Finding Free Commercial Podcasts
It has been said that the best things in life are free, and when one looks at the vast array of commercial radio shows and other content available as podcasts at no cost, the old saying may just be true after all.
As the phenomenon of podcasting continues to take hold in the general population, there is increasing pressure for producers to make their shows available online so that they can stay connected to their core audience. Indeed, doing so may even help expand their audience. At any rate, publishing shows as podcasts on their Web sites won't hurt their ratings!
AudioBooksForFree.com (Figure 2.40) is a place where you can grab audiobooks in MP3 format for absolutely no cost. How is this possible? The answer lies in the fact that all the books available on this Web site have expired copyrights. Before you become despondent with disappointment, remember that many fantastic classic pieces of fiction can be had for no cost at all, including works by Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe, and AudioBooksForFree.com is an excellent resource.
Figure 2.40. An audiobook source with a catch: If you want the high-quality version of the audiobooks, you must pay.
The catch with this Web site is that the quality of the free books is not exactly what you would be willing to pay for. In other words, there is a reason why it is free. The free books sound like they are coming out of a telephone, but for a small charge of between $3 and $6, you can get high-quality versions of the same books. Either way, it's worthwhile to see whether the "free" audio quality is bearable enough for you to enjoy.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, offering podcasts of several of its radio programs, not the least of which are Tod Maffin's "/Nerd" show and "Quirks & Quarks," hosted by Bob McDonald (Figure 2.41).
Figure 2.41. "Quirks & Quarks" was one of the first programs that the CBC podcasted.
The CBC is a large radio and television network that arguably is the glue that holds the large country of Canada together. Like NPR, the CBC is publicly funded, and as such, the podcasts are available for no cost. The up side to the CBC's adoption of this technology is that Canadians living around the world can keep up on happenings in their home country.
Internet radio (shown in Windows Media Player in Figure 2.42) is a form of streaming audio in which traditional radio stations broadcast on the Internet for anyone to listen. With hundreds of stations from all over the planet, Internet radio can make for some very interesting listening sessions. Want to listen to a pop radio station in London or hear about traffic in Moscow? Internet radio is the medium for you!
Figure 2.42. Internet radio opens the entire world to your ears. As long as you have a connection to the 'net, you're in.
Some would argue that Internet radio is also a form of podcasting, but because Internet radio involves live streaming audio, it is not podcasting per se. That said, there are software packages available, such as Replay Radio (www.replay-radio.com), that allow you to record any Internet radio show and then turn it into an MP3 file for download to your iPod or other digital music device. At $29.95, the software isn't inexpensive, but if you are a big fan of the programming available on Internet radio, it will be money well spent.
KYOU Radio (and Radio Stations Everywhere)
KYOU Radio (Figure 2.44), a radio station in the Bay Area of California, was the first station to go to an all-podcast format. KYOU is unique because it's available at 1550 on the AM dial in the San Francisco area, but it's also available streaming online and in podcast form. What's special about KYOU is that podcasters actually have a shot at getting their shows on the air! KYOU Radio openly solicits podcasts from the general population to help meet its programming needs.
Figure 2.44. KYOU Radio was the first station in the United States to go all-podcast.
Like NPR in the United States and CBC in Canada, radio stations and networks everywhere are starting to jump on the podcasting bandwagon and are increasingly making content available for download. One of the countless examples is from CHUM Radio in Toronto (Figure 2.45). CHUM recently started podcasting its "Roger, Rick, and Marilyn" morning show so that commuters who may have missed the show in the morning can download it at work and listen to it on the drive home.
Figure 2.45. Radio stations everywhere are turning to podcasts to keep connected to their audiences.
This is just one small example of how radio stations are turning to podcasts to reach and expand their audiences. After all, people who work an evening shift normally would not be out of bed in time to listen to a morning show. But if that morning show is available via podcast, they can catch the show on their way to work in the afternoon via their iPod (or other device). If you have a favorite radio program that you can't always listen to, check to see whether a podcast is available for it. You never know.
National Public Radio
National Public Radio in the United States (Figure 2.46) is a prime example of free podcasts that are available to the public. Currently, all the content available for free from NPR is available as streaming content (audio that streams directly for play on a computer-based media player), but not all the files are available as MP3 files yet (although this is changing). Many NPR shows are available for a small charge on Audible.com as well, if you are interested in obtaining a self-contained podcast of a particular show.
Figure 2.46. NPR is a pioneer in podcasting, making many of its shows available via this route.
NPR is an excellent example of radio-show content that is made available to the public so that people can listen to specific shows at their leisure, and as NPR moves to make all of its content available as both MP3 files and streaming content, it can continue to be a leader in the podcasting realm.
To listen to a streaming NPR podcast, you need either the RealAudio media player or Windows Media Player.
Finding Free Commercial Podcasts