There seem to be two types of people out there – those who are obsessed with podcasts and listen to them religiously, and those who have no idea what a podcast is, how to listen to them, or why you would even want to. This post is for the latter half of that group. If you are already a frequent podcast-listener, you may want to skip to the bottom of this post where I talk about my favorite podcasts in case you find something new! For everyone else, listen up while I answer all your questions about podcasts (or try to, anyway).
Ok so first things first, what is a podcast? Basically it’s a digital audio file that you can download on your phone or listen to online. This post is mainly going to tackle listening to podcasts on your phone, since that’s how I usually listen to them, but here’s a good resource for information about listening online.
Think of a podcast like an audio book, only instead of listening to one story, you hear a different short story or perspective each week, usually between 30 minutes to an hour long. When you find a podcast you like, you can subscribe to the podcast’s channel (sort of like how you subscribe to a blog) and then when new episodes become available they will automatically download to your phone when you’re connected to wifi.
Where do you download them? If you have an iPhone, you download them from this purple app that should already be on your phone called, “Podcasts.” Yep – it’s right there. To be honest I completely ignored this app for about the first two years I had an iPhone, so don’t feel dumb if you’ve never even noticed it.
I don’t have an Android so I’m not 100% sure about how you download podcasts on that type of phone, but I think you need to download an app first. Here’s a helpful article about that. If you have any experience with listening to podcasts on a phone that isn’t an iPhone, please leave your tips in the comments for others!
Once you open the app, use the buttons on the bottom to toggle between views and find podcasts you think sound interesting. I like using the Top Charts view because you can see what other people are listening to and enjoying.
You can also use the Search function if you’re looking for something specific, or use the Featured function if you’re looking for something new/different.
Once you find a podcast that looks interesting, connect to your wifi and start downloading! And don’t worry – all these podcasts are free! 😀
Do podcasts use your data? Yes and no. If you download a podcast when you’re not connected to wifi, you will get a pop-up message alerting you that your data is going to be used. Only do this if you don’t care about using your data! It does take a lot of data to download these, so if you’re on a limited plan you’ll want to be careful. I only ever download new podcasts when I’m connected to wifi, just to be safe.
Once your podcasts are downloaded to your phone, no data will be used to listen to them. As long as you’ve downloaded them ahead of time, you can listen to podcasts even when you have no service or are on airplane mode. This is one of my favorite parts about podcasts!
Another thing to note: podcasts take up a lot of storage space on your phone, so when you’re done listening to a podcast go ahead and delete it. You can always download it again if you need it later!
When do you listen to podcasts? I’m sure this answer will be different for everyone, but I like to listen to podcasts when I’m walking Jack, walking to and from work, cleaning the apartment (especially vacuuming since it’s too loud to hear the TV) and cooking dinner. I’ve recently started listening to them on long runs too, and it really keeps my brain active when I would normally start to get bored.
What podcasts do you listen to? This changes all the time for me, but here’s a description of all the podcasts I am currently subscribed to, in order from most favorite to least:
- This American Life – This podcast features weekly stories about amazing things happening in the U.S. They can range from interviews with kids attending inner city schools in Detroit, to weird coincidences that happen to people, to stories about people who took a leap of faith and tried something new. These stories are always amazing, and I love when I see the notification for a new episode. This is by far my favorite podcast!
- Serial – Created by the same people who make This American Life, this podcast follows one story week after week in different installments. It sort of reminds me of listening to a favorite TV show – you can’t wait to hear what’s going to happen on the next episode! It’s relatively new (only about 9 episodes) but so far I’m loving it!
- TED Radio Hour – These podcasts combine inspiring TED talks on similar topics into one podcast. For example you could hear about exploring space and the depth of the ocean, or hear inspirational talks from CEOs of leading global companies. This used to be my favorite podcast, but I’ve listened to almost all the episodes and they don’t have new ones too often. 🙁 Either way, definitely give this one a shot!
- Joy the Baker – I love these podcasts! These fun talks hosted by Joy of Joy the Baker and Tracy of Shutterbean cover everything from food to fitness to blogging, and remind me of catching up with a best friend. Sometimes they are random and all over the place, just like a real conversation between best friends would be. If you’re in a bad mood or looking for something to cheer you up, definitely listen to these.
- *Edited to add* If I Were You – This podcast is one of my favorites!! It’s basically two guys giving advice to people who send in random questions, and they are just too, too funny. This podcast actually wasn’t originally on my list, but I added it after a commenter recommended it! It’s hilarious!
- Jillian Michaels – I initially downloaded these podcasts to brush up on my fitness news, but after listening to a few episodes I realized they are actually more about casually chatting with fitness superstar Jillian Michaels and they don’t always have a health/fitness element to them. That’s ok with me – there’s a lot of talk about therapy/psychology and I find them really interesting!
- Discover Spanish – These podcasts are awesome for learning Spanish. I used them before our trip to Bolivia and they helped so much! Of course they’re not as easy listening (you actually have to use your brain!) so they’re a little different from the other podcasts, but I still recommend them!
- Radio Lab – These fun podcasts review the latest news in science and technology, and remind me a lot of the TED talks. I just started listening to these recently, but I like them a lot!
- High Impact Blogging – In these podcasts, Girls Gone Sporty blogger Laura Williams interviews bloggers around the web. I like these podcasts a lot, but after a while they get a bit redundant (same questions, same interview style, etc.). I actually think I would like these much more if Laura didn’t stick to the script so much! Still these are great because when an interview with one of your favorite bloggers pops up, you’ll definitely want to listen.
- Stuff You Missed in History Class – These podcasts go over interesting historical events that were often too minor to cover in school, but are really interesting! Fabio and I love listening to these on long road trips.
- Balanced Bites – This is another health/wellness podcast, but it’s a little too paleo-focused for me so I haven’t listened to it in a while. If you’re into paleo you would probably love these!
- NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour – This podcasts talks about new shows that are going to be on TV, new movies coming out, what celebrities are up to, etc. It’s not really my thing, but it’s nice to listen to when I need something different.
I also just subscribed to Comedy Bang Bang, Love + Radio, and Freakonomics Radio, so I will let you know how I like those once I start listening more!
Phew – that was a lot of information. I hope this post was helpful to all you new podcast listeners! If you have any questions just ask in the comments!
Question of the day: Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones are your favorites?