How to Listen to a Podcast
A podcast is essentially an internet radio program that you can listen to whenever you want. Each podcast is like a television show, but rather than watching the same channel at the right day and time each week, you can use a podcast app on your smart phone to have new episodes delivered straight to you. That's called "subscribing" to a show.
Podcasts are audio files, so they take up space on your device and downloading them counts against your monthly cell phone data limit. Just keep that in mind as you explore dozens of new shows. Many modern podcast apps have a setting that disables the downloading of episodes if you are not on a wifi network, and most also auto-delete the file from your phone after you've listened to it.
But don't let that frighten you off. Podcasts are a source of entertainment, education, and exploration that is highly portable, and fits into the small gaps in your days. Discover, download, and enjoy!
Finding a Podcast
There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts available, and almost all of them are completely free to enjoy. You can find amazing podcasts in a wide assortment of genres by browsing the Podcasts section of your iTunes app, or in the Google Play Music app. Each directory also features an assortment of charts, listing the top shows in each category, as well as occasionally promoting new or popular shows.
Subscribing to a Podcast
To subscribe to a specific podcast, simply search for the show title in your podcast app of choice, and then click/tap the "Subscribe" button. Now your app will download new episodes each time they are released.
Recommended Smart Phone Apps
If you use your phone to listen to music, you can also listen to podcasts with it. There are dozens of podcast apps in the various app stores, but here are the few that I recommend. Some of these options are paid apps, but they are worth the price, trust me.
How to Support a Podcast
As I said above, most podcasts are free, but they certainly aren't free to make. For example, Lore is a 30-minute podcast that takes 30 hours to research, write, and produce. Many podcasts raise money from listener donations, and some even have advertisements. In each case, that money off-sets the time and costs associated with making the show you get to enjoy for free.
If you find yourself wishing you could help support your favorite podcast, you have a couple of options. First, visit the show's website and look for a "Support" button or page. They'll guide you to places where you can send money in support of the show.
Second, if the podcast has advertisements, listen to them. Check out the sponsor websites, and if they offer free trials or coupon codes, give them a try. The money doesn't go to the podcast, but it helps the sponsors feel that their investment in the show is worth repeating.
Share the Love
Finally, once you've settled in and are enjoying a few of your favorite new podcasts, spread the word. Tell your friends about the shows you enjoy. Explain to them how podcasts work (or send them a link to this webpage). You (yes, you!) can help podcasts grow.