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What Is A Podcast? Definition, Common Terms and What To Understand

Podcasts are undeniably one of the most popular forms of entertainment today.

Understanding how a successful podcast works can help you enjoy them better and even make your own podcast.

Several different types of podcasts are available on a seemingly endless variety of topics.

So whether you love digging into a good serial podcast, some juicy true crime, or simply catching up on the news, there’s a podcast out there that you are bound to love and enjoy.

What Is A Podcast, And How Do They Work?

At their heart, podcasts are essentially pre-recorded programs that deal with a specific issue or topic.

Any podcast listener can break them into different categories, and they come in all different types of formats.

For example, you can find podcasts that go on for several hours or ones that are five minutes or less.

Basically, podcasts give listeners very detailed information on a specific subject.

Some have commercial breaks, either when the host or hosts are talking about products or services or actual commercials.  

What Do the Words “podcast” and “episode” Mean?

Episodes are various installments of podcasts.

Most, if not all, podcasts are broken out into different episodes.

Usually, you can find out what these episodes entail by simply looking at the description in the podcast notes.

This is very helpful for people who either want to sample a new podcast or listen to an episode on a particular topic.

Sometimes podcasts can have multiple episodes on the same topic, and it’s advisable to start from the beginning and work your way through to the last episode.

Beginning in the middle or the end can get confusing, especially when dealing with a topic like true crime.

Definition of Podcast Terminologies

If you’re relatively new to podcasts and podcasting, the terminology can be confusing.

This handy guide will allow you to understand what you’re looking at and how to make the most out of your listening or recording experience.

What is a Podcast Network?

Just like radio, podcasts operate on different networks.

These networks act as a repository for various podcasts and showcase those distributed or produced within the same family.

For example, Wondery is a popular podcast network that regularly releases long serials about crime or persons of interest.

What is a Podcast RSS Feed?

The podcast’s RSS feed refers to written information that you can find about the podcast and podcast episodes.

In addition, you’ll find information about each individual episode and the podcast itself.

You can also subscribe to podcasts and set up your RSS feed so that you’re alerted when another podcast drops.

What is a Podcast Host?

The podcast host is the person whose voice you hear when you tune into the podcast.

Even if the podcast is an interview format, it will still have a host to direct the conversation and ask questions.

Some podcasts have singular hosts, and others have multiple people who share the responsibility of hosting the show.

What is a Podcast Download?

Downloading podcasts on your phone allows you to listen to them offline on your podcasts app.

You can set up your phone to automatically download the podcasts you like or manually do it.

You can also listen to non-downloaded podcasts over WiFi or data.

The number of podcast downloads also impacts the quality and popularity of the show.

Advertisers regularly look at these numbers to see where they should be putting their advertising dollars.

As such, you’ll often hear your favorite podcast hosts ask you to subscribe and download their content.

What is a Podcast Producer?

Podcast producers help the host’s voice get to your ears and cut back on any technical problems that might arise during the show’s recording.

They have a ton of different duties that vary depending on the format of the show and the budget, but generally, they book guests, write scripts, cut out dead time, and keep an eye on those ever-important downloads.

What is a Podcast Script?

Hosts and producers use podcast scripts to make sure that they cover all of the pertinent material in the podcast.

The goal is to deliver information in an exciting and exciting way and cut back on rambling or any other distractions.

These scripts are absolutely vital for podcast hosts to reach that end.

If the script is bad, or the host seems like they are all over the place, listeners will pick up on it and unsubscribe.

The best podcasts have a rigorous format and a consistent script so that people know what they’re getting into when they tune in.

What is a Live Podcast?

Although most podcasts are pre-recorded, there are live podcasts that mimic the format of radio.

Unfortunately, this format is pretty tricky to get right, so only seasoned podcasters will attempt it because it’s very easy to start rambling or get thrown off mid-episode.

What is a Podcast App?

Podcast apps are repositories of all of your favorite podcasts.

Generally, you can sort through podcasts by category to find ones that you’re more likely to love.

Most smartphones have some version of a podcast app like Apple podcast or Google podcast.

Newer models might even have it pre-installed.

What is a Podcast Interview?

A podcast interview happens when the host interviews a guest on their show.

