BY KATIE ROBINSON
Most Mary Washington students would say, “Yes! We listen to our radios all the time, that’s how we are!”
However, despite our frequent radio usage in cars, at work and in dorm rooms, radio stations are looking to adapt to new technologies and digital innovations. One new form of audio entertainment and information is the podcast.
Podcasts are created on countless topics of interest, come with on-demand availability and are free of charge. Podcasts are made up of collections of media files that can be streamed free of charge to any media playing gadget.
For those who haven’t looked under the “podcast” section in the iTunes store, there is always a topic for any interest from art and comedy, to music and politics. One of the great things about podcasts is there is something for everyone.
I have used podcasts to catch up on current events, study for philosophy exams and learn foreign languages. Podcasts are published through web syndication by individuals or organizations and are fed through hosting software applications like iTunes.
These applications known as “Podcatchers,” are made to automatically retrieve new files as soon as they are available. Like a television episode, podcasts are made in series and can be automatically downloaded to your computer, iPod, iPhone or any other media playing device.
Traditional radio shows were once the only form of broadcasted entertainment. Now, radio stations are broadening their scope of influence to keep up with the speed of technology. Large radio and news organizations like NPR, CNN, The Economist, ESPN and HBO are using podcasts to reach larger audiences and become more easily available.
Some students here have already navigated through the wonderful world of podcasts.
Senior Delaney Twining said that he listens to NPR podcasts like, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” and Chicago Public Radio’s “This American Life.” When asked why he listens to podcasts he simply said, “I enjoy them, they’re good for long spans of time like road trips, or when I work in the scene shop. It’s nice to have something that isn’t just the radio but current events. I enjoy it more than listening to the same song over and over again on the radio.”
One of Twining’s favorite podcasts is a video podcast from www.penny-arcade.com, featuring a webcast comic. This podcast demonstrates the making of a comic strip that centers on nerd counter-culture in a skit-like and very entertaining way.
All in all, podcasts offer a great way to access information and entertainment about any topic of special interest. If you’ve never heard of podcasts or haven’t tried them out, check out some of the top five listed by iTunes. Happy listening!