Podcasts, or webcasts, are shows about many different topics that are broadcast over the web and broken up into parts, or episodes. You subscribe to podcasts and new episodes are automatically delivered to you as they are released.
We’ve collected the best websites for finding many different types of webcasts and for finding resources to help you in creating and producing your own podcasts.
In the coming weeks, we will be publishing other articles about the best websites for educating and entertaining yourself online, such as sites for eBooks, audiobooks, movies and TV shows, documentaries, user-made videos, free online courses, news and information, and music (downloads, streaming, and radio).
There are several podcast directory websites that offer a central place to search for all kinds of podcasts and provide resources for creating your own podcasts and hosting them. Some also help you with the management and promotion of your podcast.
The Ultimate Podcast Collection
The Ultimate Podcast Collection contains a user-submitted database that divides the podcast subjects into channels, making it easy to find what you want to listen to.
Podcasts.com provides feature-rich podcast hosting for free and allows you to manage your podcast episodes using their easy-to-use backend and setup premium subscriptions. Your podcast also gets featured in their Search Engine Optimized (SEO) directory.
You can also submit your podcast’s RSS feed to be listed in their directory.
Podcast Alley is the podcast lover’s portal. It features a large Podcast Directory and the Top 10 podcasts, as voted on by the listeners. If you’re a registered Podcast Alley member, you can also add your own podcast to the site.
Podfeed.net is a podcast directory that helps you find and listen to podcasts, read and write podcast reviews, and share your podcast with others. Add your favorite podcasts to a single feed that you can automatically download using podcasting software (see the end of the article for a list of software programs).
Digital Podcast is podcast directory that can also help you with creating and producing your podcast, managing the marketing, operational, and technical aspects of your podcast, and promoting your podcast in podcast directories, search engines, and social media sites. They also help you improve the service delivery of your podcast and manage your costs.
GPodder is a podcast directory and a software program that allows you to manage your podcast clients via the web, subscribe to new podcasts, and even synchronize gPodder on your computer and on your mobile phone, so you can listen anywhere. They also have a list of the 100 most subscribed image, audio, and video podcasts.
LearnOutLoud.com Podcast Directory
LearnOutLoud.com provides a directory of educational podcasts that will instruct, inspire, and enlighten you. Easily subscribe to the podcasts through Apple iTunes and RSS feeds and choose to download the podcasts or stream them from the site.
TruMix provides access to podcasts and Internet Radio from around the world. Download the podcasts or stream them from the website. Choose from packaged selections of podcasts and music. Create your own account to keep track of your favorite podcasts and radio stations.
MusicGoal is a site that provides access to over 21,000 podcasts, as well as live online radio stations, webcams, and online games.
Podcasts can provide your daily news rather than having to visit specific news sites to find out what’s going on in the world. The following sites provide news, financial, and sports information from some of the biggest networks.
Educational and Informational Podcasts
Podcasts are useful tools for learning. The following websites provide podcasts that educate and inform.
PBS podcasts, such as the American Experience Podcast, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and the NOVA Podcast, are available on LearnOutLoud.com (mentioned earlier). In the near future, LearnOutLoud.com will be providing a data feed of all featured PBS videos.
This American Life
This American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 1.8 million listeners. There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. Most of the time, it’s mostly true stories of everyday people. You can also listen to old radio shows from their archive.
Scientific American: Free Science Podcasts
Scientific American offers free podcasts about different scientific topics, such as the weekly Science Talk and 60-Second Tech and the daily 60-Second Science and 60-Second Space. Subscribe to the podcasts as RSS feeds or through iTunes.
This Week in Technology (TWiT)
This Week in Technology (TWiT) is a network of podcasts that cover aspects of technology as well as a few other subjects, such as junk food. It started out with a small cable network called ZDTV, which covered computers, the Internet, and personal technology. Many of the same people who worked on ZDTV now work on TWiT. One popular podcast is Security Now (recorded live every Wednesday at 11:00am PT/2:00pm ET), in which Leo Laporte of TWiT discusses hot topics in security today with Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation, creator of Spinrite, Password Haystacks, and ShieldsUP.
National Radio Podcasts
The following four major English-language public radio stations offer their content online. All the programs on these sites are downloadable outside of their native countries.
- National Public Radio
- Canadian Broadcasting Company
- British Broadcasting Company
- Australian Broadcasting Company
U.S. Government Podcast Directory
The U.S. Government Podcast Directory provides access to podcasts from many different sections of the government, such as Science and Technology, History, Arts, and Culture, Business and Economics, and Public Safety and Law.
