What is a Podcast and how Does it Work?

We can hardly imagine a world where technology and the internet are not part of our daily lives. We use the internet for many different reasons, from speaking to friends, using it as a source of entertainment, to learning new skills. Listening to podcasts is one way the internet is used. Podcasts have become more and more popular over the years.

What is a podcast, and how does it work? A podcast is an audio file in which one or multiple people speak. This file can be downloaded and listened to by other people worldwide. Often a podcast host shares stories, reports the news, or has a conversation with other people about a certain topic or theme.

Even though the digital world is rapidly growing, and new platforms are thrown at us daily, podcasts have kept their popularity over the years. The ease of looking up a topic that you would like to hear or learn more about, downloading a file, and simply listening has made many people happy.

In this article, we dive deeper into what a podcast is, the basics, and the “behind the scenes” on developing one. So please keep reading!

Table of Contents

What is a Podcast, Exactly?

So what is a podcast, exactly? As we mentioned above, a podcast is a spoken audio file that can be listened to once it is downloaded using the internet.

Often podcast hosts choose a niche that they are interested in and talk about the specific topic or theme. This way, they can attract listeners interested in the same thing. This does not mean that the topics are always very serious. There are lots of podcasts out there that are full of humor as well.

There are different ways to share information. This can be done in writing, through video, or audio. The only way to share information by audio was through conversation back in the day. However, with the technology nowadays, we can record files and post them on different platforms on the internet. Think of platforms like Spotify or ApplePodcast.

How to Record and Start a Podcast?

recording a podcast

Before you can start recording a podcast, there are a few questions you should ask yourself and to which you have answers. These questions will help your recording, especially if you do it for the first time.

– What is my concept?

Think of things like the topic, your goal, a name, etc.

– What format am I going to use?

Think of things like an interview, news recap, educational podcast, length, etc.

– What am I going to be recording with?

This is where things become a bit more technical. But don’t worry. The equipment that you are going to use doesn’t have to be expensive or super professional. To be able to record a podcast, though, you will need at least the following things.

A microphone

small-diaphragm microphone

The higher the quality, the less background noise you will have on your audio. This will help the editing at the end.

A cable so you can connect the microphone to your computer

When you are recording, you want whatever you are saying to be saved onto your computer. Apart from a connection between your microphone and your computer, you will also need a software program on your computer. 

Software Program

You will need a software where you can save your audio message. Some people have even used Discord to record a podcast. The audio will be made into a file in this program. There are many different programs online that you can choose from. A few examples are Zoom and SquadCast.

Digital Audio Workstation DAW software

Once you have recorded the file, you can start editing. This is also done with a software program. Some programs have this built-in. For others, you will need a separate software program to do this. A few examples of an editing program are Audacity and Hindenburg Pro.

A benefit of the podcast software programs is that they are often easy to use, and editing can be done quickly. Often you can find these software programs for free.

So, in the end, when you want to record a podcast, you will need a few tools and software programs installed onto your computer to help you out.

What is the Purpose of a Podcast?

There are different reasons why podcast hosts make podcasts. The main goal of any podcast is to entertain its audience. Entertainment, in this case, can also be hearing updates, learning about new topics, or hearing a different perspective on a particular matter, for example.

Because there are different podcasts and different kinds of listeners, each podcast is different, fulfilling its own needs and reaching its purpose.

As mentioned above, all podcasts are different. This is not only due to a different topic or theme but especially due to the way a host interprets the matter. Apart from that, they also choose how they want to deliver the topic. This can be done via

  • Conversation
  • Narrative nonfiction
  • Scripted fiction
  • Repurposed content
  • A mixture of the above.

What is an example of a Podcast?

black iphone 4 on brown wooden table

As mentioned before, a podcast is an sound file that gets distributed over the internet. Its purpose is to let people listen to it on their devices. The device can be an iPod, laptop for podcasting, or a phone, for example. 
To give you an idea, I will mention a few examples of popular podcasts below:

Stuff you should know

This is a podcast that gets hosted by a few people. They talk about many different kinds of topics. The idea behind the podcast is to give people an insight into whatever interests them. The topics vary from politics to food, to theories, and much more.

The Daily

This is more of a radio-styled podcast. Different public radio stations talk about the news.


RadioLab is a podcast hosted by two main speakers. It is a radio show that combines stories and science into unique and creative documentaries. 

Are Podcasts Free?

Most people that listen to music know the struggle of paid apps to be able to listen to whatever song they want. This is one reason why many people think that listening to a podcast costs money. Luckily this is not true. Most podcasts are free!

It is easy to start listening to podcasts. You only need a device that allows you to play audio (like your mobile phone) and the internet.

You can find multiple podcasts online when searching on your google search engine. Another option is to download apps that host different podcasts. Examples are Spotify, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, and Google Podcasts.

There is no reason for you not to start listening to podcasts. You can choose the theme and the specific show, and you don’t have to pay for them either. This is also why podcasts have kept their status and remain popular worldwide.

