Friday, October 2, 2009

Podcasts and ExPats

Things were unbelievably different only a short time ago in Turkey. When I first came here, there were no private radio or television stations at all, only the government ones. It wouldn't have mattered much because I didn't have a television . My only link to my culture was short wave. Impossible to imagine, isn't it? kidSunday evenings listening to the BBC or that corny Voice of America. Still I was pretty thankful to have even that. Look how things have changed.

The internet has brought a revolution- something I would never have thought possible. For all you expats out there, feeling a bit removed and isolated, I wanted to pass on something you may not be aware of. If you are familiar with podcasts- how they work and their benefits, then skip this post. If not, I want to show you how to- in effect- put together a personal radio station for your listening pleasure. 

What is a podcast? This is like a broadcast you can subscribe to from the internet. The content can be just about any audio thing you like. Music, news, lectures, short stories. Before I launch into the step by step, relax- take a deep breath- it isn't hard. Ok then.


First you will need a podcatcher and player. I use Winamp but there are others, like iTunes, Zune and Juice. I will explain using Winamp because I am not familiar with the other ones.


Now, after you have installed Winamp. Open it and go to the top of the main Winamp window. You will see some drop down menu choices. Choose View and click on Media Library. On the left side you will a selection. About halfway down, there is Podcast Directory.


In Podcast Directory selection, you can start finding the podcast you might want to listen to. Personally, I don't use the Winamp podcast directory. I found it pretty limited and a lot of the links were old. However, with Google you can find- quite literally- millions of choices.


For the moment we will use the podcast directory in Winamp just to get you started. Open up the directory and you will see some tags- which are very basic descriptions of the podcast subject. Let's experiment. For example, click on Cooking and immediately a list will appear to the side of thee screen giving you a list of podcasts about cooking. Clicking on the name of the podcast will also give you more information but it is really hit or miss. (Don't panic, if you don't enjoy the podcast, you can alway remove your subscription later.)


Next to the name you will see a button that says Subscribe. By clicking that button, you will receive regularly updated MP3 broadcasts from that producer. Some of them are very professional and some are pretty basic or amateur.


Now let's say you cannot find anything appealing. By going to Google and running a search for podcast directories, you can find other sites that display links to podcasters by subject.


Many of your favorite sites offer podcast already but you will have to add your subscription yourself. It isn't difficult and if you make a mistake, nothing will explode or anything. Here's how to add them yourself. Go back up to Step 2. You look to the left of your Media Library Window and you saw Podcast Directory. Nestled in this you will find Subscriptions. Right click on this and a new window appears.


Channels on the left and items etc on the right. It should be blank at this point if you haven't added any subscriptions so far. At the bottom of the left side you will see Add. A little window will open and ask you to fill in an address (actually a podcast id information)


Here is a pic of an NPR Culturetopia Podcast page. Note the  address, highlight and copy. paste this in the Winamp RSS window and you now have a subscription. Every time there is a new show (every week, I think for this show) Winamp will let you know.pod


Add as many subscriptions as you want. You will probably add too many and then reduce the number as time goes on. Here are a few of my personal favorites. The Moth Podcast- which is a show where people tell their life stories without a script and on stage. Acoustic Long Island- an interesting live performance type show. NPR Story Corp- a weekly show collecting personal stories. This American Life- of course. Finally, The Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour Podcast- cool folk music presented live on stage.

Additionally, you can download any of these podcast as Mp3s, move them to your Mp3 player and listen to them anywhere. One more thing to add, for direct streaming is always better to have a strong and stable connection. So if the podcast keeps breaking up, ( very frustrating!) you might switch to a direct LAN connection, rather than a wireless connection.

Good Luck!

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  1. By the way, I was using Winamp version 5.56. There is an upgrade but I had a lot of problems using in the same way as described in the post after I upgraded. Good luck!

  2. Sounds like you had it worse than us. When we first lived in Turkey at least we had a wind-up radio and we could pick up a radio station called TRT. Every so often it was in English and they had a guy called Nick who got everything wrong. He did the jingle for it - "TRT - Turkish Tourism Radio"(he never seemed to spot that those initials were the wrong way round). He was hilarious - like Alan Partridge. He once actually said his favourite Beatles album was 'Best of The Beatles'

  3. Be a follower, and maybe I will tell you about my adventure as a DJ in Turkey. More over, Nick!


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