How and why to listen to podcasts
Because I am such a podcast junkie, I often forget that many people still do not know what exactly podcasts are or how to find them. A podcast is most like a radio show, except that it is available on demand. Podcast creators publish new episodes which can be downloaded or streamed on the internet or your smartphone or tablet. You never need to worry about tuning in at a particular time to hear a show; the latest episodes are waiting for you when you are ready.
Podcasts are of course great for long car trips, but they also help pass the time when you are folding laundry, cleaning, or doing other tasks that require your hands and eyes but not much brainpower. Podcasts cover nearly every topic nowadays, and even popular radio shows like NPR's This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me are also available in podcast form.
Podcasts for iPhone users
If you own an iPhone, you already have a podcast app. Simply open the podcast app, search for a show, and subscribe. You may also download individual episode if you would rather not listen to the show on a recurring basis. The native iPhone app uses iTunes, which is still the most popular platform for podcasts.
That said, I do not prefer the iPhone's built-in app. I use Overcast because I find the interface more appealing and easier to use, and I almost always listen to shows at a faster speed. A simple Google search for podcast apps will return many options, and most of them are good.
Podcasts for Android users
Android users do not have the options as Apple users, but there are many good alternatives. Many podcast creators have begun to upload their content to Google Play, which is built into the Android packages, and Stitcher and Pocket Casts also work well.
That's pretty much it. You can alway listen to shows at your computer by opening up iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher, but much of the beauty of podcasts is that they communicate information through audio only, so you can continue with all of the active tasks of your day and still feel entertained or productive.
One more thing: show notes. Should you want to revisit or find out more about something that was said during a particular show, check out the episode's show notes. Podcast creators usually create lists of links and other information with each new episode.
Finally, in case you haven't heard, I started a podcast! Follow along here, and consider adding Churches Doing Cool Things to your podcast app.