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The podcast Serial , played on an iPhone

A podcast is a series of media files ( audio or video ) that can usually be subscribed to on the Internet . The English case word 'podcast' is composed of 'pod' ('gondola') in the name of the portable audio player iPod , on which the medium was first widely used, and the name broadcast (' broadcast ').

Around 2016, podcasts were mostly heard on smartphones. Due to the growing popularity of smartphones and the success of individual podcasts such as Serial or Soft & Careful or Fest & Fluffy , podcasts have become more popular from year to year since 2015. A single podcast consists of a series (episodes) of media contributions (e.g. recordings of radio programs, interviews, newspaper articles read automatically, music programs, etc.), which can be obtained automatically via a web feed (mostly RSS ).

Origin of the name

Coining of the word "iPod"

The word "pod." (English pod , pod ) referred to in the brand development of the iPod in 2001 to Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): It can be used as "extravehicular activity pods" ( "gondolas for the spacewalk " ) designated small spaceships from the mother ship Discovery undertake independent expeditions. The developers of the iPod referred on the one hand to Steve Jobs ' idea of Mac computers as central systems (" hub ") and other mobile devices as offshoots, and on the other hand to Kubrick's minimalist set design .

Coining of the word "Podcast"

Tristan Louis , who first proposed the concept in 2000, and Dave Winer , who was the first to implement it in a slightly modified form, are considered to be the inventors of podcasting . Former MTV presenter Adam Curry is considered a pioneer of what was initially called "audio blogging" on the producer side. British digital journalist Ben Hammersley coined the term "podcasting" in the sense of the activity of audio blogging in an article for the Guardian in 2004. The term "podcaster" in the sense of a person who produces podcasts was featured on a Yahoo mailing list in the same year used. The term "podcast" in the sense of a series of broadcasts was coined in September 2004 by the US blogger Doc Searls . The term quickly established itself, and the technology was also used more and more - with blogger Adam Curry as its biggest supporter. In 2005, Apple , whose portable digital audio player iPod was the inspiration for the name, used the name when integrating the format into the already widespread iTunes program, thereby gaining access to a mass audience.

History of the medium

Initially, the small community in the programs mainly dealt with itself, only slowly did thematic programs emerge. Music programs were quickly represented. Newspapers and magazines are also increasingly offering podcasting as part of their online offerings, with recorded programs and articles read aloud using speech synthesis .

Since summer 2005, some podcasts with erotic content have appeared, so-called porncasts. Apple then integrated a parental control into the iTunes software version 5 or higher, based on a voluntary statement by the podcaster as to whether his content is suitable for children and young people. In June 2005 the first German-language video podcast ( isightseeing ) appeared and in autumn 2005 several video podcasts were already listed under the heading Podcast on portals such as Apple's iTunes. They are usually supplied in video formats such as MPEG-4 and H.264 . They are also offered via a news feed. In February 2006 the German scene counted around 1,300 podcasts. With StreamOnTheFly, free radios can offer podcasts from their archive network.

By 2008, all major radio stations and some television stations such as Arte had established the provision of selected radio and television programs via the podcast function. The programs are made available either on the company's own website or on podcast portals either as a live stream without the option of downloading (films) or, alternatively, for immediate listening or downloading (of audio files). The contents are next to information and education programs often interview shows and either temporarily for a few days or permanently via what is known from 2008 individual movies, library (for example ZDFmediathek be provided) to the consumer via live stream (movies) or download (audio broadcast) .

The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and the Financial Times Deutschland were the first online media to make personalized podcasting possible. Tim Pritlove is regarded as a pioneer of the German podcast scene, who, in addition to self-produced podcasts, is also actively involved in software and tool development for the production of podcasts.

Content of podcast broadcasts

Most of the time, podcasts are private broadcasts, similar to radio shows, devoted to a specific topic. Professionally produced podcasts, for example for special interest news and topics, are also increasingly being offered. Podcasts that focus on providing content in a specific category are often identified with an English category abbreviation and the addition "cast" . Examples are terms such as Astronomycast, Howcast, Porncast, Sportcast or Educast. Educast , a case word from " educational podcast ", describes podcasts with the aim of imparting knowledge.

