An introduction to podcasts

Whether you’re planning a road trip and don’t want to rely on music for the entire drive, or you’re looking for a new way to soak up interesting content for free, podcasts are a fantastic option!

What exactly is a podcast?

In a nutshell, a podcast is an episode of a program that you’re able to listen to on the internet. Most of the time a podcast is an original audio recording from the podcast publisher, but it could also be a recording of a radio or TV program, a performance or event, or even a lecture.

The themes and topics for podcasts are wide and far-reaching, so no matter your sensibilities you can pretty much guarantee there will be something that will pique your interest. From comedy to crime, fashion to current affairs, your soon-to-be favourite podcast is there ready to be listened to.

Getting started

If you’re an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch user, the easiest way to start is to download the Podcasts app and start exploring the most popular and featured podcasts within the app. Here, you can subscribe to a podcast by tapping Subscribe on the page for the podcast.

If you’re ready to play the podcast, simply tap on the episode you want to listen to. If you’d prefer to download the episode so you can listen to it later, tap the iCloud icon in the episode list. Although podcasts are pretty small files, if you haven’t got much monthly mobile data, make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi when you decide to download. Under My Podcasts, you’ll be able to manage your subscriptions and play any episode you like.

For those who’d prefer to listen on your computer, whether it’s a Mac or PC, you can use your iTunes Store to find and subscribe to new podcasts. Here, you can subscribe to podcasts and iTunes will automatically check each day for a new episode.

Personalise your experience

Once you’re ready to listen to a podcast through iTunes, there are plenty of extra options to help make the experience the best it can be for you. If you want the audio to play at a faster or slower rate, you can use the speed indicator on the bottom-left corner to adjust the playback speed. You can also create your own station and playlists in iTunes, and share your favourite podcasts on Facebook, Twitter and email with your friends and family.

You’re not just limited to what’s on iTunes. If you find a podcast on the internet that doesn’t come up in the iTunes Store, you can still subscribe to it through the Podcasts app by pasting the podcast feed URL into the search field.

Suggestions and recommendations

There are plenty of podcasts out there, so we thought we’d make a few recommendations to get you started.

Radio Diaries: ‘Selma Koch, Bra Saleswoman’

Radio Diaries is an American podcast that gives people recorders so they can tell the extraordinary stories of ordinary life. This podcast is one of the older Radio Diaries Portraits and spotlights Selma Koch, a 94-year-old bra saleswoman in New York.

Freakonomics Radio

From the economy and headline news to pop culture, Freakonomics Radio is inspired by the books of the same name and aims to explore “the hidden side of everything”.

Longform Podcast: Gay Talese

Longform Podcast takes you inside the process of journalism, with advice and insights from some of the best reporters and writers from today and yesteryear. The podcast with Gay Talese is a recording of a live interview between co-host Max Linsky and the 81-year-old writer.


From the creators of This American Life, Serial has become a bit of a cult favourite for regular podcast listeners, with two seasons that average 2.2 million listeners per episode – a podcast record. Season one explores the story of Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior who disappeared after school one day. Season two focuses on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was held for five years by the Taliban.

Phoebe’s Fall by The Age

A six-episode series, Phoebe’s Fall is a major investigation by The Age newsroom in Melbourne into the death of Phoebe Handsjuk, who was found at the bottom of a garbage chute in a luxury apartment building.

SBS True Stories

Commissioned and produced by multicultural broadcaster SBS, each episode of the podcast explores the intriguing circumstances of an unsolved murder case, told by award-winning Australian investigative journalist Mark Whittaker. 

Happy listening!

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