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Podcasting: time for a recap.

by Dave Riley

The podcasting projects that make Ratbag Radio the talk thing that it is, have settled into sustainable mode with a few hundred listeners partaking of our audio wares.If you don't know how it works, maybe it is time for a recap.

There are 4 audio channels that you can listen to as preference dictates, download or subscribe.
  1. LeftCast: a news and commentary podcast.
  2. LatinRadical: podcast & radio show focusing on Latin American politics
  3. The Blather: political satire
  4. LeftClick: audio aggregator (and blog)
LeftClick is like a radio station with various programs as we share the audio from the other three channels here as well as audio material selected from elsewhere. That's aggregated into the one audio feed which you can either subscribe or listen to.

Listening is easy:
  • download the original audio file to your desktop, or
  • use one of our flash players embedded with each audio segment when we publish it, or
  • listen to the most recent programs by using the Multimedia Resources & Audio Channels service available above this post, or
  • subscribe to the audio feed in your preferred feed aggregator (such as Google Reader which offers embedded audio players, Firefox live bookmarks, etc)) or
  • subscribe by using a podcatcher -- an audio aggregator that subscribes to and downloads podcasts.
There are a few podcatchers to choose from (most of which are free)and among these iTunes is probably the best known. (It is also the most commercial and most demanding of your computer's hard drive). The most respected and the first to be developed is the open source Juice (Yes, even before iPod married iTunes.)

If you listen to your audio with a mp3 player -- iPod, iRiver, Creativ, etc -- you don't need any special software to send or drag your downloaded audio files from your computer to these devices plugged into your usb port. Most players will connect to your computer without much protest on your computer's part.

You may prefer to arrange your audio into folders and playlists and that's where the software that usually comes with these players is very useful. However a podcatcher will do that too.

I find it preferable not to automatically download all media so I always manually decide what episodes of each podcast I want to download. That's why I like to use a podcatcher as I can peruse the contents of each podcast to see if I want to download and listen to it.

Since I listen to my podcasts 95% of the time while commuting or walking about with my mp3 player stuck in my ear I prefer to use PodcastReady which is a podcatcher program that works from inside your mp3 player. With it I can plug into any computer and download my podcast supplies directly from the web to my mp3 player.

So if you haven't tried to listen to podcasts as subscription you can play in your mp3 player -- now is the time to start. Mp3 players are so cheap now( some less than $AUD20) -- and they will double as a thumb drive so you can port other files between computers.

The smallest/cheapest mp3 player today is probably 250mb and a single podcast episode would only be 8-20mb. You don't need a player with a lot of capacity as you want to listen to podcast episodes, delete them and load up some more.

So if you want to get all of the wares on offer from this particular network of media -- consider these as your options.

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