Podcasts are online-generated mp3 files that users subscribe to through an RSS feed. By subscribing, users will know when a new episode of a podcast is available for download. Some liken podcasts to on-demand radio, where online users can dictate the type of content they receive, and when and where they listen to it. Podcasts cover every topic from news and sports to education and music. Many popular newspaper columnists and television hosts use podcasts as another way to communicate. National Public Radio (NPR), the Wall Street Journal and the hosts and programs on MSNBC deliver podcasts. But like many things web-related, anyone with the equipment and something to say can create their own podcast.
The state of podcast search sites today appears to be wobbly at best. The Yahoo! Podcasts site shut down two years ago, and podcastalley.com is supported by mevio.com, which also acquired another podcast search site. After doing a little research, it seems that podcast search sites are being outdone by video search sites (think YouTube). With that said, sites such as podcastalley.com still are a great way to search podcasts, without having to wade through the unneeded results that may come up in a Google, or related-type search.
Even so, podcasts are still a popular way to receive information via your computer or downloaded to a handheld device (iPhone, iPod, etc.). I love the brevity of most podcasts, too. In ten minutes, I can hear about the latest books, find out the news or practice some deep calming yoga breathing via a guided meditation.