What is a Podcast?

Podcasts are radio style shows that are automatically downloaded to your PC. Once downloaded, you can listen to them on your PC or copy them to your MP3 player.

How Do I Get Them?

Most shows give you the option of manually downloading or listening to episodes from their web page, but the real power of podcasts is the subscription model. The first step is to install a podcast client, also known as an aggregator (a.k.a. podcatcher). Ipodder is the most common one. Although it has it's shortcomings (including a somewhat clunky interface) its a good place to start.

You can find other aggregators here.

The subscription model makes Podcasting unique. Once you add a podcast to your list, your podcatcher will download new episodes of every show whenever they're available.

For example, here's how to subscribe to Quick Hitts. Load your podcatcher. You can drag this icon:

...from this page into your podcatcher and you'll be subscribed. Or you can copy this string of text (known as the feed)


...and paste it into your software. In Ipoder you do this by pressing CTRL/N and pasting the text into the pop up window.

Now tell your podcatcher to download, and the latest episode will be saved to your hard drive. (You can also get past episodes easily.) Listen, and you'll be Smartinized®.

There are several other ways to get podcasts: iTunes, Odeo, Podnova and Yahoo, to name a few. Some shows give you one click buttons to subscribe via any of these services. I intend to put the buttons on this site sometime, but I haven't got around to it and it's not high priority.

When Are New Shows Available?

That's entirely up to the podcaster. Some shows are produced daily, some weekly, some a couple of times a week. Some follow a strict schedule, others are released randomly.

Quick Hitts is published twice a month, around the 1st and 15th. When you subscribe, there's no need to check for new episodes. Every once in a while a new one will show up automatically, a pleasant little surprise to break up your otherwise drab and wretched life.

What is The Format/Content of a Typical Podcast?

There is no typical podcast. Content, quality and length vary dramatically from show to show.

The complete lack of regulation and standards in podcasting is a powerful, beautiful thing. Anyone can do, say, or play anything they like. Although some podcast search engines offer a content rating system, most podcasters ignore it. It's a good idea to listen to an episode or two of a show before playing it too loud at work, in front of your kids, or around the easily offended.

For the record, Quick Hitts is designed for grownups, so contains occasional swear words. Occasionally I'll do shows that are more explicit and likely to offend. I usually introduce them with a "not safe for work" notice.

The hunt for quality podcasts is both fun and frustrating. There are tens of thousands of them out there, and they range in quality from extremely professional and entertaining to sloppy and stupid. Not surprisingly, the sloppy/stupid ones outnumber the good ones by about ten to one. But that means there are thousands of good ones. Once you find one you like, subscribe, sit back and new episodes will be automatically sent to your PC.

Where Do I Find Podcasts?

We've listed some of our favorite podcasts here.

There are quite a few podcast directories to help you find the good stuff. Most of them feature a voting and/or rating system, and we encourage you to vote for Quick Hitts at each one. Votes are reset from time to time, so be sure to vote often.

Podcast Pickle is the best, most feature packed directory available. There are plenty of others (over 125 at last count), some catering to specific tastes, others attempting to provide a comprehensive list of all the podcasts in the world. Explore! Hunting down new shows is part of the fun.

You can find listings to other directories here and here.


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