Podcasting is a new method for publishing audio files on the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed in order to receive new files automatically. Instead of reading the content on a computer screen, Podcasting enables users to listen to it on any portable audio device (i.e. an iPod or another type of MP3 player). This new service is becoming popular because among many other things, it enables individuals to easily transmit audio content worldwide, eliminating the difficulties associated with obtaining and maintaining a broadcast license. This technique has allowed many novice and veteran producers alike to create self-published, syndicated radio shows.

Podcasting uses the RSS protocol to automatically send updated audio files to subscribed users. RSS is currently one of the hottest technologies on the Internet. Companies such as Google, Yahoo and MSN have embraced this technology to bring relevant content to subscribers. An RSS feed is a way for Internet users to receive content (audio and/or text) directly on their desktop. Users simply subscribe to an RSS feed and the content is immediately delivered to them.

If users choose your RSS feed, you establish a direct line of ongoing communication to them – clearly, RSS is a very powerful marketing tool. But what is even more powerful than this is that by publishing an RSS feed for your business, users can find your Web site in various RSS directories. This allows people to find your business when they might never have been able to locate it in the vast sea of millions of Web sites.

For usage in conjunction with Mac’s, there is “iPodderX”, which is a newsreader that processes RSS 2.0 feeds with enclosures. It takes those enclosures and automatically downloads them in the background. If the file is an audio file, it then moves it to iTunes, and enables it to be downloaded to your iPod. As a result, anyone using iPodderX is constantly fed fresh content to listen to. iPodderX downloads any type of file, so you can wake up in the morning with a fresh set of audio shows, video programs, or whatever else you have subscribed to.

PC users can use iPodder.NET, which is a media aggregator that automatically downloads content to your machine. All you have to do is subscribe to RSS feeds, and your computer handles the rest for you. It integrates automatically with iTunes, creating play lists and synchronizing with your attached iPod or compatible device.

Podcasting is starting to get official recognition. Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. has announced the launch of its first podcasting show for May 13, 2005. Sirius subscribers, who already pay $12.95 a month, will have free access to the show. Viacom also announced that its Infinity Broadcasting division will turn a struggling radio station in San Francisco into an all-podcast format. NBC 5 in Chicago has also announced that it has begun podcasting its content. They boast that they are the “first major market TV station in the country to offer daily podcasts.” Other major companies that have announced the use and distribution of podcasts include the Denver Post, Disney, and Free Internet Radio.

Many technical experts believe that in the future, radio shows like “All Things Considered” and “Rush Limbaugh” will be available in this manner, and perhaps other syndication formats will support enclosures. Doc Searls, the senior editor for “Linux Journal”, may have said it best: “Podcasting will shift much of our time away from an old medium where we wait for what we might want to hear to a new medium where we choose what we want to hear, when we want to hear it, and how we want to give everybody else the option to listen to it as well.”