Start Listening to Podcasts
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll have at least heard someone talking about podcasts. But what are they? And how can you start listening to them if you’ve not already? Below, we’ll try to answer some of your questions regarding podcasts so you can become an expert in no time.
What Are Podcasts?
The easiest way to think about a podcast is somewhere between an audiobook and a radio show. While you may come across some video podcasts, most are audio-only and are favorited by people who want something to listen to while doing something else – for example, during their morning commute, while they do household chores, or even before falling asleep. They’re a great hands-free option to keep you amused during otherwise dull portions of your day.
What Are Podcasts About?
Part of the appeal of a great podcast is the variation in content. Many podcasts take an interview-style approach, with the key presenter chatting to guests about relevant topics, while some might just be a group of friends sitting around a condenser microphone. Other podcasts might be more formal, with one or two experts sharing their knowledge and expertise covering a massive range of topics, there’s pretty much a podcast out there for everyone! If you’re into sports, you might be interested in checking out a podcast featuring your favorite sports personalities discussing a recent match or general tips to improve your own game. There are podcasts debating the latest news both in seriousness and in satire, experts discussing the environment, technology, and almost anything else you can think of. There are also some great comedy podcasts, horror and ghost stories, and even podcasts designed to help you fall asleep.
See? There really is something for everyone in the world of podcasts!
How Do I Listen To A Podcast?
If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, then your best bet is to get started using the apps already installed on your smartphone. If you’re an Android user, you can get started right away with the Google Play Music app, while iPhone users can use Apple Podcasts. While neither of these offerings are anything particularly special, they’re an excellent option for listening to your first podcast. After a few uses, you’ll get a good idea of the features you wish the apps had, giving you a great starting point for moving onto a more sophisticated podcast app.
While these apps are pre-downloaded, there are all sorts of free podcast apps you can choose from, along with some paid-for options – but don’t worry, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to podcast listening! Even Spotify has plenty of podcasts for you to enjoy with or without a Spotify subscription!
Which Apps Are Worth Using?
There’s really no set rules on what makes a great podcast app, as it all depends on the features you rate most and the sorts of podcasts you enjoy.
One of the most popular podcast apps is Pocket Casts. This is a paid app and costs $3.99 to download, but there are no continuing subscription fees, so you only need to pay this once! The app is available on iOS and Android too, so there’s no competition needed regardless of which camp you’re in.
For free apps that work for both iOS and Android devices, you might also want to check out RadioPublic, Castbox, and Podbean, although there are plenty more awesome apps out there.
Our advice is to get started with your defaults or even Spotify and do an internet search for an app that offers the features you’ve realized you want. Just like podcasts are all unique, podcast listeners will have hugely varied priorities, and the only way to really find the right app for you is to try out a few different ones to find the best for your needs.
Do I Need Anything Else To Get Started Listening To Podcasts?
While in theory, all you need is a device capable of streaming or downloading audio to start listening to podcasts. We do recommend that if you’re going to get into podcast listening that you invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, particularly if you’re going to be listening during commutes or in public spaces.
Alternatively, if you’re listening mostly at home, then you might want a good speaker. Bluetooth speakers can range from incredibly inexpensive to awesome high-powered devices that will fully immerse you in the podcast you find yourself listening to. We particularly rate a quality sound system if you’re listening to a horror or crime podcast as the extra sound quality will really help immerse you in the story.
Podcasts Aren’t Just For Phones!
Although most podcast listeners will probably be using their smartphones to listen to their favorite shows, podcasts are no longer restricted to your mobile device. Home systems such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home will also enable you to connect and listen to your podcasts with a little setting up. Many podcasts are available on your desktop or laptop, and you can even connect via your Smart TV, which is particularly useful if you’ve found a great video podcast to enjoy.
How Do I Find A Good Podcast?
So, you’ve got your app downloaded and your headphones or speakers ready to go, what next? Well, the next step is to find yourself something to listen to, of course!
With so many podcasts out there, finding something worth your time and attention can seem overwhelming when you first start listening – but don’t panic, there are some ways to cut through the noise and help you narrow down the options.
Start by thinking about the sort of thing you’re interested in. Do you love horror? Are you interested in finding out more about our planet? Need something relaxing to help you sleep? Are you interested in learning more about meditation or your favorite sports team? There are podcasts covering pretty much every topic imaginable, so no matter what you’re interested in, you’re sure to find a podcast that feels like it’s been written just for you.