Some podcasts have multiple guests, some even at the same time.

It’s an excellent way to break up the monotony of the podcast and provide fresh views.

Some podcasts do interviews occasionally, whereas others rely on this format to drive the show.

News podcasts generally have discussions with people who have unique insight into the topics that they’re covering.

You can usually find lists of interviewees on podcast notes.

What is a Podcast Mixer?

Although listeners won’t necessarily need to know what podcast mixers are, it’s an important term to understand if you want to record and produce your own podcast.

Essentially, these mixers let you weave in certain sounds or trademark songs.

Unfortunately, using a podcast mixer is a double-edged sword.

They can undoubtedly add texture and interest to the show, but they can be too much if you use them liberally.

What is a Podcast Website?

Podcast websites are akin to other types of websites in that they have domains, hosting, and sometimes feedback options for customers.

If it’s a question and answer podcast, like a dating advice one, you can even have a place for listeners to submit questions.

Podcast websites don’t have to be fancy, but they should exist to give the podcast a sense of legitimacy and allow listeners to access all of your information in one spot.

What Is the Purpose of a Podcast?

Podcasts exist to give listeners access to a discussion or information about a particular topic or topics.

They are like talk radio in that they cover specific things, but they also can delve deeper or go into more specialized topics because they don’t have to attract a more extensive base.

As a result, you can find podcasts on almost any niche topic, and you don’t have to wade through a lot of unnecessary information to get to what you’re looking for.

This ability to specialize is really what sets a good podcaster apart.

You can also download them and listen at your leisure or rewind them to pick up on things that you might have missed.

Also, since anyone can make a podcast on just about anything, they are a very even playing field in the marketplace of ideas.

Who is Listening to Podcasts?

Plenty of people listen to podcasts.

According to Riverside FM, nearly 50 percent of podcast listeners are under the age of 34, although they are still very popular with older people.

People between 35 and 54 makeup another 22 percent of the market.

Of course, these demographics will vary depending on what type of podcast you’re making.

How Do I Find and Listen to Podcasts?

It’s exceptionally easy to find and listen to podcasts that appeal to you.

You first need a good podcast app, which you can download for free on your smartphone.

Then, you can start searching by category within the app itself.

Download one or two episodes from podcasts that you think you might enjoy.

If you like them, you can always set up automatic downloads so that you never miss an episode.

Additionally, you can also ask like-minded people for recommendations on their favorite podcasts or episodes.

Types of Podcasts

There are tons of types of podcasts out there, but these most popular varieties will give you an idea of what to expect when you start downloading them.

In addition, if you’re thinking about creating your own podcast, this list can give you an excellent jumping-off point to match your skills and interests with a specific format.

1. The Interview Podcast

Most news shows employ the interview podcast type of format.

It’s a popular way to get a lot of information across relatively quickly and establish credibility on a kind of issue or issues.

What is an Interview Type of Podcast?

Interview podcasts have regular guests.

They can focus on having one specific guest on every episode or have multiple guests.

The guests can also debate each other in certain types of formats.

This last interview-style podcast lends itself very well to entertaining episodes where many different viewpoints are discussed.

2. The Multi-Host Podcast

 Multi-host podcasts have more than one host.

Sometimes they will interact with each other at the beginning of the episode or take on different parts of the episode.

What is a Multi-Host Type of Podcast?

Multi-host podcasts tend to be more conversational, which makes this podcast format great for comedy podcasts or certain types of shows like true crime.

In addition, these podcasts are engaging, interesting, and may or may not have special guests.

3. Storytelling / Investigative Podcasts

If you want to dig deep, storytelling and investigative podcasts are right up your alley.

These podcasts often tackle significant, meaty topics and involve lots of research.

What is a Storytelling/Investigative Podcast?

Investigative and storytelling podcasts take deep dives either into familiar or unfamiliar stories and get the listeners engaged and involved.

They tend to be highly research-heavy and usually go on for several different episodes.

It’s common for investigative podcasts to focus solely on one story of an event, as is the case for Dirty John.

4. Roundtable Podcasts

Unlike many other podcasts, roundtable podcasts don’t have one consistent host.

Instead, you’ll get different hosts depending on the topic.

