so that you can download it and listen to it whenever you want. But it isn’t just radio programs anymore. It is video programs, college class presentations, etc. Just about anything. In fact I used to host a bi-weekly podcast untitled “Family History Minute” that was actually downloaded pretty frequently. The FHM podcast isn’t online anymore (I ran out of ideas), but it was fun while it lasted. People typically go to iTunes, then to the Podcast department, and that is where they can download, FOR FREE, any podcast they want…
I used to listen to podcasts when I drove my 20 minute commute to work. Loved it. Here are a few I listen to anytime I have a long drive or a few extra minutes…
#1 RadioLab (My all-time favorite): I would say it is a program about scientific topics, but that is a bit too limiting a description. RadioLab is the best-produced podcast on the planet. You can go back and listen to every episode and they are all well done. Don’t have an iPod or MP3 device? No problem. You can listen right from RadioLab’s website. I highly, highly recommend this one.
#2 This American Life (My almost all-time favorite): This podcast captures life in America. It is witty, well-produced, and causes me to really think. This was one of the first podcasts I ever became interested in, and I’ve loved it for a couple years now.
#3 Car Talk (Almost everyone’s favorite): You’ve never listened to Car Talk on NPR? You are missing out. I know virtually nothing about vehicles. Seriously. Nothing. But to describe this podcast as being about cars is completely missing the mark. I find this one of the funniest shows online, on radio, on anything. Anywhere. Maybe it is just my kind of humor…
Well, there’s more. But I’m at 513 words already, and that’s 200 more words than any of you want to read….