If there is a theme you are interested in but cannot find a podcast about it, then maybe you can start your own podcast?

What is the Difference Between YouTube and a Podcast?

Youtube vs Podcasting

Anyone that has the internet and uses it on a daily bases knows YouTube. Youtube is a platform that consists of many, many different kinds of videos.

These videos are all made by different people, also known as “YouTubers.” There is a difference between YouTube and a podcast, though we will explain further below.

The main difference between YouTube and a podcast is that YouTube is powered by videos and a Podcast by audio.



YouTube is a sharing social media platform. Suppose you want to share or watch videos of any genre. The videos can go viral, making them attractive to the many people who use YouTube as a source of entertainment or as a learning platform. 

Once the video is uploaded, you can watch it directly on the YouTube website. After watching the video, you can like, share, or comment on the same page. To do that, you do have to sign up, though.

Podcast versus Youtube

Now that you have more of an idea of what a podcast and YouTube are, it is easier to explain the differences between the two.

Audio versus Video

As you can probably imagine, one of the main differences is that a Podcast is a computer file. This means that you listen to what is being said versus watching a video. The platform YouTube, on the other hand, is a video-sharing space.

Recording versus a dominant social media platform

A podcast does not belong to a website specifically. You can place the podcast where ever you want on the internet. This can be via an existing platform, an app, or even your own website.

Youtube, as a platform, is the world’s biggest video-sharing website and is a dominating social media platform.

To place a video on YouTube, you will need to become a member of the platform. 

Podcasts are easier to develop

Another difference is that audio is much easier to develop than videos. It requires less editing, for example. Therefore, more people are drawn toward making an audio recording over making a video to be able to post it on YouTube.

No fancy tools needed

As mentioned before, if you want to make a podcast, you don’t need fancy tools. A microphone, headphones, a computer, and software should do the trick. If you compare this to wanting to make something that you can put on YouTube, podcasts are way easier.

You may want to go a step further and prepare your studio acoustically so that you eliminate unwanted sounds.

To make a video, you will need fancy equipment. Otherwise, it will become challenging to film whatever it is that you want to put on the video. Even editing will not always save you when you don’t have the right equipment.

Less equipment

Another difference is the amount of equipment. As mentioned above, for a podcast, you will need a microphone, a computer, and a software program.

For making a video on YouTube, you will need at least a good camera, lighting, microphone, editing programs, a computer with lots of storage space, etc.

What is the Difference Between Podcast and Radio?

Another question that gets asked a lot is: what is the difference between a podcast and a radio? This is a good question that I will try to give an easy-to-understand answer to below.

radio mixing board vs podcast

A podcast is sometimes seen as a modern radio station. The radio was created for people to listen to broadcasting programs that anyone can listen to and is shared using radio waves.

To make a podcast, you don’t need to use radio waves. Instead, it is a file distributed via the internet, and downloading availabilities

Podcasts often focus on a specific topic or theme. The podcast host regularly makes not one episode but creates a series. This way, they can keep the audience interested.

Even though radio is often more than one broadcast as well, it is not the same as a podcast. The radio broadcast can differ from playing music to daily news and much more all in one broadcast.

Often a radio station plays 24/7 and is done live. A podcast often lasts anywhere between thirty minutes to three hours and gets recorded instead of playing live.

Even though the podcasts are often recorded, there are some popular podcasts that share their content immediately, where you can listen to it live as well. After listening to it live, you still have the option to download it later on if you want

If you download a podcast, you can listen to it offline. To be able to listen to the radio, you will need to be able to receive the radio waves with a device that is able to do so. Often this is a radio or an internet website (that requires an internet signal).

What are the Benefits of a Podcast?

There are many benefits to listening to a podcast.

Small files

An audio file is much smaller than a video file, for example. Therefore, it is much easier to download and store on your device. A one-hour audio file is approximately 25MB. If you make a one-hour video, you will need at least space for a 700MB file.

Listening without watching

Another perk that most people like about podcasts is that you only need to listen. For any other way of transporting information, you will need your eyes as well. Think about writing and videos, for example. 

This means that you can really listen to it anywhere at any time. While driving, while biking around the city, while sitting in your favorite park, etc.

All you need to do is to make sure that the downloaded file is properly stored on your listening device so that you don’t need the internet to listen to it where ever you are.

Alternative to music

Ever get bored of your music playlist? Does the radio station keep playing the same genre or has a playlist on repeat? Then, in this case, listening to a podcast is exactly what you have been looking for. There are many different podcasts, styles, topics, and themes out there. It ensures a great variety of the standard music playlist that you are listening to.

Learning new things

Listening to a podcast is a fun and easy way to learn new things that can come in handy. Most podcast hosts say something about a certain topic or theme that interests them. Therefore, they do research beforehand and try to tell you something that makes sense and leaves you wanting more after listening to it.