What is a Roundtable Podcast?

As with interview podcasts, roundtable podcasts are usually news-related and deal with important topics of the day.

Generally, these podcasts will involve either rotating hosts or a specific panel of hosts that will tackle complex topics.

5. Repurposed Content Podcasts

As the name suggests, repurposed content podcasts deal with content that’s already been out there, putting a fresh spin on it for the audience.

What is a Repurposed Content Podcast?

Repurposed content podcasts are generally a marketing strategy to get popular content to different channels.

It can mean that a popular episode is rebroadcast under a different format, or it can refer to taking a podcast intended for one channel and publishing it on another.

6. Theatrical Podcasts

Theatrical podcasts are a lot like storytelling podcasts in that they weave a tale for their readers, but these podcasts are primarily fictional.

Although you can have several different actors in them, it’s not common to have one host.

What is a Theatrical Podcast?

Theatrical podcasts are performances by actors formatted for podcast form.

Listening to them is almost like losing yourself in a play or a really good audiobook.

7. Hybrid Podcasts

Hybrid podcasts are a fusion of different formats, giving listeners a new experience almost every time.

Although they come across as being very fresh, hybrid podcasts still rely on a script.  

What is a Hybrid Podcast?

These types of podcasts can involve several different speakers, a host, a roundtable discussion, or virtually any other type of format.

They tend to be either news or culture-related and are usually on the longer side.

8. Monologue/Solo Podcasts

One of the trickiest types of podcasts to pull off, monologue or solo podcasts, involve one person speaking.

There are rarely any interviews.

This is a format embraced by people in the self-help industry and different political pundits who want to give their take on the news of the day.

What is a Monologue/Solo Podcast?

Suppose you are an expert in a field, a revered political pundit, or have a particular take on something that nobody else has.

In that case, you could find yourself with a very successful monologue or solo podcast.

In order to be successful, you have to have name recognition and also provide supplementary content like blog posts.

9. Conversational Podcasts

Conversational podcasts and multi-host podcasts often overlap.

When you tune in, you’re listening to two or more people give their takes on something essential or niche.

It’s an excellent way to keep your podcast engaging and break things up.  

What is a Conversational Podcast?

Conversational podcasts are a lot like the morning radio shows we all grew up with.

Two hosts talk about a particular topic, engage with their audience, and occasionally take calls or bring in special guests.

You will find one or more of these podcasts varieties on virtually any streaming app or service.

What are the Things You’ll Need Before Recording Your Podcast?

Now that you understand how podcasts work, you might be tempted to try to put together a podcast of your own.

The good news is that almost anyone can get started on a podcast.

All you need is a topic, time, commitment, and a few simple technical requirements.

The first thing that you have to do is think about what topic or topics you want to cover.

It’s a good idea to do your research and find other podcasts in the same vein.

If you find several of them, try to think about what makes your podcast unique.

For example, if you’re covering an older story, how can you rebrand or spin it?

Next, you’ll want to choose a name.

Don’t pick something too obscure.

Make sure that it fits in well with the topic that you’re covering.

On the other hand, it always pays to be original.

If you can come up with a clever portmanteau or pun, it will stick in people’s minds.

You’ll also want to have some kind of visual representation for your podcast.

Podcast apps have small thumbnails that show a picture, as well as the name of the podcast.

As with the name, make sure that your art is clever but not too obscure.

It also pays to be reasonably PG-ratedwith your art.

Think about the sound effects that you’ll want to have.

For example, will you have a cold introduction or an intro song?

If you decide to go with a song, make sure that you have the right to it.

You can also pay someone to create a song for you.

You’ll need a microphone, a hosting platform, and a decent computer to make your episodes.

You will also want to record in a relatively quiet space.

One of the critical things to keep in mind when you first start podcasting is that consistency matters.

Make sure that you have a schedule and stick to it.

That way, your listeners will know that they can expect a new episode to drop every Thursday- or whatever your timeframe is.

Other Considerations

Think about how long you want your podcast to be.

It’s tempting to get too overly ambitious and commit to recording an hour-long podcast twice a week, but it’s far better to record 15 minutes once a week consistently.

Remember, your audience is counting on you to provide consistent content.

