Just like an audio book, but cheaper and more accessible, podcasts are a great way to catch up on current affairs, get the lowdown on specialist subjects, learn a new recipe for scones, or simply have a good laugh.
On public transport, while cooking, editing photos from a recent holiday, the daily commute to work, on your lunch break; just about anywhere is a great place to put on your headphones and fire up the latest episode of your favourite podcast.
Think of it as personal radio, when you want it, to educate or entertain.
Everyone does it as well! From unknowns in their lounge room to celebrities, world-leading scientists and even educators from the world’s top institutes. Even if you lived for 1,000 years, you wouldn’t have the time to listen to all of them (don’t quote us on this).
How to listen to a podcast
There’s a huge amount of home PC and mobile software for podcast listening out there, most of it being quite simple: Search for the podcast you want, subscribe, then download the audio file. Some programs also allow you to stream podcasts without downloading. It’s as easy as that.
These apps will get you started; then you can work out the best for your needs.
Here are some of the best new podcasts to whet your appetite.
What you’ll hear: Comedy, topical banter.
Sitting in iTunes’ New & Noteworthy list for several weeks now, How ‘Bout This? is the result of three of Australia’s top impro-comedy minds locking themselves in a room for an hour and talking about topical news, ideas from fan suggestions or simply posing each other ludicrous hypotheticals. Hilarious and silly.
What you’ll hear: Global-minded and positive living.
This audio series, titled, Ideas Worth Spreading, is a spin-off of the popular non-profit TED and TEDx conferences from the world’s leading doers and thinkers. Podcasts can be short and sweet or lengthy, and present a range of thought-provoking and stimulating subject matters, all focussed on improving the world we live in.
What you’ll hear: Arts, literature
New York Times review editor, Pamela Paul, is joined by various authors as they chinwag about the arts, ponder ideas, both casual and lofty, and discuss all things books. Consider it a great way to keep your finger on the ‘page’ of the international book scene.
What you’ll hear: Politics, religion, societal issues
Technically started in late 2013, John Safran and Father Bob Maguire are two men who can polarise audiences like no other, which, naturally, makes for very interesting listening. Tackling subjects as contentious as they as thought-provoking, regular special guests join the fray to become part of the wider conversation.
What you’ll hear: Science, comedy
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Adam Spencer join forces to present Sleek Geeks; an exploration of the science and technology behind everyday mysteries. It’s a lighthearted way to get a hard science hit, delivered in layman’s fashion.
What you’ll hear: Current affairs, human-interest
A voice many will recognise from The Simpsons, Harry Shearer takes his turn at current affairs and human-interest stories from America and around the globe. Expect a mixed bag of whatever interests Shearer that week; politics, show business, media, you name it.
What you’ll hear: Star Wars banter
Han shot first. This and many more details about the Star Wars universe are what you can expect from this podcast from Australian comedian, Steele Saunders. Regular guests wax poetic about their love of Star Wars, debate aspects of re-releases and maybe even bust out a character impression.
What you’ll hear: Health, lifestyle
As the name suggests, these podcasts are bite-sized nuggets of advice, all focussed on helping you live better and stay healthy. Presented by Dr. Brian Morris, each episode offers practical advice and tips, and while no replacement for medical advice from your GP, is a great way to learn better habits to get more out of life.