White House Podcasts
White House Podcasts provide access to White House Press Briefings, the Weekly Address, Speeches and Events, Music & the Arts, and Open for Questions, which is a series of live chats with White House officials and the general public covering a wide scope of topics.
The following are websites providing podcasts from major universities. Some are podcasts of courses and some are about various other topics.
Free Educational Podcasts from Universities
Open Culture provides a collection of educational podcasts created by leading universities. These are not class lectures, but rather information covering various topics such as science and law, and some cover internal issues within the universities.
UCLA Course Webcasting
UCLA Course Webcasting (or BruinCast) is provided by the Office of Instructional Development. Some course lectures are made available to the public online as audio podcasts, but some have restricted access.
University of Oxford Podcasts
The University of Oxford Podcasts site features podcasts about topics such as public lectures, teaching material, interviews with leading academics, and even information about applying to the University. The material may be in audio, video, or document format and is arranged within a series of related talks or lectures. A full list of all the series is available.
Content is regularly added to the site and all content is free to download and watch, listen to, or read.
Once you’ve listened to some educational podcasts or gotten your daily dose of news and information, you’re probably ready for a break from serious content. Well, you can entertain yourself with the following popular comedy podcasts:
- British Comedy Podcasts
- The Smartest Man in the World Proopcast with Greg Proops
- The Nerdist with Chris Hardwick
- Uhh Yeah Dude with Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette
- WTF with Marc Maron
- Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap
- The Ricky Gervais Podcast
- The Pod F. Tompkast with Paul F. Tompkins
There are many more comedic podcasts available on the web you might like, depending on your taste in humor.
Podcasting Guides and Tools
Podcasting guides and tools are available online for those of you who want to create and produce your own podcasts. There’s “producer” software that helps you create and edit podcasts and deliver podcasts to end users and “catcher” software that allows you to receive the podcasts and RSS feeds and listen to them.
The following sites provide guides and tools to help you create, host, manage, and promote your own podcasts.
iPodder is a resource for discovering and enjoying podcasts, or downloadable audio programs. The website includes tutorials, how-to articles, and other information designed to help you make the most of your podcast experience and your portable music device and how to create and publish your own podcasts. They also provide a list of podcast tools and softwareyou can use when creating your own podcasts.
PoducateMe Podcasting Guide
The PoducateMe Podcasting Guide is meant for those creating podcasts for education, but the information in the guide is useful for anyone looking into starting their own podcast. Topics cover the entire process from selecting a microphone to getting a finished podcast onto iTunes.
Podcast 411 contains information to teach you practically anything you want to know about podcasting. They also produce their own podcast with interviews of popular podcasters.
How to Podcast
The How to Podcast site contains a free, thorough, step-by-step tutorial on how to podcast for minimal cost. It’ll help you take your podcast from concept to launch.
The Podcasting Tools site provides a comprehensive set of resources, including tools and how-to articles, that help you create podcasts, with an emphasis on distribution. There is a wealth of information detailing everything you need to know about podcasting.
Some of the podcasting guides and tools sites mentioned above contain information about podcasting software. However, here are some additional links to software for creating and editing podcasts (producers), posting podcasts, and receiving podcasts (catchers).
- Use iTunes (Windows, Mac) to encode podcasts into MP3 format and to subscribe, download, and play podcasts.
- Use Windows Media Player (Windows, Mac) to download and play podcasts.
- Use Audacity (Windows, Linux, Mac) to record and edit sound.
- Use the LAME (compiles on Windows, Linux, and Mac) codec to encode MP3 files.
- Use FileZilla (Windows, Linux, Mac) as FTP client to upload your podcast. FileZilla is also available in a portable version.
- Use Juice (Windows, Linux, Mac) as a podcast receiver, to capture and play podcasts. Juice is also available in a portable version.
- Use gPodder (Windows, Linux) as a podcast receiver to download and manage your podcast subscriptions. gPodder is also available in a portable version.
- Use Pull (Windows) as a free, portable podcast receiver to automatically download podcasts and vidcasts (videos). Pull is not meant to be a media player or catalog.
The People’s Choice Podcast Awards
The People’s Choice Podcast Awards is the most important award in the world of podcasting, featuring the best by subject and production quality. The front page includes links to all of the current nominees.
How-To Geek has also published a guide to creating and running your own audio podcast. If you subscribe to podcasts in iTunes and you have an Android phone, you can learn how to sync iTunes to your Android phone so you can listen to your podcasts on the go.
Whether you just want to subscribe and listen to podcasts or create your own, this list should help you fully enjoy the world of podcasting.
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 06/23/12