When using music in your own podcasts, you must observe copyright law . A growing trend is the use of Podsafe Music, that is royalty-free or Creative Commons -lizenzierter music.

Special terms are also often used to distinguish between technically different main sources of audio or video material in a podcast. While voipcasting or phonecasting refers to the recording of individual contributions by telephone, screencasting describes the recording of activities on a graphic display, which is usually accompanied by a speaker's voice.

In the area of ​​specialized music scenes, a podcast-like functionality is used so that the scene members are always up to date on new music from various labels and can audition it digitally. These are podcasts in the broader sense as they are music-related and there is no moderation. It just uses the same technical basis.

Events such as the annual podcast award show that it is becoming increasingly popular in all areas of the Internet.

Shipment notes

Podcasts are often published along with supplementary program notes for the current episode. In addition to a descriptive text, these so-called “show notes” usually contain images and links to the topics discussed.


Podcasts make use of already existing techniques. It makes the provision and reception of audio and video content much easier. This creates a broader base of producers and consumers (expressed in the newly created word “ prosumer ”). The individual contributions to a podcast are usually called “episodes”, although the term “podcast” is sometimes also applied to a single one of these files that are so popular. Sometimes, wrongly, only the media content linked in the news feed is called podcast.

On the Internet, anyone can create a podcast with little effort, for example a PC with a sound card, microphone, Internet connection and web space . Web space that is specially designed for the needs of a podcaster is called podspace. A hosting service that only offers podspace is called a podhosting service. There is no need for expensive hardware or software, and there are no public fees to be paid, such as when operating a web radio. Podcasters, like operators of radio stations (e.g. also web radios), must observe the rights of third parties to the media content and possibly pay fees to them or their licensors ( copyright ).

Audio formats

Podcasts are in contrast to webcasts or streaming , which do not use a locally stored media file that is also available offline. The German words Hörstück or Hördaten are rarely used . Podcasts are comparable to radio broadcasts that can be listened to regardless of the broadcast times. Books that appear exclusively as podcasts, i.e. as audio books in podcast format, are also called podiobooks .

Video formats

If it is a question of television broadcasts or other video material that is distributed in this way, one speaks of vodcast , vidcast or now mostly a video podcast . Podcasting should be viewed as a sub-area of video / audio on demand . However, the latter terms rather stand for paid and searchable services, while “broadcasters” usually offer podcasts free of charge and gradually in new episodes in an amount selected by the consumer.

Podcast reception

The podcasting client ( english podcatcher ) offers listeners the opportunity lists of web feeds of podcasts together (aggregating). This type of software is therefore also known as a feed aggregator ; However, this term is less precise than podcasting client , since it only calls up ticker messages without access to audio files (web feeds). Many podcasting clients allow regular updates and automatic download of the podcast feeds subscribed to in this way .

Scheme of an audio podcast that provides the episodes in MP3 format

Most of the aggregators automatically create a playlist in a media player that can be synchronized with portable MP3 players . The synchronization is done in such a way that the new episodes are loaded onto the device when it is connected to the computer. With most programs, you can set whether you want to download all (series) or only the current version (e.g. news).

News feeds and podcasts are often found in blogs , among other places . Portals specializing in streaming media (such as podcast.de or podster.de) also offer media content on a wide variety of topics via a play button that can be embedded in websites and weblogs for playback as streaming media, which is why a not insignificant proportion of the consumption of Podcast episodes from podcast portals takes place in the form of streaming audio . Until now, desktop computers have often been the primary access device, but more recently, access to such content via smartphones has increased .

Many podcast players allow the playback speed to be adjusted.

In contrast to a magazine subscription, there is no contractual relationship between the provider and the subscriber. This enables you to offer podcasts to a broader public.

Podcast creation

Possibilities of podcast creation in the form of a sketch note

There are several ways to create the audio files for a podcast:

On the one hand, you can record audio material live with a recording device. A computer with a sound input and microphone or headset or an MP3 or MiniDisc recorder, whose recordings can be transferred to the computer and edited there, are possible.

With the help of an audio editing program such as the free audio editor Audacity or Ardor , recordings can be made directly on the PC and individual components (speech, noises, music) can be cut together to form a contribution.