Word Of Mouth
One of the best ways to discover a new podcast is by word of mouth. Remember that friend we mentioned earlier, the one who kept going on about podcasts until you felt the need to discover this article? Well, they’re going to be a goldmine of information and more than happy to share their recommendations of what they think are the best podcasts out there. Listen to their ravings, and when they mention something you think sounds interesting, make a note of it to look up later.
Another great way of finding podcasts is in your podcast app itself. Basically, all apps will offer recommendations based on your search and listening history to help you find other podcasts you might enjoy. Favouriting or subscribing to podcasts you enjoy is an excellent way of telling the app you like a particular style. That way, the next time you log in, you’ll find a whole selection of other options to have a listen to that follow a similar pattern or discuss the same topic.
There are also all sorts of subgroups on social media dedicated to sharing popular and obscure podcasts alike that you might want to join up to. Reddit’s Podcast Subreddit is a hive of information and designed to help people “discover, discuss, rank, review, etc.” great podcasts, while the Facebook group Podcasts We Listen To describes itself as “a group for listeners by listeners.” There’s also a Facebook group called The New York Times’s Podcast Club, which styles itself as “a book club for podcasts” and is worth checking out.
Naturally, Google is also a hive of information when it comes to finding podcasts, and a simple search for a genre or presenter should come up with plenty of recommendations to get you started.
How Do I Search?
Once you’ve got your recommendations, the next step is to actually find them. This is obviously incredibly easy if you have the name for the podcast, but there are also some tricks to help you find something specific, even if you don’t know the podcast name or even if it exists.
Most podcast apps will let you filter your results by categories, or you can search the name of an individual to see whether they have any podcasts you might be interested in. For example, if you search “David Tennant” in Spotify, you’ll quickly find his podcast, “David Tennant does a podcast.” It’s as simple as that!
It’s just as easy to find podcasts from particular places, perhaps your hometown or a place you’d like to visit. Simply search “podcast” along with the place name, and you’re sure to find plenty of podcasts either being recorded in the area or discussing it. For example, we searched “New York Podcast” and discovered The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast.
Don’t Worry About Being Disloyal
Although podcasts are a bit like TV shows on your favorite streaming services – i.e., all available to binge if desired – that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to listen to or enjoy every episode. Many podcasts are fine as a stand-alone episode, or you might find you loved episodes 2-3 but don’t like the rest. It’s fine to be fussy! There are so many options for podcast listeners that you don’t need to feel guilty if you change your mind on a podcast. There’s no need to even start from episode 1 if it’s episode 23 that really caught your attention (with the exclusion of chapter-based stories, as they’re usually best listened to in order).
Listening to the wrong podcast is not only a waste of time, but it’s also going to mess with your algorithms, as with every episode you listen to, you’re telling the app that this is something you enjoy. Don’t waste your time sifting through rubbish because you feel committed if the podcast isn’t for you then just stop and try something else. It won’t take long for you to discover something extraordinary and engaging that you’re excited to listen to every day.
Similarly, there’s no need to stick with a specific genre. Many people find their listening preferences change over time or even in a change of personal circumstances. For example, Mr. Avirgan of the podcast 30 for 30 stated that when his commute time doubled his podcast choices completely changed. Take his advice, podcast listening “should not feel like work.” As long as you’re enjoying what you’re listening to, nothing is wrong.
Podcasts To Get You Started
Although there’s not necessarily any rhyme or reason for someone’s preferred podcasts, there are a few really successful offerings that are recommended for a reason and can be a great starting point for anyone who wants to start listening to podcasts. But don’t just take our word for it! Checking out things like the Apple Podcasts Top Charts, iTunes Charts, and other chart rankers will also help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the best and most relevant podcasts.
For Now, Here Are A Few Of Our Current Favorites:
- This American Life – One of the biggest and most commonly recommended podcasts out there, This American Life comes highly recommended for a reason and features theme-based stories listeners will never tire of!
- On The Media – This is an excellent podcast for anyone who wants to make sense of the age of information overload we currently live in. The episodes encourage listeners to question the narratives portrayed in the media and is a really interesting and thought-provoking listen.
- NPR’s All Songs – Featuring presenters who are genuinely knowledgeable about music, this podcast is excellent for discovering new music in a vast range of genres with no man (or woman) left behind.
- Everything is Alive – This sweet podcast involves interviews with inanimate objects. Falling somewhere between fiction and philosophy, the only way to really understand this podcast is to listen to it.
- Sleep With Me – Started with the aim of helping listeners fall asleep, this is a great podcast for anyone with insomnia and is designed as a stream-of-consciousness that’s just the right balance of riveting and relaxing to help you drift off.