Podcasts provide an easy and inexpensive way to connect with fascinating people and topics – and increasingly with Valley events. Some readers may not be aware that local groups such as Opeongo Readers’ Theatre and St. John Bosco School students have produced podcasts. The concept of podcasts has been building for more than ten years and has achieved worldwide popularity –because it offers access to an unlimited range of listening material. One reason why podcasts might have been a little slow to catch on in some areas of the Valley is that our internet service can be tricky at times, depending on your connection. This article suggests ways that you can explore the world of podcasts without running up a huge data bill.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a digital audio file stored on the internet. Often a podcast has episodes, like a regular TV or radio series. But unlike your favourite radio show, you don’t have to tune in at any particular time. It’s already recorded and waiting for you to listen to when you want. Think of it a bit like having a PVR for internet listening. All kinds of topics are available in podcasts – fiction, news, documentary, sports. For example, CBC does a weekly “Hockey Night in Canada” podcast.
Just because the recording is available from the internet doesn’t mean you have to be connected to the internet to listen. There are loads of free podcast players for your smartphone, tablet or computer that allow you to download the podcast you want and then play it back at your convenience: in your house, or if it’s stored on your phone in your car, boat, or anywhere. And unlike a radio broadcast you can listen (and replay) a podcast anytime you want once it’s been downloaded to your device.
Download from the internet
Podcasts are still available to you even you have no internet at home (or no data plan on your smartphone or tablet). You can use the WiFi zone at a public library, coffee shop, restaurant or school. Download a podcast player app (See below.) Then select and sign up for the podcast series you want to listen to. You can choose to have new episodes automatically downloaded whenever you connect to a WiFi zone. That way, you’ll have everything ready and waiting for you to listen to – where and when you want it.
Podcast player apps
There are lots of podcast player applications (apps) to choose from — often free. You need to select a podcast player app that suits your device. The two main choices are IOS (for Apple products like iPhones and iPads) and Android (for many other types of smartphones and tablets). Fortunately, there are plenty of podcast apps that work on both systems. When writing this article I made the following list in just a few minutes from the results of an internet search for “2019 reviews of free podcast apps.” Full disclosure: This article is not a review or recommendation as I have not tried all of these and these are just a few of the available apps. You would be wise to look for unsponsored independent reviews. Also, before downloading an app check to see if it is being used by thousands of customers. If only a handful have downloaded it, steer clear.
Staff at the public library can help you download a podcast player app and explain how to search for some podcasts to listen to. Just like the player apps, many podcasts themselves are free but others require you to pay for the subscription.
Even if listening to podcasts is new to many Valley residents, people in the Valley are already podcasting to the rest of the world. So in that way we’re actually ahead of ourselves.
Not only do we have a regular podcasting group that records live performances but students at a local school have even produced their own podcast. Many readers will recall the “Remember Me” performance by the Opeongo Readers’ Theatre (ORT) at the Legion last November. But did you know that ORT also records podcasts along the Opeongo Line in Whitney, Maynooth and Killaloe?
- Opeongo Readers’ Theatre produces live spoken-word performances of classic literature (public domain only) and 19th century Upper Ottawa Valley documents about the shanty history and culture of the Upper Ottawa Valley of Eastern Ontario, Canada. At time of writing ORT has produced and uploaded thirteen episodes. Look for this logo when you search Opeongo Readers’ Theatre:
- St. John Bosco Grade 7-8 students produced “A Bosco Christmas” as part of the school’s Christmas presentation. Their teacher, Jordan Norris, explained the students were inspired by a podcast they had studied in class “The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel.” They wrote the entire podcast themselves, including stories and commercials. They collaborated on Google Docs, with some students responsible for the story while others worked on the narration. Using iMovie and Garage Band, they recorded the audio clips and helped with the editing. In order to provide some visual for the audience at the Christmas celebration, Norris recorded this as a video. It has not been uploaded as a podcast.
Left: Kayla Dombroskie, Tasha Rankin. Tasha did the character sketches for the characters in the podcast Mars Patel. Since the students only heard the character voices and descriptions, they had to infer what the characters looked like. They wrote character sketches for Tasha and she brought the characters to life. Centre: Jeremiah Nicholson, Sawyer Smith collaborate to write their portion of the script. Right: David Gonzalez, Kaden Currins record their voices for the podcast.
Join the podcast revolution
If you want to participate in and even learn how to produce your own podcast, then you’re in luck. Barry Conway, producer of the ORT podcast, plans to branch out this year with a series of community podcasts and podcasting workshops in Barry’s Bay, Killaloe, Maynooth and Whitney. Check out upcoming events and workshops at your local public library or email Barry Conway at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you’ve downloaded some podcasts, you’ll be able to listen while you drive, wash the dishes … or sit in a fish shack!
Featured photo above: Opeongo Readers’ Theatre performs “The Tartan Show” for Robbie Burns Day in Barry’s Bay. From left: Karen Filipkowski, Kristin Marchand, Mark Woermke, Lois Losole