If you want to create longer pieces of spoken text as an audio file, automatic speech synthesis is an alternative to recording a human speaker. In the case of speech synthesis, the reading quality with the current state of the art is of an entirely acceptable quality (although worse than that of a human speaker, it is considerably cheaper and faster). It is recommended that you use voice synthesis to produce MP3 files for five to eight minutes. Even with good speech synthesis, most people need to get used to listening or it is exhausting.

Also MIDI files can be using a MIDI sound module is easy to convert into audio data.

The audio data is generated in MP3 format or using another audio codec , for example Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) or Vorbis , converted into files and transported to a server.

At the same time, the audio data is entered into a news feed using so-called enclosure tags , which is placed on the podcaster's website . Special programs such as Podcast Maker or GarageBand make handling easier so that it is possible to create podcasts and make them available on the Internet without a lot of technical training.

In order for the podcast to be available on the Internet, you need a website to host the feed. There are many commercial providers who provide such a CMS for feed generation and podcast management including storage space for a mostly monthly sum. Alternatively, there are also CMS systems that you can host yourself.



In a representative survey in 2019, 26 percent of German citizens said they listened to podcasts. Podcasts on news and politics are particularly popular, followed by film and television.

In April 2006, the North German Broadcasting Corporation said the number of podcast files downloaded since November 2005 was over one million.

From June 8, 2006, Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the public weekly on Saturdays via video podcast. Merkel was the first head of government worldwide to use this medium. She combines it with the intention of explaining the politics of the federal government better to the citizens .

Well-known German-language podcasts are Annik Rubens' Schlaflos in Munich, Peter Marquardt's lemotox - die Volksentdummung, Holger Schmidt's MacManiacs, Michael Koziol's Meikys Podcast, Chicks on Tour, Kilian's Podkost by Kilian Muster or Computerclub 2 as the successor to the WDR Computer Club . Other examples are from the environment of the Chaos Computer Club coming podcasts No alternative by Felix von Leitner and CCC spokesman Frank Rieger or CRE (formerly Chaos Radio Express ) from tim pritlove , who is also a whole series of podcasts - about freak show or logbook: network policy  - produced, all of which were subsumed under the term meta-level . A main representative of the video podcasts is Electric Reporter from journalist Mario Sixtus . In addition, there are many specialty podcasts that deal with topics such as adult education, geocaching, cabaret, literature, software development and many others.

Podcasts are used more and more frequently in science communication . In these podcasts scientists who report on their research have their say. For example, the resonator podcast deals with the research of the Helmholtz Association and the FONA podcast presents current research projects from the research framework program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Research for Sustainable Development (FONA). Methodologically incorrect in the podcast ! the scientists Nicolas Wöhrl and Reinhard Remfort present their own and recently published research results.

In 2013, the Soziopod was the first podcast to receive a Grimme Online Award .

Large German publishers (including heise online since 2014 , Spiegel Online and Zeit Online since 2017 ) have also launched their own podcast offers. In addition to radio stations (including Deutschlandfunk , Bayerischer Rundfunk ), institutions (including Helmholtz Association , Federal Environment Agency ), podcast labels (including Viertausendhertz, detektor.fm ), streaming providers (including Deezer , Spotify ) and individuals (including Tim Pritlove , Holger Klein ) new players in the podcast business with the publishers. In 2019, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also started with regular podcasts.


Swiss television and radio present a wide range of podcasts. The basis are mostly broadcasts (secondary exploitation). The radio broadcasts are audiocasts, television broadcasts are vodcasts. Other media, including print media and non-commercial originals, expand the Swiss offering. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung has with NZZ campus built a podcast service that complements the articles in the print editions.


The podcast landscape in Austria is primarily designed by the broadcasters. The ORF offers the widest range of services here , but in 2008 it too lagged behind international practice, according to its own statements. Occasionally, Austrian print media also offer podcasts. Podcasts are also used more and more frequently in the area of ​​continuing education. Lectures and expert discussions are popular genres in a wide variety of fields, from computer science and technology, business to art history and linguistics.

