Body & Fitness

Podcast 101: Everything you need to know

Tune in to the best online entertainment for free.

Podcasts are the biggest thing in entertainment online and they’re free to download.

From the fascinating medical breakthroughs of TED Talks Health to the self-help advice of Happier with Gretchen Rubin, the popularity of podcasts is growing by the day.

But if you’re new to the world of podcasts, getting started can be a little daunting. Here’s everything you need to know to get hooked on the world’s favourite spoken-word format.

What’s a podcast?

The most common description of a podcast is an episodic audio programme that you can subscribe to – it’s a little like a radio programme except you can listen to it anywhere, anytime. Although the name comes from Apple’s iPod combined with the word “broadcast”, you don’t need an Apple product to listen in.

How can I start listening in?

Because the audio format is perfect for when you’re out and about, a lot of people listen to podcasts via a smartphone or tablet. The truth is you can just as easily listen on your computer or laptop as well, but there’s a lot of convenience to having them on a portable device. Other than that, you’ll need an internet connection to download them – either via Wi-Fi or your mobile phone’s data allowance – and, of course, a pair of headphones. If you’re playing them at home, you might even like to pair your phone with wireless speakers via a Bluetooth connection.

Is there an app?

The simplest way to manage your podcasts is to use a dedicated podcast app. People who make podcasts want you to listen and it’s simple for them to make their episodes available across a wide range of platforms. So while you can manually find and download a podcast from a website if you want to, an app makes this much easier.

Depending on which podcasts you enjoy, new episodes might be available sporadically, monthly, weekly or even daily! An app will manage your podcast subscriptions and automatically grab new episodes for you.

If you use an Apple iPhone or iPad, your iTunes Podcast app can handle this for you – search for the name of the podcast in the app and hit the subscribe button. Or you can choose to just download the individual episodes you’re interested in.

Android devices have a big selection of apps to choose from: Pocket Casts ($5.99, is one of the best; and Podcast Addict (free download), is an excellent free app.

Once you have your app, most podcasts are free.

Will they drain my data allowance?

Because podcasts are mostly spoken word, the file sizes tend to be quite small. A 30-minute podcast should be about 15MB in size, which isn’t much by today’s standards. But, as always, you can definitely download everything you need via your home Wi-Fi if you’re worried about burning through your mobile data allowance.

3 podcasts to tune in to

TED Talks Health: Just like the famous TED Talk videos, this show sees doctors and researchers sharing their latest discoveries around all aspects of medicine and health.

*[Sleep With Me:]** If you struggle with insomnia, these stories are designed to take your mind off those racing thoughts that keep you awake.

Happier with Gretchin Rubin: The author of bestselling book The Happiness Project offers tips, tools and strategies to help make you and your family happy.

Related stories

Get NZ Woman’s Weekly home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.