One of the joys of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. One of the joys of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. One of the joys of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. (Photo: Syda Productions / Shutterstock)

Here's how to listen to a podcast

Heard about podcasts, but not exactly sure what they are? Here's what you need to know to start listening to one in under 5 minutes.

As you probably have heard by now, we here at From The Grapevine have recently launched a podcast called "Our Friend from Israel." Each week, we interview a different intriguing Israeli – it could be an actor, an athlete, an archaeologist, an academic or other newsmakers. We've even interviewed an alien hunter. (Not sure which episode to start with? Might we suggest the one about the one-handed classical pianist; once you hear him play, you'll be hooked.)

So we have this great new podcast and we tell our friends and family about it, and their eyes are glazed over. "That's great that you started a podcast ... um ... but what is a podcast and how do I actually listen to one?"

So, for our well-intentioned family members and for those of you, too, who aren't quite sure what this newfangled thing called a podcast is, we've got you covered. Below, is a quick guide that'll get you started listening to them in no time...

First, what the heck is a podcast?

Host Benyamin Cohen (left) interviews a guest for the "Our Friend from Israel" podcast. Host Benyamin Cohen (left) interviews a guest for the "Our Friend from Israel" podcast. (Photo: Courtesy)

The simplest way to describe a podcast is like an on-demand radio show. Instead of having to wait for your favorite show to come on NPR at 3 p.m. on Sundays, you can listen to it whenever you want. But it's so much more as well. Podcasts can be daily, weekly, monthly or even make up their own schedule. Some podcasts are interview shows, with a host and a guest, while others may be a roundtable discussion about politics or pop culture. Some podcasts are more highly produced – think of them as an audio documentary: they weave an entire narrative with multiple interviews, visit multiple locales, and add a soundtrack. "This American Life" is probably the most popular of that genre, producing weekly shows around a given topic since 1995. Its spinoff podcast "Serial," which followed the twisty tale of a true crime in Baltimore, made international headlines when it came out in 2013. Its episodes have since been downloaded a total of 175 million times.

The bottom line? Whatever you're interests are – sports, TV, mysteries, underwater basket weaving and just all-around intriguing conversations – there's a podcast out there for you. There's even a podcast that, each week, dissects a different episode of "The West Wing."

How can you listen to a podcast?

The new 'Wake Me App' is designed to keep sleepy drivers feeling awake and focused on the road. Listening to podcasts is easy while driving to work or running errands. (Photo: Anze Mulec/Shutterstock)

Now that you've found a few podcasts you like, how do you listen to them? You could listen to them on your computer, but that's really inefficient. You'll basically just be staring at your screen for a long while.

The nice thing about podcasts is that they're portable. You can listen to them anywhere and on-the-go: while exercising, driving in your car or just doing chores around the house. Ten minutes of dishwashing after dinner and 10 minutes of taking the dog for a walk and 10 minutes of folding laundry and – boom! – you just listened to a half-hour podcast. One of the world's most popular podcasts is "The Daily," which comes out every morning from The New York Times. Each episode is about 25 minutes, perfect for those who listen on their commute into work.

Subscribing to a podcast is free, and new episodes will be delivered to your phone automatically. So you don't have to go searching for new episodes when they come out. They'll be right there waiting for you when you open the podcast app on your smartphone.

Here's how to listen on an iPhone:

All iPhones come equipped with an app called "Podcasts." You'll see it as you scroll through your apps. It has a purple icon. Open the app and you'll see a search button on the bottom. Click on that. Type in "Our Friend from Israel" into the search bar. Our show will appear in the search results. Click on the show icon (it's also purple!). You'll see our entire archive of episodes, so you can choose an oldie-but-a-goodie to listen to. We recommend you click the "Subscribe" button so you'll have new episodes sent to your phone without you having to do anything.

Here's a video that shows you what we just explained above:

You can also use a third-party app like Overcast, which we think is a little more user-friendly than the built-in podcast app on the iPhone.

And here's how to listen on an Android phone:

Until recently, Android phones did not come with a built-in podcast app. So people would use a third-party podcast app from the Google Play store. (Don't worry, they're free and easy to use.) Popular ones include Stitcher and Podcast Addict.

This video will walk you through the steps:

Google itself has finally added their own podcast app called Google Podcasts, which you can also use.

Again, make sure to subscribe to the podcast so that you don't have to remember to look for a new episode of your favorite show each week. Once you subscribe, new episodes will automatically show up in your app.

Ok, that should do it. That's all you need to know to get started. So the next time someone recommends a good podcast for you to listen to, instead of giving them a glazed-over look, whip out your phone and subscribe on the spot. That'll impress them.

In the meantime, new episodes of our podcast "Our Friend from Israel" are delivered every Tuesday morning. Make sure to subscribe! And once you've listened to a few episodes, please feel free to leave us a rating and a review on the iTunes store. The more positive reviews we get, the more people will discover the show. Thanks, and happy listening!


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