It’s an audiobook! It’s a radio show! No, it’s a podcast!
Podcasts have taken the world by storm over the past decade. Whether you’re a seasoned podcast consumer or first-time listener, navigating the podcasting landscape can be overwhelming. Here is what you need to know.
Its beauty comes from its simplicity – the spoken word recorded and uploaded to the internet. It can be as basic as one person reading the top news stories of the day or as sophisticated as a highly-produced, multi-layered story that takes a full-time crew and multiple episodes to narrate. Its low cost to entry and wide reach attracts podcasters small and large to create a vast library of content available in every genre you can imagine.
Unlike over-the-air radio, podcasts are not regulated by the FCC, so anything goes. If foul language and mature subjects are not your thing, carefully read descriptions and reviews so you understand the nature of the content. Many podcasts will also put a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode if it contains mature themes.
Podcasts are also easy to find and use. Simply search podcasts and follow the instructions to use them. The more popular apps for listening to podcasts include Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google.
- For the family. There are thousands to choose from. The podcasts in this group are a great way to keep kids engaged while on a road trip or as an outlet that is not the TV. Several of the most popular, per Common Sense Media, are: But Why: A podcast for curious kids. Ear Snacks: A funny podcast for preschoolers and little kids. This American Life: The most downloaded podcast in America by NPR that tends to be popular with all ages, but especially teens.
- News. This category is the most listened to podcast category per Apple. According to Feedspot.com, here are some of this category's most popular podcasts: The Daily: Top news from New York Times' journalists, 20 minutes a day. WSJ What's News: Wall Street Journal reporters cover top stories on business, the economy, markets, and politics. BBC Global News Podcast: Top news from across the world from the BBC World Service.
- True Crime. According to vulture.com, true crime is the genre that elevated podcasts into the stratosphere. Here are some of the popular choices according to the website: Serial: A spinoff from This American Life, the Serial podcast pioneered investigative storytelling by going deeper into true crime narratives. Bear Brook: Details a decades-long investigation about four unidentified bodies discovered in New Hampshire and an unknown serial killer. Undisclosed: Tells stories about innocent people caught up in a corrupt judicial system.
- Information. Some of the best podcasts are those that don't fit into a specific category. According to Feedspot.com, the following podcasts do a great job of storytelling across a wide array of subjects: Stuff You Should Know: Tackles one topic per podcast. Subjects can vary from war history to Tupperware to how the Electoral College system works. Freakonomics: Explores the hidden side of everything, usually from a monetary perspective. TED Talks Daily: Brings you the latest TED talks in audio format.