The other thing is ensuring that you have enough material to fit your podcast.

You don’t want a lot of rambling or dead air.

That’s where the script comes in handy.

What sort of format do you want to embrace?

For example, will you be a solo host, or will you have guests?

If you’re going to have guests, start coming up with lists of names in advance.

That way, you’ll never be without someone.

Technical Concerns

If you’re just starting out, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a technical team on hand to handle any podcast needs.

You’ll need to record and edit your podcasts on your own.

Make sure that you have a good microphone and a quiet, consistent place to record.

You can also use intuitive, easy editing software right online.

Alitu and GarageBand are terrific editing tools that you can get the hang of after one or two tries.

So cut yourself some slack and get ready for a big learning curve.

Once you understand how to use the editing software, it will be easy.

Podcast Hosting Tips

It can be very daunting to host a podcast.

However, these tips will help you to stay on point and produce something truly phenomenal.

  • Have a script
  • Understand what your audience wants
  • Stay consistent
  • Stick to the format

How Do You Start Podcasting?

You can start podcasting simply by having an idea about what you want to do and then taking the proper steps outlined above to get started.

Of course, the most essential step is actually going out there and buying the equipment.

Then identify your format, and set up a few episodes in advance.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to connect to your audience.

How Do You Get Podcast Hosting?

There are plenty of programs that offer great podcast hosting opportunities.

These are some of the top ones, although there are alternatives that you can find as well.

  • Transistor
  • Podbean
  • Buzzsprout
  • RSS.com

Comparison Between Podcasts and Other Platforms

 Although podcasts are one kind of audio option, they are far from the only one.

This brief guide will give you a rundown and explanation of how podcasts differ from other formats.

What’s the Difference Between a Podcast and an Audio file?

Audio files refer to data that stores music and different types of sound.

Although podcasts can be audio files, they are not rough data stored in your computer.

What is the Difference Between Podcast and Radio?

Radio refers to either live or pre-broadcasted programming that you can get through AM or FM radio.

In addition, you get podcasts through apps on your smartphone.

What is the Difference Between YouTube and a Podcast?

YouTube is a visual medium, and podcasts are audio mediums that conveys specific information.

Making Money Podcasting

Although you won’t make money podcasting right away, you can build an audience and start to make some revenue over time.

How Do Podcasts Make Money?

Most successful podcasts have either sponsors or podcast advertising that make them money.

Additionally, some offer podcast subscriptions.

How Do You Get Paid for Podcasts?

If your podcast is successful, you can get paid through sponsorships, platforms like Patreon, or affiliate marketing.

Podcast Marketing

Marketing your podcast correctly is one vital way to ensure success.

What Is Podcast Marketing?

At its core, podcast marketing refers to the way that you promote your podcast to the world.

You can use various techniques to achieve this.

How Can I Use Podcast Marketing to Grow My Business?

You can diversify your platforms, use social media, entice listeners to subscribe to your podcasts, and try to cross-brand on other different podcasts to increase your visibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s common to have questions when you’re first starting or getting into listening to podcasts.

How Much Money Does It Take To Start a Podcast?

Generally speaking, microphones cost under $50, and you’ll have to spend between $10-$20 on hosting.

What is a Podcast Supposed to Sound Like?

That all depends on your format.

The biggest thing is that it doesn’t sound muddled.

Are Podcasts Audio or Video?

Podcasts are audio.

Are podcasts for free?

Yes, most podcasts are free, although some hosts offer incentives and more content if you subscribe to their Patreon.

How do I unfollow podcasts on my iPhone or iPad?

Simply go to the podcast page and click the “unfollow” button in the upper right corner.

How do I choose the order that episodes play?

Go to your podcast setting and choose oldest to newest or vice versa.

How do I filter seasons and episodes?

There’s a filter right in your settings.

How do I speed up or slow down a podcast episode?

The mini-player at the bottom of the podcast allows you to listen at regular, slowed down, or sped up settings.

How do I set a sleep timer for a podcast episode?

The sleep timer is right in your settings next to the history.

Closing Thoughts

Podcasts are one of the best, most enjoyable, and exciting ways to both listen to and record content.

So if you haven’t found this trend yet, what are you waiting for?

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