For Christmas, my husband, in a moment of gift-equity guilt, gave me an iPod. Not just any old iPod, either, but a big dog 60 gig iPod with video. This sucker has room for all of the music I could possibly want to carry around with me, and still have gobs of space left over.
Podcasting has been described as "radio on demand." Anyone with a microphone and a computer can record a show, or podcast, with information, entertainment, or chitchat, and upload it to the internet. Podcasters register with a service like iTunes, Podshow, or Podcast Alley. I then use software on my computer to subscribe to the podcast. (By default, iPods are set up with iTunes, but other software is available.) The software monitors all of my subscriptions, and picks up new episodes when they are added. I can then synch them to my iPod. It's not necessary to have iPod or another mp3 device, though. You can listen to podcasts using any mp3 player on your computer.
Media and business outlets are starting to hop onto the podcasting bandwagon. I am hugely grateful that NPR has finally added Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! to the line up, and I also enjoy the Jack Horkheimer: Stargazer videos, since my public television station only shows them in the middle of the night.
For the most part, though, the podcasts I enjoy are a bit further off the radar. Many of them are being produced by enthusiastic amateurs wanting to share their hobbies or occupations, or just wanting to talk to you for awhile.
Here are a few podcasts I enjoy. (Note: While I have flagged a couple of these for being R rated consistently, others may let a bad word or non-politically-correct concept slip in from time to time. Use caution when listening at work or around kids.)
Cast On: Brenda Dayne, an expatriate in Wales, talks about knitting and life, and features pod-safe music to keep it all moving along.
Vintage ToonCast: Remember those great old cartoons from the 40s? A lot of them are in the public domain now, and this video podcast will give you a new one each week. It's self-identified as "explicit" on iTunes, but that's more for political correctness (for example, brief representations of blackface or minstrel shows) than obscenity.
The Everyday Muse: A guy decides to write a poem every day in 2006. To keep himself honest, he puts them all in a podcast at the end of the week.
Librivox: This project turns public domain books into audio books. Volunteers sign up to read a chapter or a whole book.
Astronomy a Go-Go: A thorough, but easy-to-understand, overview of what is going on in the night sky.
Rolling Rs: Daily video Spanish lesson, taught by a very engaging junior high Spanish teacher. The first sentence you will learn is "I'll pay the bill." Very sneaky, amigo.
Secret Knitting: Another podcast for knitters. Pick up your needles, and Daniela will tell you what to knit. When you are done, then you will know what you have.
Look At His Butt!: Two chicks with a thing for William Shatner analyze his shows, his movies, his music, his career, and, well, his butt. And some other stuff, which leads to an R rating.
Chubb Creek: Remember the two geeky guys on the AV squad in high school? Imagine them as 40-somethings in a world where techies are now cool. That doesn't even begin to explain this podcast from Canada. Rated R, guaranteed, every time.