The Beginners Guide To Podcasts

Whenever I mention podcasts to the uninitiated around 8 times out of 10 I get the following response…

“What IS a podcast?”

I then go on to explain how it’s an amazing medium that could quite possibly change how you consume media forever and revolutionise your entire life. Usually after showing some interest, they follow up with…

“So…how do I listen to podcasts?”

So with that in mind, I thought it was high time for a comprehensive blog post explaining everything. Primarily aimed at those of you who have stumbled upon this website through Google, Facebook or some other means, I thought I’d write this blog post as an introduction to podcasts, what they are, how and where to listen to them and even make a couple of recommendations too.

What is a podcast?

Put simply, podcasts are downloadable radio shows which you can stream over the internet or save to your computer, phone, iPod, iPad or whatever device you’re using. The beautiful thing about them is firstly, 99.9% of them are absolutely free and secondly there are shows for literally everything you could possibly be interested in from tomato gardening to DIY, history and politics to music, quizzes, movies and yes…even James Bond. That’s one of the most beautiful things about it, there is literally something for everyone.

The other beautiful thing is that when you watch TV or listen to mainstream radio, you typically get super broad topics. With podcasts, there are entire shows dedicated to very specific things. If you’re a fan of Dr Who or Game of Thrones for example, there are shows purely dedicated to those things. If you play certain video games chances are there will be a podcast purely about that game.
There’s even a podcast called ‘Plumbing The Death Star’ where the hosts dissect fictional universes and ask the important questions like who’s job is it to fix the toilets on the Death Star.

For the uninitiated, there is an entire world of completely free entertainment just sitting there unknown and untouched.

How to listen to podcasts

Option #1: iTunes

By the far the most popular way of listening is through iTunes. With that said, the very word can bring about waves of wrath from iTunes haters who all tend to have stories about how it once made their computer explode or lose all of their music. So, thankfully there are some alternatives that will keep everybody happy.

If you’re on good terms with iTunes however, it’s as easy as picking up your phone, downloading the podcasts app (it’s just called “podcasts”) from the App Store, and typing in a subject that you’re interested in.

If you’re on a computer, then simply download iTunes. Once installed, click on the store, type in a subject you’re interested in, then scroll down past the music and movies until you see the podcast section. Choose a show and away you go!

Option #2: Stitcher (for Android users)

This is one of the most popular options if you’re not a fan of iTunes. Again, it’s as simple as going to the App store on your phone, downloading the Stitcher app, then searching for an interesting topic once you’ve installed it.

NB – You can use Stitcher on Apple devices too.

Option #3: Other Apps

There are of course many other apps for listening to podcasts including my personal favourite ‘Pocket Casts.’ It’s simply a matter of trying a few on for size and seeing what suits you the best.

Option #4: Youtube

Quite a few podcasts (ourselves included) also put their shows up on youtube with accompanying video or usually just a still image of the shows logo. While this is largely for convenience (it’s really easy to click play on a youtube video, but you need to download an app for audio podcasts), though being glued to your computer screen to consume an entire show can be a little cumbersome.
The beauty of audio podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere – in the car, out walking, doing your shopping etc. Normal mundane tasks can be significantly brightened up by listening to a show you love, while wading through the usual day to day drudgery.

The Importance of Subscribing

Once you discover a show you like, one thing you must be sure to do is click the ‘subscribe’ button and make sure your app is set to auto-download new episodes. Firstly, you’ll never miss a new episode and you’ll have it automatically waiting for you as soon as it becomes available, and second, it helps the show itself. When a new episode gets a load of downloads all at once on release day, it gets a significant boost up the chart on iTunes, helping the show get more exposure and hopefully pick up some new listeners.

When To Listen To Podcasts

Literally anytime, anywhere! Some people scoff at the thought of listening to a 3+ hour podcast, but when you’re out and about getting stuff done, that time will fly by. I have my earphones in for pretty much most of my waking hours these days. Whether I’m doing the dishes, wandering around the supermarket or prancing around the gym in my lycra, chances are I’m listening to a podcast and either laughing, learning or thinking – 3 important things I think we should all do a little of every single day.

Podcast Recommendations

Like I mentioned earlier, the world of podcasting is so huge and diverse anybody can find a show they love on pretty much any topic. With that said, here are some of my personal favourites I subscribe and listen to on a daily basis. Simply type these into the search box on your podcast app of choice, hit subscribe and you’ll be set with hours of free entertainment…

The Joe Rogan Experience
Great chat show with a wide range of different guests from authors to fighters to comedians – 3+ episodes per week.

Rebel Force Radio
Really cool Star Wars show hosted by Jimmy Mac and Jason Swank.

The Tim Ferriss Show
Interesting interviews with all kinds of different people from neuro-scientists to Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Blues Kitchen Radio
Great show hosted by Liam Hart and Gareth Ragg showcasing cool guitar music new and old.

The Empire Film Podcast
The official podcast from Empire magazine with movie news and interviews.

Distraction Pieces w/ Scroobius Pip
Another great chat show with a wide range of different guests from Russell Brand to Simon Pegg.

The Last Podcast on the Left
This is my newest addition as recommended by James Bond Radio listener Simon Woolley. This one is not for the faint of heart. The hosts investigate famous serial killers and a whole host of other nasty stuff and have a bloody good laugh while they do it. If you’re a fan of disgraceful, non-politically correct humour that would never have a chance in hell of being broadcast on mainstream TV, then you’ll love this…if not, stay well away.

Last but not least, our very own…James Bond Radio
You can tune in to Chris and I every two weeks discussing, dissecting and downright loving Bond in all his forms from the movies to the comics to the books. Just type James Bond Radio into the search box on your favourite app and you’ll find us!

by Tom Sears
James Bond Radio

  • Chris

    Nice tūt. Thanks for sharing. I guess this’ll have to tide me over until the next podcast. I’m sorry guys, but one show every two weeks just doesn’t cut it. You’re gonna have to step it up. I’m having JBR withdrawals!

    • Haha…well, you could always listen to half an episode on release day, then then the other half a week later?

  • Fly_Dog

    If I can add one more podcast to the list… Mission Log. It’s a Star Trek weekly that has much commitment and depth as JBR — take that as a high compliment for the hosts of both.