I don’t know about you, but in the miserable months of winter, I don’t tend to have the energy to do useful or creative things in the evenings. I find myself doing a lot of reading or watching TV, but sometimes it’s nice to give my eyes a rest and just listen.
So something I’ve really been appreciating lately is the boom in ‘podcasting’.
Podcasts are a bit like talk radio shows that you can listen to whenever you like. They’re usually completely free (although you might have to put up with some adverts), and there are so many nowadays that I’m sure you could find one about any topic you can think of! There’s a lot of sports analysis and interviews out there – recently, I’ve been listening to some fantastic interviews with former F1 drivers and technicians. Crime series are pretty popular (either drama or ‘True Crime’), or there are some great ones about history, politics, science and philosophy if that’s more your thing. Other podcasts just involve a host interviewing various different people – and they can be really entertaining if they’re done well.
If you fancy giving them a try, I’ve got a few tips to help you get started…
The best way to find and listen to podcasts is through your smartphone or tablet, and to do that you’ll need an app. If you’ve got an iPad or iPhone, you can use the Podcast option on the iTunes app to browse or search for topics of interest, or to see what’s popular at the moment. On Android devices you’ll have to get a free podcast app from the Play Store, such as “Google Podcasts”, “DoublePod” or “Podcast Addict”. Or, if you have a Spotify account, you can search for podcasts through the Spotify app – they have quite a few exclusive ones now.
My first port of call though is always the BBC Sounds app. All the podcasts on there are produced by the BBC and so they’re really high quality (which is not always a guarantee!). You can listen to the back catalogue of your favourite radio shows, as well as exclusive recordings. I’m a big fan of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry – a science show from Radio 4.
Usually, podcast episodes form part of a series. You can listen to individual episodes by streaming them (listening over an internet connection) or by downloading them to your device to listen offline (you can delete them afterwards). If you ‘subscribe’ to a particular series, you’ll get notified every time there’s a new episode ready, and it’s easier to find all the old episodes too.
Watch out if you’re listening out and about, though – unless you download them at home first, streaming podcast episodes can use up your mobile data. (And they can also be pretty distracting if you’re trying to concentrate on your supermarket shop, or cross a busy road!)
If you’d rather listen through your PC or laptop at home, you’re best off streaming them directly from a website, such as the BBC Sounds website.
If there’s a particular show you want to listen to, search for its title in a search engine such as Google, along with the word ‘podcast’, and you might find that the podcast has its own website – like ‘Serial’, a popular American true crime podcast. A word of warning here though – podcasts don’t always come with an age rating or content guidance, and so you might want to avoid listening with children in the room unless you’re sure that it’s going to be free from bad language or other adult themes – true crime ones in particular are fairly grisly!
I hope that’s enough to get you started. As I say, there is something for everyone in the world of podcasts, so enjoy exploring what’s out there.