Podcasting refers to broadcasting programs made available online through a subscription feed such as RSS (Rich Site Summary), to be played on iPods or MP3 players. Subscribers can also listen to podcasts through their computers, rather than transferring them to a portable audio player. Later versions of podcasting will incorporate video signal. Cell phones with video capability will be able to receive and play video podcasts.
Podcasting is the brainchild of Adam Curry, former vee-jay of MTV. It has gained wide appeal since late 2004, with major networks and radio shows making material available for podcast enthusiasts. USA Today reported in February 2005 that over 3,300 podcast programs were available, just months after its inception.
One of the most creative aspects of podcasting is that it allows individuals to produce their own shows at home. Anyone with the right software and a microphone can begin podcasting, reaching a worldwide audience. This opens the door to those who cannot afford to pay public broadcasting systems large fees to air their programs. Podcasts also sidestep broadcasting regulations that constrain mainstream radio and television; perhaps most apparent in "podnography," the podcasting version of pornography.
The most popular podcast as of February 2005, according to one site, was the The Dawn and Drew Show, an updated "George Burns and Gracie Allen" show featuring married-couple banter. On the radio scene, Seattle's KOMO station, Los Angeles' KFI, and Boston's WBGH were among the first to provide podcasting. The CBS network was also early to cast its line into the new arena. Podcasting shows also come out of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Though podcasting is a term that combines the word broadcasting with Apple's iPod, any device or system that plays MP3 files will do. For this reason, suggestions have been made to change the pod in podcasting to an acronym meaning "Personal On-Demand." As of June 2005, Apple incorporated podcasting into its iTunes interface, capitalizing on the association and growing popularity.
Some blogging sites have begun to make their blogs available as podcasts, referred to as blogcasting. Religious and liberal podcasts are also popular. For more information and a current directory of podcasts, check Adam Curry's Indiepodder.org. Note that some podcasts are not child-appropriate.