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Join the Podcast Generation!

Dear Reader,

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and mentioned that I have a podcast (yes, I routinely try and convert my friends to podcast listeners.) His response to me was “Yes, I have an iPod but I’m just not a member of the podcast generation”. His problem is that he is suffering from information overload. Others that I have talked to complain that they just don’t know where to start. No matter what your excuse, if you are not listening to podcasts on a regular basis then you are missing out on a lot (I mean a LOT) of good information, tips and entertainment that is there for the taking.

So, I’m going to make it my mission to try and convert people to be podcast listeners. I hope, along the way, I’ll pick up a few listeners to my podcasts but honestly, a rising tide floats all boats. So, if you don’t currently listen to podcasts on a regular basis, keep reading. If you are already a member of the podcast generation(you subscribe to at least one podcast), I want you to send the URL to this article to at least 5 friends that don’t. If you’ve got a twitter account, tweet it. Let’s see if we can’t increase the number of podcast listeners significantly in the next month.

Editors Note: If you are in a hurry, just skim the bullet points and visit the URLs.

Cal’s 4 Step Program to joining the Podcast Generation:

1: Figure out how you are going to listen.
If you don’t have an mp3 player, you are not out in the cold, it means you will most likely have to listen to them on your computer. I have 2 iPods myself and a total of 8 in the family and I still listen to about 25% of my podcasts on my computer. So don’t fret if you don’t have an mp3 player.

Most podcast sites these days have an embedded flash player. If you are going to be listening via your computer, take advantage of these. The only downside here is that you have to go check each podcasts site on a regular basis. The embedded players are great for testing out a podcast to see if you want to subscribe though.

If you don’t want to have to check each site regularly, You will however, want a “Podcatcher”. A podcatcher is a program similar to an RSS feed reader that gathers all the feeds from all the podcasts you want to subscribe to and puts them in one place. Your podcatcher checks each feed on a regular basis to make sure that when you are ready to listen, you have the content downloaded and ready to go.

By far, the most popular podcatcher on earth is iTunes. iTunes is free from apple and comes with every iPod. It works on Windows and on OSX. You don’t have to have an iPod to use iTunes but if you have one it makes life so easy.

There are a lot of other podcatchers and originally I was going to list all I could find. However, in researching the list I found that someone else has already done the research. If you don’t want to use iTunes, visit PodCatcherMatrix.org and find the podcatcher that is right for you.

I know that Microsoft packages software with the Zune but I do not yet have one so I can’t comment on it. If you have a Zune and the software, please leave a comment telling us what you like/don’t like about it.

2: Figure out what you are going to listen to.
This may sound simplistic but you really don’t want to listen to everything out there. (Actually, you probably couldn’t but that’s beside the point) To get started, pick one topic that you like and find a single podcast you like on that topic. This could be more difficult than you think. First, there are several good podcast directories out there. If you use iTunes, by far the most popular is the iTunes store. It is, however, not the only source.

Find one show that you like and subscribe. Then as you have time, find a second, a third, etc. Since most shows release every week or every other week, if you are using podcasts to fill time on your commute, you will eventually find how many you need to fill the void. Resist the urge to type in a keyword into iTunes and then subscribe to every one of them. Podcasts vary in quality of content an production values. Not all the high quality content podcasts have high production values and that’s ok. However, you will want to be selective in who you subscribe to. Also, don’t be afraid to drop a podcast that is not filling a need.Speaking as a podcaster I want “listeners” not “subscribers”.

3: For the first month, commit time each week to look for new podcasts
If you do this for a month, it will become as natural as checking your email. Just check the directories for new podcasts that match your keywords. If there is a new one and the description looks interesting, either subscribe to it in your podcatcher or give it a listen on-line if you’ve got the time.

4: Participate
This is where most of the podcast generation fail. Podcasters want feedback, we want lots of it. So if you like a podcast, take the time to tell the podcaster you do.

  • If they have a blog, comment.
  • If they are listed in iTunes, rate them.
  • If they are on one of the directories, rate them.
  • If they have a forum, post.

Participation is one of the things that sets podcasting apart from traditional “broadcast” media and it’s an important part of being part of the podcast generation. While most podcasts resemble radio shows in that the host talks to you, almost all podcasts have some way for you to communicate back to the host and we really want to hear from you. Regardless of the topic, most podcsts are one side of a conversation, you are the other half. Make sure you hold up your end of the conversation.

Many podcasts these days have “listener call-in lines” They actively encourage you to call in and pe a part of the conversation. You don’t have to have any special equipment or even a “radio voice” to have your voice heard. If your favorite podcast has a listener call-in line, put it on your speed dial and when listening, pause the podcast and call in. Let the host know if you agree, disagree, or just have more information.

Podcasts I listen To

That’s my four points. Now, I’m going to share with you the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis. Not because I have some deep insight as to what you should be listening to but mainly as a small way of saying thank you to the people that produce these shows. Consider my listing them here as an endorsement, if they fall in your area of interest, I would highly recommend them to you. (These are in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference.)

So, there you have it, a primer on joining the podcast nation. As I told my friend, our dues are cheap and our benefits are plentiful. No more excuses, get out there and participate!

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=