What is a podcast? Where to find them and how to listen for FREE

I’ve been making a podcast for two years, and have been harbouring a funny feeling that not everyone knows what a podcast is, how to find them and how to listen. So I made a video to help.

Scroll down for the video transcript, and subscribe to my channel for more!

THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

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+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

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Have a lovely day xo

What is a podcast? Where to find them and how to listen for FREE

Podcast. Podcast. Pod-cast. Podcast. I can’t even say it.

You say podcarst, I say podcast. Except normally I don’t, I probably say “podcass”, because I drop my t’s a lot. A lo’. A lo’!

Anyway – I’m making this video to explain what podcasts are and – I can’t say it anymore! – and how you can enjoy them. Specifically, if I’m being honest, how you can enjoy *my* podcast.

OK, what is a podcast?

Apart from being a word that sounds utterly meaningless when you say it too many times in a row – podcast! – very simply a podcast is an audio broadcast.

They’re generally free to listen to, some of them have ads and some don’t, some podcasters get paid and some don’t, they’re very easy to find and enjoy and I think you might really like them.

Fun fact: the “pod” bit comes from iPod. Remember those? A little piece of history…iPod. This does nothing. This is so old that this was never a touchscreen.

And then “cast” comes from broadcast. Podcast. I didn’t even know that before I made this video, so thank you as always for giving me the opportunity and the excuse to learn something new today.

So, a podcast was originally an audio broadcast you could listen to on your iPod via iTunes, but these days you can listen to them on your phone, various places around the internet, and even here on YouTube. Do they even make iPods any more? I wish they hadn’t put a phone in them.

iPod. iPod. OK, that word sounds meaningless now too.

Podcasts come in all shapes, sizes and genres. They can be independently produced – like my one is – or made by big companies, they can be long or short, sweary or not, and in a world stuffed with shiny images I think there’s something really lovely about focusing in just on audio. Some podcasts are monologues – just one person talking – some have multiple voices, there are interview podcasts, news podcasts, drama podcasts, sport podcasts. Podcasts!

There’s a whole world to explore, and it’s so creative – the great thing about a format where anyone couldcontribute is that ideally you get people from all sorts of backgrounds talking about super niche topics and being able to connect with like-minded people through doing so.

Podcasts are kind of like radio shows, if anyone could make their own radio show, and if the radio show could be as long or as short as you wanted, and you could publish it yourself.

So, how do you listen to these magical audio broadcasts?

Good question! Allow me to demonstrate, using my podcast as an example.

Considering you’re already here on YouTube, the very easiest way to listen is to visit my channel and go to the Attention Engineer playlist. My podcast is audio-only, so you can easily have it playing in the background, and if you subscribe to my channel it’s easier for you to find new episodes as they’re published.

I listen to podcasts when I’m running, washing up, tidying up or driving somewhere, so for me it works best to access my favourite shows through a podcast app on my phone.

I recommend Pocket Casts, which is free for Android and iPhone users. You can find a show and just press play to stream it right then and there, or you can download it on your home wifi to listen to when you’re out and about later on and save data. Always remember to subscribe to your favourite shows though, because then the new episodes will show up in the app for you.

Other podcasts apps are available, of course, and if you have a different favourite from mine, please write a comment and let me know why you like yours.

I always recommend Pocket Casts because it just works, and it’s available for iPhone and Android. Having it installed on my phone means I can browse all the other shows out there as well, or easily find one that’s been recommended to me by a friend.

If you want to listen at your desk, I think Apple Podcasts is brilliant. I’ve heard bad things about the iPhone app, but the desktop version works fine for me. So if I’m here in the studio and I want to listen to a podcast through my speakers, usually while tidying up, that’s how I listen.

You can also listen to many podcasts – mine included – on Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and even Audible, if you have a subscription.

One final way you can listen to my podcast is to visit my website penfriend.rocks and go to the podcast page. Every time I publish a new episode of Attention Engineer I make a deluxe show notes page, with embedded videos and links to the artist’s music, and there’s an audio player right there on the page that you can just click “play” on, or if you want to download the episode to listen to offline, or put on your phone, or burn to a CD, or whatever you want, that’s also possible – but if you’re new to this and are getting overwhelmed by the options then just keep it really simple. Pick whichever one is easiest for you.

Now before you go and practise your new skills, let me tell you a little bit about my show and why I chose to make a podcast in the first place.

“Attention Engineer: Artists on creativity, grit and determination” is made in an interview format, where I speak one on one with fellow musicians and artists about the creative process, mental health, touring life, the pros and cons of social media and whatever else comes up around those topics.

Making music as a solo artist is a very solitary thing, and I don’t have a big group of friends full stop, let alone a big group of friends who are musicians. So, I decided to create a framework of questions that would enable me to have the kinds of conversations I’d always hoped to have when I was supporting bands on tour, but never got to have because there’s always a lot of equipment to carry in and out of the building.

I had a hunch that the kinds of questions that I would ask as a musician would be quite different to those that would be asked by a journalist, and as someone who is always striving to make their work deeper, more meaningful, more impactful – podcasting just seemed like the right format for this project.

If podcasts didn’t exist, I just wouldn’t have had the right kind of excuse to contact people like Corin Tucker, Tanya Donelly, Bernard Butler, Lemn Sissay, Lou Barlow, Nova Twins, Matthew Caws, Miki Berenyi and all the others on my guestlist to have these deep conversations that have been so personally inspiring and enriching over the past 18 months but, more importantly, have inspired listeners.

I started working on the podcast in November 2019 and launched it in June 2020 so, honestly, it’s been a real lifeline during a very disconnected time.

If you have any questions about my podcast or podcasting in general, please leave a comment below, because I’m making a one-off video episode of Attention Engineer to finish off the year, and I would love your help with shaping that.

Happy podcast adventuring, and I’ll see you soon.

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  1. Melz says:

    A brilliant way to share ideas that might not otherwise have the opportunity to shine. Do you need expensive microphones & software or can anybody with any budget start a podcast? I’d love to give it a go!

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