Podcast Listening 101
May 23, 2012 4:53 PM   Subscribe

In need of PODCAST 101 - How and where to get them, best podcasts for entertainment value, cheap and/or free and something I'm able to upload onto my NON-IPOD player.

I'm new to the whole downloading podcasts thing. I used to listen to them straight from NPR itself through my computer-- but with my current job, I'm not able to do such things. I need (read:preferably) free podcasts and audiobooks that I can download to put onto my crappy Sansa clip mp3 player. Is this possible?

I see a lot of "subscribing" to a podcast through iTunes but that isn't going to help me since I don't have an iPod.

So firstly, I'm endlessly fascinated with podcasts like "This American Life". I have all of the episodes from 1995 to 2008-- but no recent episodes and they seem to only be available for download at 99 cents each. That could get expensive! Is there anyway I can download TAL or something like it for free? Where?

Also I see there's a lot of "libraries" of podcasts that are able to be downloaded for a buck each. Is there anything out there like that for free? Is there a program I can use to subscribe to podcasts that will allow me to download them and put them onto my mp3 player?

Any kind of podcast-y related advice you could give me or websites you can guide me to would be super fantastic!
posted by camylanded to Technology (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also I'm at work for 8 hours. I'm aware I can download the most recent episode of TAL but that won't last me long-- I need more things to fill up my work time. Podcasts make the day go by so much quicker since it gives me stuff to think about!
posted by camylanded at 4:56 PM on May 23, 2012

There are definitely other programs that you can use to subscribe to podcasts. Some businesses will only show you the iTunes store URL link but other people have gone around trying to make the actual podcast feed URL available. You can then use a problem like Juice to subscribe to podcasts to put them on your non-ipod. Here's an old AskMe question that may help out a little more.
posted by jessamyn at 5:16 PM on May 23, 2012

I use my Blackberry for listening to podcasts downloaded through ITunes; it downloads them as MP3s, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Also, there are tons of other posts tagged as "podcasts;" some will already apply to what you're looking for. Have you looked there yet? Otherwise, can you be more specific in what your looking for than "like TAL"?

As far as TAL podcasts, I believe they only make the most recent one available for free. Sorry. Does make for appointment listening on Monday mornings!
posted by China Grover at 5:17 PM on May 23, 2012

Pretty much every podcast has an RSS Feed you can use to subscribe. If you're using, for instance, Google Reader, when a new podcast is up, it will appear in the feed, and you can right-click, "save-link-as" to your computer and then send it to your mp3 player.

Radiolab is going to be your first choice for something like TAL. That link takes you to their archive page, with tons of episodes just waiting to be downloaded. Radiolab is widely considered to be one of the best podcasts ever.

From there, it's just a question of what you want to listen to. There are tons of great comedy podcasts, which is mostly what I listen to, but you might want to look through China Grover's list of posts for ideas. Again, almost all of them will have RSS feeds through which you can subscribe and download, or you can just go to the individual podcast websites and download from there.
posted by ronofthedead at 5:20 PM on May 23, 2012

I've got a Sansa Clip, and I don't think it's crappy at all. Tiny, inexpensive and great sound. Anyways, what I use is gPodder, but there are other podcast softwares that are similar, I'm sure. It has an "Add podcast using URL" menu option (under Subscriptions). You then paste in the RSS feed address for the podcast of your choice, so http://feeds.thisamericanlife.org/talpodcast for TAL, for instance. For NPR podcasts, the page in their directory has the link listed there, right on the page. (BBC podcasts also have this on every page, over toward the right under the corporate podcast icons, iTunes, Zune etc. ) For other podcasts, there's usually an RSS link, or I just google podcast name + RSS. You also learn to recognize the RSS logo, usually in orange.

Then, to maintain my podcast library on my device, I go through the following steps:
1). Click the "check for updates" link, which goes and finds the new episodes; I can uncheck the ones I don't want to download.
2). While these are downloading, I plug in my Clip, and then delete all of the podcasts in my podcast directory. (I find it easier to nuke them all from orbit and recopy the ones I haven't gotten to yet, rather than trying to pick and choose them.)
3). I then also go into gPodder, and go through each podcast on the list, deleting all of the podcasts I've listened to or aren't interested in.
4). By this point, the new ones have downloaded, and I copy all the folders in the gPodder podcast directory over to my Clip.

VoilĂ ! My Clip has all of the podcasts I haven't listened to yet, and I'm good to go.
Unfortunately, between the Clip's operating system and the naming of podcasts, the "podcasts" view under the Music menu is often a little cluttered; the NPR podcasts appear with each episode in its' own directory, prefaced by a random 5 digit number, TAL appears under Unknown along with others, and so on. I find it easier to use the "folders" view, where (after a couple of clicks to get to the right folder) there's one directory per podcast feed, with all the episodes in there.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:49 PM on May 23, 2012

2nding the RSS-manual-download-and-file-transfer-to-my-own-crappy-Sansa-player method.

Browsing previous AskMes under the podcast tag will reveal tons of great programs.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:52 PM on May 23, 2012

For specific episodes AVClub's weekly or semi-weekly podmass articles are pretty great, although they lean towards comedy TV podcasts. There are podcasts for every desire and topic.

(Good luck finding a nice list / RSS feed of past articles though without google *grumbleyourkillingtheinternetavclubgrumble*).

Also, I like Microsoft's Zune software's podcast management better than iTunes (ugh) or gPodder but that's a personal choice. It's management is similar, and will automatically download the podcasts that you want (set it to retain however many you want, mark as listened etc). You can place the RSS feeds into Zune, or search within the Zune list and it will download the mp3's for you.
posted by stratastar at 7:01 PM on May 23, 2012

You may enjoy All The Best from FBi in Sydney Australia. FBi is a youth community (volunteer) station, just to give some background. They've done really well with the true storytelling format. The stories are not youth oriented.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 8:01 PM on May 23, 2012

I use MediaMonkey (free edition) as my music manager, and for a while I was using it to manage podcasts on my Creative Zen (I use podkicker on my Android phone for that now). There are other more dedicated podcast managers out there as well, but I haven't really used them.

As described above, you need to get the RSS feed URL for the podcast (sometimes really annoying to do because the people who manage the websites for podcasts assume _everyone_ uses iTunes and only provide an iTunes link). Once you've got that, you can add the podcast in MM, and set up schedules for downloading and what not. MM will save the episodes in a designated directory on your harddrive, and if your Sansa device is support will automagically sync for you as well.

As someone who also loves This American Life, here are some others that I think are great:

Judge John Hodgman - He's a PC and a judge.
Boing Boing's Gweek - heavy on comic book nerdery, but lots of general nerd stuff as well.
Stuff You Should Know - 30ish minutes about a different topic every episode. Most shows are sourced from articles on howstuffworks.com, so if you want to learn more about a topic you can see a supplemental writeup.

If you have enough shows in your rotation, you should be able to fill up your 8 hour days no problem -- especially if they have deep archives (I think stuff you should know has something like 400 episodes available)
posted by sparklemotion at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2012

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