Podcasts: A User’s Guide
by Linae Warden
Diverse Fort Collins encourages you to listen to podcasts related to racial justice and social justice.
I was inspired to write this guide by a Diverse Fort Collins friend who is interested in listening to podcasts but doesn’t know where to start.
We hear a lot in the news about how we need a “national conversation” about race and racism. What does that mean? And how can we as individuals participate in a meaningful way?
A “national conversation” involves a few things:
- Knowledge: About what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racism and discrimination. How does it manifest in our society? What does “systemic racism and/or discrimination” look like?
- Public Action: What is society and government doing to address institutional, structural and system racism on a community, state and national level?
- Private Action: What can and should we be doing on a local, personal level to contribute to making a positive change, as a white person, as a person of color, as a member of a non-Christian religion, as a person of different gender and LGBTQ+ identities, or as a person with a physical or intellectual disability?
We may learn all of these by reading books and magazines, watching some television programs, films, and documentaries, and listening to podcasts. Podcasts are relatively new in our society, available on computers and smartphones. Like books and audiobooks, podcasts are portable and can be consumed while exercising, driving, on an airplane, waiting in line, or doing gardening and housework. Not everyone, however, knows how to access podcasts that may fit their interests.
Here is a guide to start.
Podcasts have rapidly become very popular. They are portable, exist on many commonly-used devices and platforms, and address just about any interest the listener may have, from health to politics, true crime to science, comedy to social research, news and wide-ranging interviews to targeted social issues.
Many radio and TV shows also post their episodes as podcasts, either sound-only or video, and on YouTube.
Among the most popular are the Pulitzer Prize-winning The 1619 Project and National Public Radio’s Code Switch.
Here’s how to access podcasts:
DEVICES: most of these use apps.
- Smartphones and tablets frequently come with a podcast app that will meet most needs without requiring additional payment, unless you have data costs. Check with your internet service provider.
- Tip: Have your phone or tablet auto-connect to your home wifi. It’s often better quality and more reliable and cheaper than if you have a limited data plan. Your provider should be able to walk you through it.
- iPhones (iOS) and Android phones (Google)
- iPads, Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon FireStick, Google Android tablets, all brands.
- Digital Assistants/Smart Speakers such Siri, Alexa, etc.
Note: Digital assistants and smart speakers may not be as straightforward in accessing podcasts as hand-held devices.
If interested, you can read more there:
Siri users should call the Genius Bar. Online instructions are not easy to find.
- Newer car computer apps: check with your dealer.
Virtually all podcasts also have websites that archive their previous shows, which are usually updated within 24 hours of broadcast. You can usually easily search for topics of interest, authors, etc.
You may want to consider getting plug-in external speakers or Bluetooth (wireless) speakers if you want to listen while, say, preparing lunch. Many laptops do not have loud speakers.
Some podcasts also have video versions on a YouTube channel. They will tell you during an episode if this is so.
Most podcasts (and podcast apps) have two versions: Free and Premium, which is an option that includes longer interviews, some expanded content, and no commercials. Free podcasts have short commercials before and during their shows to pay for production costs; they often promote other podcasts. Apps are usually free. The ones listed here are free or have a free version.
PODCAST APPS: hand-held devices
There are many podcast apps from which to choose. Below are the most common and how to access.
Apple Podcasts, formerly known as iTunes, which still works for both music and podcasts, if you have it installed:
If you don’t see the icon shown in the link above,
> Go to the Apple App Store (looks like an “A” formed of popsicle sticks)
> Search for “Apple Podcasts”
> Download Apple Podcasts
> You can also download and install the Google Podcast App and any of the other apps below on an iPhone, iPod or iPad.
Google Podcast may or may not be installed on a new phone.
> Go to the Google Play Store, listed in alphabetical order on your device – near Photos
> Search on Podcasts for Android Free.
You can choose the Google Podcasts or one of the offerings below: https://podcasts.google.com/
Podcasts only. Has both free and paid. Paying provides ad-free listening: https://www.stitcher.com
Comment: Stitcher seems to have an emphasis on entertainment podcasts.
Searching for Native American podcasts, for instance, brings up a lot of shows, none of which have anything to do with Native Americans. One in particular shows up on every list, though not part of the search criteria. A search for “Latino podcasts,” for example, brings up very few options.
Has both free and paid, for both music and podcasts: https://www.spotify.com/us/
Search results are not as plentiful as Google Podcasts.
If you have an Audible account (for book club titles, for instance), you can also access a number of podcasts through their search engine.
SEARCHING FOR YOUR PODCASTS
Once your podcast app of choice is loaded, open it and do a simple search (use the magnifying glass icon) on topic areas of interest.
For example, relating to diverse communities:
LGBTQ GAY QUEER BLACK BIPOC
NATIVE INDIGENOUS NATIVE AMERICAN
LATINO HISPANIC DISABILITY
ASIAN ASIAN AMERICAN AAPI SOUTH ASIAN
JEWISH MIDDLE EAST ISLAMIC
Comment: I found these areas of interest didn’t bring up many podcasts in Spotify or Stitcher, which seem more focused on entertainment than on information.
OTHER KINDS OF PODCASTS
A large number of podcasts are associated with news outlets and journalism, research organizations, universities, news and current events, etc. Many are interview shows and are rich in current information and news regarding the topics above.
NPR, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC all have podcasts of broadcast news and news-style programs.
My personal recommendations for interview shows:
ASPEN INSIGHT ASPEN IDEAS TO GO MOYERS ON DEMOCRACY
FRESH AIR THE 1A THINK HIDDEN BRAIN
ON POINT THE TAKEAWAY INTELLIGENCE SQUARED US DEBATE
CODE SWITCH ON BEING (spiritual) (Intell-Sqd: on YouTube, also a UK version)
LATINO USA (NPR) EZRA KLEIN VOX CONVERSATIONS
Comment: You can check out topics of interest by visiting their websites. Just search for the program name in your web browser. Then you can load them on your mobile devices if you choose.
The 1A → CHOOSE: the 1A:npr —> https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510316/1a
This will allow you to find and listen to recently-broadcast and past episodes.
Now that you have a basic knowledge of podcasts and how to access them, I wish you happy listening!
Linae Warden spent her career in customer service. Now retired, she volunteers for the City of Fort Collins, Diverse Fort Collins and public issue groups and political activities.
Linae’s service work honors her parents. Her mother served in the Navy during World War II and her father retired after 30 years as a career Air Force officer.
Diverse Fort Collins is a volunteer-driven community project connecting people with resources and each other. Let’s co-create an inclusive community!
Read information on free Spanish Conversation groups at DiverseFortCollins.com/events