Podcasting combines the freedom of blogging with the technology of MP3s.

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Have you ever dreamed of having your own radio show? Are you a recording artist hoping to have your songs heard by the masses? Decades ago, you would have needed a lot of connections -- or a fortune -- to get heard.

But now, thanks to the Internet and its instantaneous connection to millions of people, your dreams can become reality. Just as blogging has enabled almost anyone with a computer to become a bona fide reporter, podcasting allows virtually anyone with a computer to become a radio disc jockey, talk show host or recording artist.

Although podcasting first found popularity within the techie set, it has since caught on with the general public. Log on to one of several podcast sites on the Web, and you can download content ranging from music to philosophy to sports. Podcasting combines the freedom of blogging with digital audio technology to create an almost endless supply of content. Some say this new technology is democratizing the once corporate-run world of radio.

­Podcasting is a free service that allows Internet users to pull audio files (typically MP3s) from a podcasting Web site to listen to on their computers or personal digital audio players. The term comes from a combination of the words iPod (a personal digital audio player made by Apple) and broadcasting. Even though the term is derived from the iPod, you don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast. You can use virtually any portable media player or your computer.

­Unlike Internet radio, users don't have to 'tune in' to a particular broadcast. Instead, they download the podcast on demand or subscribe via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, which automatically downloads the podcast to their computers. The technology is similar to that used by TiVo, a ­personal video recorder that lets users set which programs they'd like to record and then automatically records those programs for later viewing.

In this article, you'll learn how podcasting works, discover where to find podcasts and how to listen to them. You'll also find out what tools you need to create your own podcast and how to promote it, as well as hear what industry analysts have to say about the future of this burgeoning technology and its counterpart, video podcasting.

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