by Deb Ng
This past week I received a couple of “what is podcasting?” emails. It seems some folks are a little confused by the term “podcast” plus they want to know the difference between traditional podcasting, and an online radio network such as BlogTalkRadio. So, how ’bout a primer?
What is Podcasting?
A podcast, using an iPod or other MP3 player to listen to online broadcasts, is usually a prerecorded audio file one can download and play at one’s convenience. A podcaster will publish the audio file to his blog, website, or a podcast directory to be downloaded by the listener.
A podcast is generally less interactive. Since it’s prerecorded, the podcast may have guests, but it doesn’t always allow for listener call ins, or chat rooms. The benefit of a podcast is its mobility. Downloaded onto an iPod, one can listen while working, working out, and now, even driving in the car. Most podcasters have to purchase expensive equipment and download programs in order to publish a podcast. Like a blog, one can subscribe to a podcast’s RSS feed to receive updates.
What is Online Radio
Online radio is more live and interactive. Perfect for the less technically-savvy, all one needs is a phone. Most online radio networks offer their radio hosts a switchboard in order to invite special guests and listeners to call in. They might also offer a chatroom so listeners can talk about the online radio show and ask questions of the special guests.
What is the Difference Between the Two
The difference is the ability to offer a live broadcast in an interactive setting. Listeners don’t have to download an episode if they’d prefer to listen live, and they can even become part of the conversation. Also, instead of hosting their own podcasts, online radio is hosted on a specific site. Plus, there’s a technical support team on hand to help answer questions. However, like podcasting, online radio episodes are archived so those missing the live broadcast can listen on demand.
Also, most podcasts and archived online radio broacasts offer the option to stream, that is listen online, rather than download the episode. Online Radio is a more attractive option for many because they don’t need to invest in special equipment, take up huge blocks of precious computer space and it enables them to interact with their individual communties.