What in the World is a Podcast?

Welcome to The Book Owl Podcast!

Wait, maybe you don’t know what a podcast is or how to listen to one. Well, let me introduce you the the wonderful world of podcasting with this quick and easy guide.

By the time you reach the bottom of the page, you’ll be able to tell all your friends…

  • What a podcast is
  • How to listen to a podcast
  • Why you should and how to subscribe to a podcast
  • What The Book Owl is podcasting about

Ready? Then let’s go.

First up, What is a podcast?

Put simply, a podcast is an audio show. Think of it like a radio talk show, but instead of tuning in the dial of your radio, you listen on your phone, your tablet, your smart speaker, or your computer.

Much like television, each installment of a podcast is called an episode. Episodes may come daily, weekly, or on whatever schedule the host (that would be the presenter) has decided.

Like radio shows, podcasts are free to listen to (some podcasts have exclusive content you have to pay for, but this isn’t the norm).

Unlike a radio show, though, you don’t have to tune in at a specific time to catch the latest episode. Once an episode is released, you can listen any time you choose, whether you listen on release day, sometime later that week, or even months (sometimes years) later.

Podcasts have a lot of variety! They can vary from being super fancy highly-produced shows to someone simply rambling into a microphone at home. They can range from five minutes long to a couple hours long. They can be solo shows or interview shows. They can be funny, newsy, sales-y, or spooky.

Next up: How Do You Listen to a Podcast?

That’s kind of up to you. Once you find a podcast you want to try out, you can either stream it or download it. Let’s cover these options a bit more.

Streaming means you’re listening to an episode without putting the file on your computer or phone. To listen by streaming, you must have either an Internet or cellular connection. If you have limited data or a wimpy WiFi connection, this is not the optimal way to listen.

Downloading means you’re putting the audio file (aka “the episode”) on your device. You can then listen your episode later. Downloading requires an Internet or cellular connection. However, once the podcast episode is on your device, you can listen to it anywhere at any time whether you’re connected or not (unless your battery dies or a pesky owl swoops down and steal your phone). Once you’re done listening, you can delete the file to free up space or you can leave it to listen to again later.

So which is best? Either really, and I use both. I use streaming to listen to daily podcasts (such as the news). For weekly podcasts, I typically download all episodes I’m interested in that have been released that week. Then I can listen to them no matter where I’m at.

But wait, we still haven’t covered HOW to listen. As I said, you could go to the podcast’s website. Most will have a listing of each episode that you can play directly from the website.

Or, as they say, there’s an app for that. Loads of apps, in fact.

Listening apps include Apple Podcasts (which comes with any Apple device), Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast, PocketCast, and many many more. And don’t worry, they all play the exact same episode. It’s just a matter of which one is most convenient and visually appealing to you.

Once in your app, you can search for the specific podcast you want or you can browse your favorite topics until you find some podcasts you like.

If you then click/tap on that podcast, you’ll find a list of episodes sorted (usually) with the most recent on top. Pick an episode that sounds interesting and click/tap on it to play (this will stream the episode) or opt to download it.

If you download it, you’ll have a folder in the app that contains your downloaded episodes. Go in there anytime you like and listen to your new episodes.

If you find out you like what you’re listening to, you may want to subscribe to the podcast. Why, well, that’s what’s coming up next.

Why Would I Subscribe to a Podcast?

Basically, it’s convenient. Plus, it shows the podcast hosts you like what they’re doing and gives them a little boost in the podcast ranking system on some listening apps.

But let’s get back to you.

When you subscribe, you no longer have to go hunting and searching for the podcasts you like to listen to.

Imagine a magazine. If you get a subscription, you don’t have to do anything when the latest issue comes out. You just open your mailbox and there it is. If you didn’t subscribe, you’d have to run to the store, search the racks, take it to the cashier, and then trudge back home.

Unlike a magazine, though, you don’t have to pay to subscribe to a podcast (unless as mentioned above, it’s a private, members-only podcast).

Subscribing is easy! In your podcast app, when you’re looking at the podcast’s page, you’ll see a button that says Subscribe (clever, right?). Click/tap on that and you’re set.

Set for what? you ask.

There’s some variation depending on your listening app and your settings, but somewhere you’ll find a section for Episodes In there, you’ll find a complete list of the latest episodes of all the podcasts you subscribed to. Going back to the magazine analogy, Imagine this as being the mailbox where you’ll find your latest issue.

Cool, huh!?

You can then scroll through this list, pick the episodes you want to stream or download, and listen to your heart’s delight.

You can subscribe to as many podcasts as you like. If you ever change your mind, you can always unsubscribe.

A little note about checking your settings. Some podcast apps will automatically download ALL new episodes of podcasts you’ve subscribed to. This can eat up storage space, so I don’t recommend it unless you only listen to one or two podcasts. Some devices will also send notifications to you. These can be annoying, but you can turn them off (usually in your device’s settings, not the app’s settings).

Now that you’re a Podcast Expert, if you’re looking for a podcast to start with, you may be wondering…

What is The Book Owl Podcast?

It’s my little passion project.

I love books, but there’s already gobs of book review podcasts out there. Plus, I really didn’t want to do reviews. I wanted something different, something that appealed to my curious, trivia-loving brain. So what could I podcast about?

A brainstorming session had me listing all kinds of different topics such as unique tomes, museums, libraries, literacy, history, travel, and more.

Eventually I realized all these could be tied under one big book-themed umbrella.

And so, The Book Owl Podcast was born, or rather, hatched.

Delivered with my snarky style of humor, the podcast covers strange books, quirky bookshops, legendary libraries, wacky writers, and much much more. Basically, it’s everything books, minus the reviews. Each episode runs about 30 minutes.

If you’d like to learn more, you can…

      • Visit The Book Owl’s About page,
      • Listen to the trailer, or
      • Jump over to the Subscribe page and get weekly episodes delivered to your device.

Of course, if you have any questions about listening or subscribing or have a topic you want The Book Owl to cover, don’t hesitate to contact me.


Header Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay