How to: Get podcasts easily

Podcasting is a great way to catch up on radio and hear niche programmes

Podcasting is a great way to catch up on radio and hear niche programmes

Podcasts are a great way of catching up on radio shows you’ve missed, listening to the best of international radio and finding some high-quality niche shows for all interests. Adam Maguire shows what you need to do to become a podcast listener and lists some must-hear shows to get once you are.

There is a good chance you have been encouraged by a radio presenter to get the ‘podcast’ of their show; although they have likely left if up to you to find out what that means.

In essence a podcast is a regularly updated series of audio – or video – clips available online. They can be of any length, on any topic, of any frequency and they are not necessarily based on existing radio shows. Instead of having to find the show every week, however, you can simply ‘subscribe’ to a show once and new episodes will automatically be downloaded to your computer from then on.

However in order to become a listener you need a podcast player, though these are easily found.

The most popular podcast player is iTunes, which can also be used to play any music you have on your computer. The software is free to download and has a dedicated podcast section built in, which you will find on the left-hand menu when you open it up (pictured below).


Clicking on this section will bring you straight to your library. To start downloading a show you can click on the ‘podcast directory’ (pictured below), which will bring you to a huge selection of programmes.


The iTunes podcast directory hosts countless shows from around the world. Most Irish radio shows have podcasts however as podcasting is is international you can also tune in to American and British radio shows – or programmes that are made specifically for the internet.

You can select from the featured podcasts on the directory’s main page, search by category or even search by name to find what you want.

Once you find a show you like you can click on the ‘Subscribe’ button (pictured below) and it will start to download to your library. You can return to the directory and add another show if you like or if you are finished you can wait for your episodes to download.


Once done you can listen to it on your PC – or even transfer it to an mp3 player – and now all new episodes of your shows will start to download automatically when you open iTunes. If you decide you do not want to listen to a particular show any more you can simply click ‘unsubscribe’ and your computer will no longer fetch new episodes for you.

There are podcasts available to suit every taste and not just those that are regular radio shows. Just be aware, however, that some of the shows may not be of great quality and you may sometimes need to use trial and error to find the best ones out there.

To help you get started, however, here are a few hand-picked podcasts that are top quality and well worth a listen.

Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews (BBC Radio)
Both Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo really know their films and know what makes a good one.
If you want to listen to film reviews, news and witty banter then this is the podcast for you.

This American Life
This American Life is an award winning show from US public radio. Each week’s show is based around a theme and features a number of stories connected to it, usually true stories from normal people.
This American Life is sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious but almost always inspirational and beautiful.

LibriVox is an audio-book service, making its readings of out-of-copyright books available as individual podcasts. Classics from Dracula to Sense and Sensibility are covered with each book acting as a separate podcast you can subscribe to. Best of all each book is split up into a number of episodes so you can listen to it one piece at a time.

This podcast features talks from the TED conference in California, which are given by the world’s greatest minds on bizarre and mind-blowing topics like ‘The intelligence of crows’ or ’6 ways mushrooms can save the universe’.
The speakers are simply required to talk about something interesting and unique without notes and within a strict 18 minute time-limit.
Be careful when downloading, though. The videos from TedTalks are also available as a podcast and are quite large so best avoided if you only want to listen to the talks.

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