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A podcast about podcasts

A podcast about podcasts

This episode is a meta-podcast. A podcast about podcasts.  That's right. I'm on a mission to making podcasts hugely popular among interpreters.

What is a podcast, you ask? The short answer is: LangFM is one. And here is the long answer, according to Wikipedia:

A podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio or digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism and portmanteau derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players.

Broadcasters, like the BBC, produce content for the airwaves. Once aired, that content is put online and can be subscribed to as a podcast. This way, you don't have to wait for an episode of your favourite programme, you can just download it and listen to it when you have time.

Podcasts are not a new phenomenon, they have been produced for years. But recently, there has been a spike in popularity because of outliers like NPR's Serial murder mistery podcast. And just recently, US president Barack Obama, was a guest on an independent podcast. Well worth a listen, if you ask me.

Now for some etymology. Pod-Cast. What's with the portmanteau? It's a combination of iPod - Apple's widely popular music player - and broadcast. And the term was not coined by clever PR people in California, as you may think. No, it was British journalist Ben Hammersley who just made it up, when he had to stretch a Guardian article way back in 2004 when all that internet stuff was still new and unknown. (BTW: If you want to know more about this story, you can - what else? - listen to this podcast.)

So much for the word podcast. Are there any other important words? Yes!

  • (News)feed - a stream of new things (text, like on Twitter; photos, like on Facebook or Instagram; audio/video)
  • Episode - one item in the feed, like an episode of a radio series
  • Show notes - more information about an episode, including links, images, videos etc. so you can get more information about the people and topics in an episode. Will often show directly in the player, else on the podcast homepage.
  • Client - the app used to play podcasts and subscribe to them

Most podcasts have a website, so you can just go to that page and listen to the programme in the browser. Using a podcast client, or app on your smartphone, however, is much more convenient. You can manage your podcast subscriptions, discover new shows and make sure that recent episodes are downloaded automatically, ready for your listening pleasure. As an iPhone or iPad user, you can just use the built-in Podcasts app to get started. It covers all the bases. On Android, there is no default app, so head to the Google Play Store and check there. Free options are available, but my personal favourite is Pocket Casts, which costs a few euros.

Now you know what a podcast is and how you can subscribe, how about some recommendations? You don't have to subscribe to dozens podcasts, like I do, but the following programmes are definitely worth your time.

First of all, there are the usual suspects, i.e. the broadcasters. Depending on which languages you speak and/or listen to, you will certainly find something to listen to.

There are also many excellent smaller, independent podcasts on all kinds of topics. Do check out The world in words and The Allusionist. If you want to learn more about the brave new world of technology, What's Tech? is a good choice. Lastly, if you enjoy TEDTalks, you can also get them delivered regularly as audio or video podcasts.

Did I wet your appetite? I certainly hope so. That's it for today, please tune in again for the LangFM podcast. Bye! 

Das Alexander-Doppelpack

Das Alexander-Doppelpack

A conversation with Barry Olsen

A conversation with Barry Olsen