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Making the most of podcasting

Have you come across the term podcasting yet? If you haven’t you probably soon will. Steve Nichols explains all.

Adam Curry, a former VJ for MTV, developed the concept of podcasting. He became intrigued with the idea of freeing internet radio and audio blogs from his computer and putting them on the hard drive of his Apple iPod.

He called the result podcasting, named after the Apple iPod that is often at the centre of the system.

Instead of listening to radio over the airwaves, you download the radio shows you want from the internet onto your iPod or MP3 player and listen to them at your leisure.

Thousands of amateur bloggers have launched podcasts and even companies like Heineken and Playboy have got in on the act. Virgin Radio recently became the first major radio station to offer content for podcasting.

Podcasting is growing fast. There were just 17 Google results for podcasting in September 2003. In early April 2005 there were nearly two million.

Talking about podcasting in a recent interview, Mark Curry said: "It is totally going to kill the business model of radio.

"[Radio stations] are scared to death of the next generation - like my daughter who is 14 - who don't listen to radio. They are on MSN, they've got their iPod, their MP3 player, they've got their Xbox - they are not listening to radio. So how are they going to reach these audiences?"

Opportunity

But what could be a threat to commercial radio stations could easily be turned into an opportunity for business communicators.

The same technology can be used to deliver business news, training, financial reports, messages from the CEO – anything.

To fully enjoy what podcasting is all about, you will need to download special software to "tune in" to these podcasts. Called an RSS newsfeed aggregator, this allows people to search for podcasts on the net and automatically download them.

As I reported in my feature “Adding streaming audio to your web site or intranet” (click here to read the feature), audio is fast, friendly, breaks down barriers and is very compelling - you just have to click on that button!

If you can produce audio programmes using the techniques outlined in that article it is very easy to make them downloadable as MP3 files suitable for an iPod or MP3 player. To see what I mean, just right click and save this link to listen to a six-minute podcast about CiB, recorded with Ken Runicles, CiB chairman at last year’s conference and awards, (1MByte, MP3 file). If you haven’t got MP3 support in your browser you can listen to the programme via the net by clicking here.

For another example right click and save this audio example about MG Rover (4Mbyte, MP3).

But how could you use podcasting in your company? The only thing stopping us is our lack of ideas.

Further reading:

Find out about podcasting at: http://www.podcastingnews.com/articles/What_is_Podcasting.html

Find a podcast for you at http://www.podcast.net/

Find out more about streaming audio by reading Steve Nichols’ feature at http://www.infotechcomms.co.uk/info10.htm

About the Author

Steve Nichols (steve@infotechcomms.co.uk) runs InfoTech Communications and is editor of this web site. InfoTech specialises in online communications and has acted as intranet consultant and trainer for many blue-chip companies including Aviva, AWG, Shell, BT, Standard Life, HBOS, BNFL, Accenture and Australia New Zealand Bank.

Steve Nichols