​What Are Podcasts, And Why You Should Use Them

Podcast - a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. ~ Google dictionary

In 2014, Edison Research discovered that 39 million people in America were in the habit of listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. Most of them enjoyed an average of 6 po'dcasts a week. That was 5 years ago. In 2017, 67 million people in the US listened to podcasts on a regular basis; today the popularity of the podcast is even greater and for good reasons. Incidentally, a podcast is a series of podcast episodes centred on a particular theme or topic.

The earliest podcasts were recordings of radio talk shows, featuring a talk show host and various guests. Enterprising radio stations like the BBC started recording their most popular talk shows and making them available online as free downloadable audio files. The concept took off, in a huge way, and today there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts available on pretty much every conceivable topic. From mining to cooking, relationship advice, church sermons, self-improvement, locker room reports, comedy and more.

Whilst they may have started out as an entertainment medium, podcasts today are an extremely functional way of providing, and obtaining, training, education and information. Millions of people globally download podcasts to learn more about certain topics, for personal growth, and simply for their entertainment value. In fact, podcasts have grown to become one of the most popular tools for these purposes.

Accessing podcasts

Whilst any device with Internet access, and enough available data! can access podcasts, they're designed with the mobile user in mind. In fact, the name is quintessentially 'mobile' associated because the 'Pod' in 'podcast' comes from Apple's well know iPod, that nifty little device designed to download your favourite tunes from the Internet so you can multi task ie listen to music whilst on the go without the inconvenience of constant interruptions that come with listening to the radio. 'Cast' of course is a derivative of 'broadcast'. Put the two together and you have a broadcast type medium designed for mobile applications like iPods! Of course, if you don't have an iPod or a mobile phone capable of playing podcasts, you can still listen to them on any Internet connected device.

Accessing podcasts is relatively easy, even for the most non-computer, non-technical amongst us. If you're on a computer, fire up your web browser, head to the site where the podcasts are, click on the podcast you want to listen to, and you're away. Of course it helps if you have the computer's speakers attached (external) or turned on/up (internal)!

If you're using a mobile device, and who isn't these days, there are numerous ways to access podcasts. Apple have made it super easy with apps for just about everything, including accessing podcasts. If you don't have an iPod Touch or smartphone with a Podcast app built in, you can still access podcasts through iTunes – visit the podcast tab in the iTunes store, find the podcast you want, download and then upload to your audio player. For Android fans there are also many ways to find the podcasts you want to listen to.

8 Great Reasons For Listening To Podcasts

Podcasts are usually free

Everyone loves free. In fact, you really can't beat free, of anything. Boundless free opportunities to improve yourself, expand your knowledge, obtain new skills, expand current ones …. Research also suggests that listening to podcasts can improve several cognitive skills, notably your listening skills, your focus, and also fire up your imagination. All for FREE!

Podcasts can be accessed at any time

Podcasts episodes are pre-recorded, can be downloaded at any time, and then listened to any time it's convenient. That's their great advantage, along with the fact that they're audio so you can be doing other things whilst listening to them. It's a great way to improve your multi-tasking skills!

Podcasts can turn unproductive time into productive time

Whilst we definitely don't recommend listening to them whilst operating excavators, driving dump trucks, or working with any type of mining equipment, there are nonetheless many activities that don't require your full, undivided attention. If you spend a lot of time sitting in traffic jams on your way to and from work, or on public transport then listening to your favourite educational podcasts is an excellent way to while away the time. You could for example be learning how to make enough money doing something you enjoy doing so you don't have to sit in traffic jams or use public transport! When the traffic starts moving again though it's probably safer to switch the podcast off and tune into your driving instead! 

Podcasts can turn boring tasks into an opportunity to learn and improve yourself

Great opportunities for listening to podcasts present themselves every day – doing the housework, exercising, walking the dog, washing the dishes, hanging out the washing and so on. In fact, those people out jogging and plugged in to a set of ear plugs – chances are they're not simply listening to music like you've always assumed but to an informative educational podcast!

Podcasts are an excellent alternative to reading

If you're one of the many people who have some type of reading disability or if you simply don't like reading, that doesn't have to hold you back from learning new stuff anymore. Not with podcasts available about every topic imaginable. The other advantage here is that there are certain times when reading is not possible but listening certainly is. We've outlined a few of them above.

Podcasts are eminently suited for online searches

Try finding a book you want to read in your local library or bookstore. It will invariably involve scanning shelves of books to find it. That's after you've driven there. Try finding a podcast you want to listen to and it's as simple as typing the keywords into the search function and voila. Scroll down quickly, find the one you want, read the creator's description, download, and listen. Or save to listen to later. One other thing you'll often find is that the podcast descriptions tend to be accurate as the people creating them are doing so because they're passionate about their subject matter, and about sharing that with an audience. Because they're also usually free, there's not a huge monetary incentive to stuff the description full of click bait material and misinformation in order to get a 'sale'.

Podcasts improve the way you listen

We mentioned this one earlier and it's true. How? When you're listening to someone talking about something they love, and there aren't visual distractions, you actually focus on what the person is saying. Good podcast producers can do this in a way that makes it sound like they're talking directly to you, or for your benefit in the case of interviews. It's this sense of personal connection that makes it easier to listen to what they're saying. Do enough of it and eventually you'll notice that you're listening better generally. And as for proof that this personal connection really works to draw listeners in? Well Edison research has found that a whopping 85% of listeners listen to the entire podcast, adverts and all.

Podcasts can help you considerably improve your skills and knowledge

Podcasts are great entertainment but they're also an excellent learning tool. This is due to that personal connection and engagement we mentioned, the fact that they're free, can be accessed and listened to at any time including times when you're doing other things and so on. Therefore, if there is a particular skill you want to develop or you would like to indulge in some self-improvement, for many people podcasts are an ideal way to do this. By listening to podcasts that are targeted at certain areas of expertise, and which provide a ton of information, much of it based on the presenter's personal experience and thus making it that much more valuable, it's possible to vastly expand ones horizons in a way that can impact on real-world situations. This is because through listening, the brain picks up information and almost subconsciously begins to apply it to the real world. 

Take the Dig Deep Mining podcasts for example. These podcasts present experts talking about aspects of the industry they're passionate and highly knowledgeable about. Tune in and follow the series and you can't help but develop a greater understanding of the mining industry in general. And it's not just a generic 'greater understanding' looking on from the outside either, which we can all get simply by reading content online. By listening to these experts discussing their own experiences, you'll find you develop a greater understanding of the industry from where they're sitting inside the industry. You'll also pick up tips and advice that may help you improve the way you tackle your next ore reserve calculation, look for your next mining job, develop an appreciation for the fine art of financing mining ventures, develop better networking skills and plenty more.  Have you listened to any of the Dig Deep mining podcasts yet?
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