United States

A study published by Forrester Research in April 2006 (author: Charlene Li) showed that at that time only one percent of all Internet users in North America were downloading and using such files. Around 25 percent of those surveyed were fundamentally interested in podcasts. Forrester Research forecast an increase in the number of files downloaded for US households from 700,000 to 12.3 million by 2010. Adam Curry's Daily Source Code ran between 2004 and 2013 and is considered a pioneer of the podcast scene. US President Barack Obama published a weekly podcast that is comparable to that of the German Chancellor. The most successful American podcast is This American Life with approx. 750,000 downloads per episode (as of 2012). As the fastest growing podcast, its offshoot Serial set a record with five million downloads.

Use of podcasts in schools

In addition to the use of ready-made podcasts, which can also be created by teachers, the creation of podcasts by the students is particularly promising.

Use of podcasts in foreign language classes

Podcasts can be used in foreign language teaching to improve both receptive and productive skills. In addition to using ready-made podcasts, the teacher can provide a podcast with learning content for their learning group or instruct the learners in creating their own podcast.

Listening comprehension

When working with finished podcasts, listening comprehension is the main focus. All common forms of work with listening texts are possible, for example classic listening comprehension tasks with given answers, but also summaries, retelling, training in phonematic listening - in connection with a transcription of the respective contribution - or tasks in which information from a podcast is deepened through research Need to become. The authenticity , topicality and thematic diversity of the audio and video files accessible via podcasts are podcast-specific.

In addition to the actual audio and video files, many podcasts offer additional information such as summaries, further links or transcriptions that can be used for preliminary relief, thematic deepening, planning of tasks or for checking understanding. With the help of podcasts, teachers have the opportunity to tailor listening comprehension tasks thematically to their learner group, to include varieties that are important for the learner group more strongly in the lessons or to offer tasks for internal differentiation .

The distribution via the Internet and the possibility of saving podcast sequences and transferring them to mobile devices such as mp3 players or smartphones enable podcast episodes to be used beyond class time. In addition to post-processing of listening texts dealt with in class or listening comprehension tasks based on podcast episodes for independent processing, learners can also use podcasts independently to support language acquisition. Since most podcasts are not made explicitly for learners, they are only suitable for autonomous learners from around B1 (= independent language use) or later. However, there are also offers specially designed for learners, such as the didactic offers of the Deutsche Welle or contributions from native speakers made available via the audio-lingua portal, some of which are also aimed at learners at lower levels.


When creating podcasts, the focus is primarily on oral production, i.e. speaking or pronunciation. Depending on the task and thematic focus, reading comprehension or writing can also be included.

Use of podcasts in math class

Video podcasts

In mathematics, written and graphic representation has a central function. An example of video podcasts demanding to mathematical topics is that of BR-alpha with the mathematics professor Albrecht Beutelspacher created series Hands-on Mathematics . The different episodes are suitable for use as an impulse for mathematical topics in teacher training and in secondary education.

Audio podcasts

When learners produce audio podcasts on mathematical subjects, the written and graphic means of representation must be compensated for by the clear use of terms. Such audio podcasts are available for two different target groups: for elementary school children (PriMaPodcasts) and for students of the teaching profession (Maths podcasts). The PriMaPodcasts are podcasts on mathematics created by primary school students . They serve to form mathematical terms but also as access to research in this area. As Prima podcasts and examples are available in English, Spanish and Turkish. The MathePodcasts are podcasts created by students on mathematical topics. The aim of creating podcasts is to deepen mathematical content or to prepare for the creation of audio podcasts with the students.

Word of the year 2005 in the USA

After the word " podcast " was included in the Oxford Dictionary of English in August 2005 , it was voted Word of the Year 2005 by the New Oxford American Dictionary . According to the jury, the decision for “ podcast ” was primarily based on the “phenomenal spread” of the word, which “made it from relative obscurity to one of the hottest media trends”.


Icon for RSS feeds

There is no uniform pictogram for the icon display of podcasts, for example in pod catchers. One of the most famous is the purple male used on iTunes , with radio waves emanating from its head. However, this graphic is protected by Apple and may not be used by third parties. For this reason, the RSS pictogram is often used . Two suggestions based on this are shown here.

See also


Web links

Commons : Podcasting  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Podcast  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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