podcast pioneering

Even though I’ve played around with creating streaming audio for the web for the past four years, I never explored the possibility of podcasting until this week.

Back in Saint Paul, Minnesota, I used to help an organization named Catholic Parents Online by converting audio from their half-hour local cable TV show into a format that would stream on the web. Streaming technology was all right, but required the user to sit in front of the computer to listen to the audio. I started by using Flash format, which was cool but time-consuming to create from scratch. I tried Windows Media format, which made preparation of the content easier, but was, well, to put it charitably… a Microsoft technology, with all of the quirky behaviors that accompany it.

But podcasting is much more like subscription radio. You receive the content with “podcatching” software. I recommend using iTunes  (which is a free download from Apple’s website). Basically, you open iTunes and tell it where to go on the web to find the content you’re interested in. You simply type in a URL (website address) to “subscribe” to the content, so that any time new audio is available from that website, iTunes will let you know and give you the option of downloading it.

Once a podcast has been downloaded to your computer, it can be either played on your computer or saved onto a portable music player (MP3 player – an iPod or other similar device) so that you can listen to it wherever, whenever. (By the way, this is not an Apple technology – meaning you don’t have to use iTunes and an iPod. There are other free programs that let you subscribe to podcasts.)

My new podcast, DoxaPod Audio, is now listed in the Catholic Podcast Directory, and I’m going to see if I can get it recognized by the iTunes site.

For you techie types, the whole podcast craze is driven by RSS technology, which is basically a way of marking up web content so that it can be located by programs like iTunes and iPodder.

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