Avoiding mainstream media

As we live in a fast-growing digital time, there are many social media platforms out there. These are often used to get our information and can be very biased. When you choose to listen to a podcast, you are not necessarily listening to the mainstream. Some hosts and experts make a podcast to get you thinking about how else you can look at a certain topic—talking about it from a completely different viewpoint. This can be very interesting, giving you a new perspective on certain topics. Of course, it is not smart to take everything they say as truth. There are a lot of amateur hosts.

What are the Disadvantages of Listening to a Podcast?

woman in black long sleeve shirt covering her face with her hands listening to podcast

Where ever there are benefits, there are also some disadvantages. Luckily when listening to a podcast, there are not many.


For some people, it is difficult to access a podcast. This is often because people don’t know where to search for them or do not have the internet on their device to download the file. The accessibility has gone up, though, in the last years, as many places worldwide now share wifi that anyone can use.

Finding a podcast you enjoy

As there are many podcasts out there, some people have trouble finding the one they like. They choose one, listen to it, don’t like it, and stop listening to podcasts altogether which is a shame because the market is so diverse. So we recommend not giving up the hunt to find a podcast show you enjoy. 

IP and content protection can be difficult

Unlike most videos, it can be difficult to protect your content and IP. Think of plagiarism. Some people might steal your content and deliver it as if it is theirs. This happens to everything you post on the internet, though. If it happens, that is a big shame, but its chances are not very big.

The Behind the Scenes of Making a Podcast

black and silver headphones on black and silver microphone

As promised in the first part of this article, we will now dive a bit deeper into the behind-the-scenes of making a podcast, and in this case, we mean the technical aspects required to start a podcast. Like how to host a server? And How to distribute a podcast?

How to Host a Podcast on Servers?

There are two main ways to host a podcast on a server. These are making your own server or placing it on one of the existing servers.

Make your own podcast hosting server

This is the harder one of the two options. If you want to start a podcast and host your own podcast, you must make your own website. Your website will need a table of contents, a valid RSS feed (A file with all the details about your audio), and a way to add media to your website.

And lastly, you will want people to be able to find you on other podcast platforms.

Therefore you will also need to add the RSS feed to the different podcasting platforms out there. To be able to create your own website requires some knowledge and skills.

Placing your audio file on an existing server

There are many platforms out there that host many different podcasts. You will need to choose at least one server to which you want to add your audio file. The much more accessible option is placing the audio file on an existing server.

Then you will need to sign up, make an account, add the audio file, and be ready for listeners to listen to what you are saying.

Be aware that there are many servers out there. Some are free, and others require a monthly or yearly fee. You need to pay to host your files if you want extra features.

The more popular the podcast server is, the more reach it has. This means that more listeners look onto that website to find a new exciting podcast to which they can listen. This does not automatically mean that you will get more listeners downloading your audio file.

The competition on these websites is also much higher. In this case, an option would be to place your podcast on different web servers.

How does a Person Listen to a Podcast?

woman in black crew neck shirt wearing black headphones

There are various ways to listen to a podcast. This often comes down to your own preference.

Downloading server

First off, for you to be able to listen to a podcast, you will need to download a file. The easiest way to do this is by searching for a podcast via a popular server. You can search by theme or look up the podcast host directly.

Once you have chosen a podcast that you would like to listen to, the next step is to download the file onto a device.


Any device that lets you download an audio file and listen to it is suited as a way to listen to a podcast. Think of devices like your mobile phone, computer, tablets, etc.

Time and place

Once the file is downloaded onto your device, you can listen to it where ever you want, whenever you want. Studies have shown that most people listen to podcasts while driving in the car or when taking public transport. In the end, it is up to you and whatever suits you best.

Easy does it!

How do you Distribute a Podcast?

computer wires - what is a podcast

Once you have made your podcast, you will want to distribute it. Your goal is most likely that the audio files are easy to find so that lots of people will download it and listen to it. This is often the most tricky part though

The easiest way to distribute your podcast is by putting it on a popular website that hosts podcasts. There are a few very popular servers. Amongst them are Apple iTunes, WHOOSKA, Soundcloud, and Libsyn.

Create an RSS feed

As mentioned before, after you start a podcast it is necessary to create an RSS feed when you distribute your podcast. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. The RSS contains a summary and all details of the audio file that you publish on a website or podcast server.

This way, people can quickly see what the podcast is about and who made it. The RSS also shows the audience searching for a podcast, which is the latest episode hosted by a podcast host on a website.

Some Final Thoughts About Podcasts?

After reading this article, I hope it has become clearer what a podcast is precisely and how it works. Apart from that, we have explained in the above article why people listen to a podcast, how you can create your own, and how you can become visible to your audience.

There are many benefits to making and listening to a podcast. We hope this has inspired you to listen to a podcast of your interest or maybe even to start making your own podcast. We would really like to hear what you have learned from one of the podcasts or what podcast you have made yourself!

Juan Louder
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Juan Louder

I started SoundStudioMagic to learn how to record my own audiobook at home, and now I'm addicted to all the latest techniques and gear.

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