Podcast Corner: An introduction to podcasts

Podcast Corner: An introduction to podcasts

What is a podcast?

Think of it as radio on demand. There are news shows, sports, long-form interviews, arts series, fiction true crime tales — if you can think it, you can probably listen to a podcast about it. 

How it differs to radio is that the listener is 100% in control, fast-forwarding at will, skipping episodes, creating your own audio experience — all while going about your day, from the gym, to the kitchen, to your daily commute.

When did podcasts start?

The term itself was first coined about 15 years ago. Apple and iTunes are key to the rise of the form, though they often felt like a chore to get to — the launch of the iPhone changed all that. 

Indeed, earlier this month, Apple announced that it is breaking up iTunes into three specialist apps: Apple Music, Apple TV, and, yes, Apple Podcasts.

Where do I get podcasts?

There are myriad podcast apps for your smartphones. For iPhone users, it’s got to be Apple Podcasts, while for those with iOS phones, Stitcher, Acast and Podcast Republic are some of the most popular. 

You can also listen on your computer.

How much do they cost?

Some podcasts use a subscriber or Patreon/crowdfunding model most are free, subsidised by short ads, usually read by the host, scattered throughout an episode.

Adnan Syed, subject of the first season of Serial
Adnan Syed, subject of the first season of Serial

What are the most popular?

The first season of Serial, investigating the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, helped define the true crime podcast genre. 

The producers said the first two seasons (unrelated) of Serial were downloaded over 250m times. 

The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life, and Fresh Air are other popular podcasts, while Chernobyl, one of the TV hits of the year, was adapted from a podcast. 

Closer to home, the Blindboy Podcast and An Irishman Abroad are two of the biggest in this country. 

The West Cork podcast, dealing with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, also generated huge interest.

Podcast Corner: An introduction to podcasts

YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS:

Ahead of next month’s 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the moon landing, CNN has just launched the first of a five-part series, APOLLO 11: Beyond the Moon, alongside a feature documentary directed by Todd Douglas Miller. 

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