1/12/2022 | By Seniors Guide Staff

More and more people are tuning in to podcasts as they go for their daily walk or run, go about their chores, or relax at home. Nearly any topic you’d enjoy hearing about is covered by a podcast, including sports, food, gardening, pets, politics, health, fitness, fiction, nostalgia, financial matters, entertainment, and literature. And most of these shows are absolutely free. Though podcasting technology is relatively new, learning how to listen to podcasts is simple.

What is a podcast?

Podcasts began with the creation of Apple’s iPod. In fact, the word “podcast” is derived from a combination of the words “iPod” and “broadcast.” A podcast is an audio program, similar to talk radio, that you get through your smart phone or other devices. Each podcast episode focuses on a specific topic that you can listen to anywhere and at your convenience.

What equipment do I need to listen to podcasts?

You might already have all that you need to tune in to podcasts, and any additional equipment is free or inexpensive.

As with a radio or TV, the first thing you need is the “receiver.” This can include a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, or even a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant.

These devices have speakers built in, so you technically don’t need anything else. On the other hand, you can add an external speaker for increased clarity and convenience, using a cord or Bluetooth wireless. You can listen through headphones or speakers – at home, on the go, or in your car.

OK, what next?

To listen to podcasts, you’ll connect with podcasts through apps – applications – on your device. Here are some specific devices and podcast apps to get you started.

Apple devices

The default app for Apple products – iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, CarPlay, or iPod – is the Apple Podcasts app. This is one of the most comprehensive and free podcast services around. It offers millions of shows that you can download for listening offline, without using internet or data.

After tapping on the Apple Podcasts app to open it, you can search for a show by category or topic or, if you already know the name, you can type that in the search field. When you find a show of interest, tap the icon for more information. If it’s of interest to you, tap the “Follow” button.

Note: Sometimes this app is found under “Entertainment.”

You can use it with Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant, Talk to Siri, and she will provide podcast suggestions or begin playing your requested show. You can also listen to podcasts through Amazon Alexa products by linking your Apple Podcasts account with the Alexa app.

The Apple app store offers other podcast apps, too, such as Google Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Audible Plus, and others.

Related: 8 of the best podcasts for baby boomers

Google Podcasts, available on many devices

Google Podcasts is another free service that works with web browsers, Android devices, and iOS devices, and its friendly interface makes it a favorite with both novices and experienced listeners. The app hosts many of the shows available on Apple Podcasts and includes a homepage that guides you toward popular podcasts based on genres and what is trending and currently popular. As with most other apps, you can follow and subscribe to your favorite shows and download them for offline listening.

Google Podcasts has an exclusive feature that allows you to explore topics on an episode’s page. By linking to Google search results for specific keywords based on your podcast’s topic, you can get additional information or the latest relevant news.

Spotify for music and podcasts

Even though Spotify is known mostly as a music streaming service, it offers quite a few podcasts as exclusive titles. You can play Spotify from several supported devices, including web browsers, iOS, Android, media players, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

Spotify has a free option. The paid subscription ($10 a month for Premium service) plays podcasts or music without advertising interruptions.

Spotify’s podcast homepage highlights collections and genres that include podcasts you won’t find anywhere else. After you find a podcast you think you’ll like, you can choose to “follow” it, meaning you will receive notifications whenever your favorite show is updated.

As with Apple Podcasts, you can listen to your Spotify shows through any Alexa-supported device, such as the Amazon Echo.

Audible for books and podcasts

Audible is well-known for its audiobooks, but the app also offers many podcasts, including the Audible Original series. Subscriptions are available in three options: Free, Audible Plus at $8 a month, and Audible Premium Plus at $15 a month. Although Audible has a broad selection of free podcasts, but Audible Originals require a paid subscription.

Audible is compatible with several devices, including web players, Apple iOS products, Android, Windows 10 tablets, and Fire tablets. The app includes a sleep timer, and it allows users to listen offline. Audible subscribers may add podcasts to their library and automatically download them when new episodes arrive. And as an Amazon company, Audible works flawlessly with any Alexa-enabled device.

Eighty million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, according to a survey from Edison One and Triton Digital. So, if you get addicted to one of the many available podcasts, rest assured you have lots of company. Explore and enjoy!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff