How To Get Started Listening to Podcasts

Learn how you can listen to podcasts, and why you should.

woman on subway wearing headphones looks at her cell phone

What's a podcast?

Podcasts are audio shows. They're similar to radio shows, but instead of being broadcast over the airwaves, they're posted online. With radio, you tune in at a particular time to hear the shows you love. With podcasts, you listen to your favorite shows whenever it's convenient for you.

Some podcasts are created by major news outlets that you're familiar with, such as NPR, BBC, Wall Street Journal and more. Some are created by organizations like NASW, or brands like OWN. Some are created by independent teams or individuals.

As with any media product, you'll want to get your hard news from a reputable source. For podcasts that you listen to more for their entertainment value, anything goes.

Why should you listen to podcasts?

You can listen to learn something on a topic of interest to you. You can explore new ideas. You can listen to stay on top of the news, industry trends or just be entertained.

Podcasts give you free access to experts, first-hand reports, long-form reporting, and more. Some shows take ample advantage of the fact that podcasts don't have the same time restraints (or the same FCC restrictions on language) as radio.

They can transform your commuting time into an opportunity for learning.

How can you listen to podcasts?

There are several ways to listen to podcasts:

  • You can listen to them online by clicking the play button on a website. For example, every episode of NASW Social Work Talks podcast includes a show notes page where you can listen to it.
  • You can listen to podcast episodes using a podcast app on your mobile device.
  • Some podcasts are also on Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud .

How to download podcasts

To listen to podcasts on your mobile device, you'll need to use an app.

Apple and Android mobile devices come with a dedicated Podcasts app that you'll use to download podcasts from iTunes or Google Play, respectively. There are other podcast apps with different features, but start with the one that's already on your phone.

If you already use Spotify, you can listen to podcasts there as well. There aren't as many podcasts in Spotify yet as in iTunes or Google Play.

How to find podcasts you'll like

Ask your friends and colleagues what podcasts they listen to. 

Or open the Podcasts app on your device and type a search phrase (like "social work" or "organic gardening"), an organization's name (like NPR or NASW), or a podcast's name ("Social Work Talks" or "Fresh Air").

Click on the show's icon and download an episode or two that look interesting. Have a listen.

If you like what you hear, subscribe to a few shows within the app; that way, the latest episodes will download to your device automatically as they become available.

Repeat, and enjoy!

Need detailed instructions?

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Subscribe to Social Work Talks

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Play Music
Get Stitcher
Listen on Spotify

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. Dalai Lama