Podcasts: What They Are And How You Can Listen To Them

An introduction to podcasts as a medium and some of the most popular podcasts out there

An Introduction to Podcasts

You’ve probably heard about them before but might not exactly be sure what they are or what purpose they serve. Below we’ll explain what podcasts are and how you can listen to them depending on your device and mobile operating system.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is essentially an audio file which you can stream or download and listen to on-demand. They are often episodic in nature and part of a series that can be thematic, topic-dependent, host-led, conversational, and so on.

Think of them as radio shows or pieces of audio content that can be listened to at any time and manipulated in ways regular radio can’t. In other words, you can pause them, fast forward, rewind, choose which episodes to listen to, and when to listen to any particular podcast.

How do I stay up to date with a podcast series?

You can subscribe to a podcast show or series which will then automatically update the feed for that particular show. The feed will update every time a new episode has been uploaded and added to that show’s collection of podcasts.

How much does it cost to listen to a podcast or subscribe to a podcast series?

In the vast majority of cases, subscribing and listening to a podcast is absolutely free. In such cases, the podcast is supported financially by advertising revenue and other related promotions, just like any other ad-based online publication.

What are some of the genres found in podcasts?

Just like any medium podcast has several sub-categories and genres. This is beneficial to both podcasters as well as listeners, allowing for differentiation and varied approaches to podcasting. Moreover, it enables people to find exactly what they prefer to listen to on a regular basis.

Podcast genres include the following:

  • Audioblogs
  • Comedy Podcasts
  • Couple Casts
  • Educational Podcasts
  • Gaming Podcasts
  • Godcasts: Religious and Spiritual Podcasts
  • Interview Podcasts
  • Music
  • News
  • Politics
  • Radio Dramas
  • Sci-Fi Podcasts
  • Sports Podcasts
  • Technology Podcasts

How can I listen to a podcast on my iPhone?

If you have an iPhone, you can use Apple’s Podcasts application.

From there you can search through thousands of shows, subscribe to any show, and download or stream any individual episode.

You can listen to an episode by tapping on the episode title.

If you want to try alternative podcasts applications on iOS, you can try one of the following:

How can I listen to a podcast on my Android device?

Google launched their own official Podcast application in 2018. It’s called Google Podcasts and you can download it for free from Google Play.

Once you’ve downloaded the application, you can search podcasts by genre or podcast name, subscribe to a series and play any individual episode.

Beyond Google Podcasts, there are several alternative podcast applications on Android that you can download.

These include:

What are some of the most popular podcasts out there?

Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular, with some shows having millions of downloads on a monthly basis.

Some of the most popular podcasts out there include the following:

  • Serial – Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes.


  • This American Life – This American Life is an American weekly hour-long radio program produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media and hosted by Ira Glass. It is broadcast on numerous public radio stations in the United States and internationally, and is also available as a free weekly podcast.


  • Radiolab –  Radiolab is a radio program produced by WNYC, a public radio station in New York City, and broadcast on public radio stations in the United States. The show is nationally syndicated and is available as a podcast.


  • WTF with Marc Maron – WTF with Marc Maron is a weekly podcast and radio show hosted by stand-up comedian Marc Maron. The show was launched in September 2009. The show is produced by Maron’s former Air America co-worker Brendan McDonald. In early 2011, the show began receiving positive press, including articles in The New York Times.


  • The Tim Ferris Show – Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages.


  • The Joe Rogan Experience – The Joe Rogan Experience is a free audio and video podcast hosted by American comedian, actor, sports commentator, martial artist and television host Joe Rogan. It was launched on December 24, 2009 by Rogan and comedian Brian Redban, who also produced and co-hosted.

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