Ever wondered what this podcast business is all about? There are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there and everybody seems to be listening to one. We can help shed some light on the topic and recommend a few of our own favourite podcasts that you may enjoy listening to. There’s a wonderful world waiting to be discovered.
A podcast is a recording of an audio program. It’s a bit like listening to a live radio program, but better because you can pause, replay or fast forward. Plus there are podcasts on just about everything: science, music, art, crime, politics, hobbies, sport and history. And you can listen to them anytime and anywhere - while gardening, cooking, walking, on long drives, travelling or just relaxing at home.
Podcasts are a great way to keep you actively entertained, get your mind working, and explore new ideas and interests.
If you are new to podcasts, our Listening to podcasts courses show you, step-by-step, how to get the free ABC Listen app on your Apple or Android phone or tablet, including how to safely download the app, and subscribe and manage podcasts of interest to you. Most podcast apps behave in a similar way to ABC Listen, so you can follow the steps as a guide for getting even more apps and interesting podcasts.
Get listening to a podcast in three steps
You can listen to podcasts on a smartphone, tablet or your computer. But first you need a podcast app that will give you access to a large library of podcasts. There’s quite a range to choose from, depending on which device you are using. Let’s look at how to get started:
Download a podcast app to your device.
If you have an Android smart device, such as a Samsung phone or tablet, you should only use the official Google Play Store to search for and download your selected podcast app.
Most iPhones, iPads and Apple computers come with a podcast app already installed so they’re ready to play whenever you are, but if you do need to download one, try The Podcast app from the official Apple App Store.
If you have a Windows computer, you can play (or stream) an episode(s) direct from the podcast’s website, or download to listen at another time.
If you need help downloading an app to your smartphone or tablet, refer to our All about apps course.
Search for a podcast in the app. Once you have downloaded the podcast app, you can browse through the many categories, most popular podcasts list, or type in the name of a particular podcast in the search bar.
Plug in your headphones, press play, and away you go.
If you find a podcast you particularly enjoy listening to, you can ‘subscribe’ to it, meaning you automatically receive new episodes as they are released. Some podcasts are released weekly, some more often. Some podcasts consist of a number of pre-released ‘episodes’ (much like episodes in a TV series), so you can ‘binge’ listen to all the episodes one after another.
Money saving tip
There are two ways to listen to podcasts.
Option 1: Find the podcast you want to listen to online and press play - this is known as streaming. The podcast will use your home Wi-Fi or mobile data to play, or stream, the audio to you.
Option 2: Download the podcast episodes while connected to your home Wi-Fi to listen to when you’re offline, or not using mobile data.
Streaming podcasts using mobile data – or option 1 – can be more expensive, especially if you have a small data allowance for your device. The most cost efficient way to listen to podcasts is to download them while you’re connected to Wi-Fi so you benefit from saving on mobile data and being able to listen to a podcast while not connected to the internet. You can even subscribe to your favourite podcast so that each new episode automatically downloads when you are using home Wi-Fi.
Some of our favourites
By the end of 2019 there were more than 800,000 podcasts, with over 30 million episodes. With so much choice, it can be hard to find what you like, so here’s a list of our favourite podcasts to get you started.
Genre: True crime
Delve deep into the life of Sydney serial conman, Hamish Watson, who scammed millions of dollars out of unsuspecting victims in the U.S, Canada, Britain, Hong Kong and Australia. Created by The Australian newspaper, this podcast reached number one on the Australian podcast charts, and number three in the UK and Canada.
ABC hosts Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski interview people you may or may not have heard about, all of them with fascinating life stories. Episodes include ‘The miracles and limits of modern medicine’, ‘Devices and democracy: will Big Tech control us?’ and ‘A revolutionary idea to stop good food going to waste’.
Australian Geographic’s Talking Australia shares inspiring stories about Australian explorers, adventurers and conservationists. Hear about our fascinating Australian landscape, and those who help us know more about it. Episodes include ‘Why paddling the Murray River is an adventure for everyone’ and ‘Why flies are way cooler than you think’.
This podcast answers everything you ever (or never) wondered about. Episodes include examining the disappearance of Flight MH370, and how safecracking works.
This Australian podcast, hosted by Linda Ross, features expert tips, conversations and practical advice for the home gardener. Episodes include ‘How to grow tomatoes’ and ‘The little world of African Violets and Frangipani’, among many others.
This podcast from Traveller.com.au provides useful travel tips and may provide inspiration for your next trip, when it’s safe to travel again. Episodes include ‘Why train travel is the best way to see a country’, ‘Australia’s amazing undiscovered outback’ and ‘How to do expensive things on the cheap’.
You won’t find recipes on this BBC podcast, but you will delve deep into every aspect of the food we eat.
Many of ABC Radio’s shows can be listened to as podcasts, months or years after being first broadcast. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try the ABC’s podcast collection. For example, have a listen to: