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  1. What Is
July 7, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:40pm

What is a podcast?

Popular podcasts include Serial by Sarah Koenig.

By Ellie Burns

Available through web syndication or online streaming, a podcast is a form of digital audio file. Although best known as an audio medium, podcasts can take the form of video, digital radio, PDF or ePUB files. Usually available as a series, people can subscribe to and download new instalments or episodes to a computer or mobile device.

Coined as a portmanteau of ‘(i)Pod’ and ‘broadcast’, other names used for podcasting include ‘net cast’. It is notable that Windows claims that the portmanteau consists of ‘Portable on Demand’ and ‘broadcast’, instead of ‘(i)pod’. This may be because the latter points to the Apple iPod and Microsoft wants a vendor-neutral term.


Podcasts are thought as a converged medium, combining audio, web and mobile devices. It is also viewed as a disruptive technology, impacting the radio business.

A notable podcast was ‘Serial’, hosted by Sarah Koenig and consisting of two series and 23 episodes. New episodes were initially available every week, with Koenig narrating a nonfiction story about the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999 in Maryland, US.


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