Heard any good jokes lately? Were the jokes in Spanish? Were the jokes only about politics or political issues? When you heard the jokes, did you find a way that you could use them to create your own business, start a website and make money? If so, you have probably been listening to a podcast.

There seems to be a day for everything, and Sept. 30 has been set aside to celebrate as International Podcast Day. The special day presents an opportunity to explore and enjoy the doors of learning and opportunity that are opened through podcasts.

According to the internationalpodcastday.com website, the word “podcast” was first used by Ben Hammersley in a 2004 Guardian newspaper article. The “pod” was borrowed from Apple’s iPod digital media player. The “cast” was taken from the broadcast term from radio and television. The resulting podcast isn’t limited to Apple products to either listen or broadcast.

Most of us understand that a podcast is like a program broadcast on the radio, but it is so much more. A radio station makes a broadcast, trying to reach as many people as possible with its program. The broadcast can be heard at a specific location, at a specific time.

Think of a podcast as a narrowcast. It is radio on the Internet, on demand. By presenting specialized content, the podcast’s audience is more targeted. People listening choose to listen because of their interest in the subject matter or the speaker. Podcasts can be listened to on your schedule, not when a station decides to air the program.

Podcasts vary in the regularity of its new episodes, and the length of the episode. Some podcasts also include a video feed. Although most do not charge for listening, expect to hear advertisements just as you would during programming on television. Many shows will also have portions of the episode on its website, Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media outlets.

What makes the podcast unique is how it casts its programming. Many podcasters have websites that provide information on its programming schedules. But through a process known as RSS (Real Simple Syndication), listeners can subscribe to podcasts (most are free of charge) by clicking its RSS icon. The listener chooses how it wants to “hear” the program like Spotify, iTunes, Feedspot or Buzzsprout. The subscriber will be notified when a new show has been released. Podcasts can be produced by just about anyone, often with little cost.

If you are considering starting a podcast, International Podcast Day may provide you a wealth of information and motivation. Nearly 350 podcasters from about 100 nations share their podcast journeys, stories and expertise in the industry. Broadcasts will give you advice and teach you skills necessary to support your interests or business.

As the magazine industry continues to change, podcasting provides the audience an alternative for picking up information about specific interests and needs. Sounds in our house often include ghost stories, mysteries and tidbits of history. Use International Podcast Day as your starting point to become more involved in this form of learning. There are podcasts for almost every interest. Here are three personal interests that might spark your thinking.

Baseball has long been a favorite sport. Witnessing first-hand the frenzy that occurs in Cincinnati over their “Boys of Summer,” the Reds occupy a portion of my podcast week. The Cincinnati Reds Podcast is produced by the Reds Radio Network. It casts daily and averages about 12 minutes in length. Off-season information keeps you current and gives you hope that next year will be the year. Reds Beat Podcast is produced by the Cincinnati Enquirer once a month and offers insightful storylines. The Hunt for Reds October Podcast provides monthly advice for ways the Reds might still be playing ball in October.

Your favorite team probably has several choices for encouragement and banter.

Communication has always been an integral part of my personality and interests. Between writing daily and teaching three or four days weekly, communication is a key part of my career. The words we choose to use are so important. Plato is credited with saying, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.” Several podcasts of this genre attract my attention.

“Communicate to Motivate” is a weekly podcast stressing communication skills and personal development. The less-than-15 minute episode is brief and to the point, but provides relevant and practical takeaways. The new episodes each Monday start the week in a powerful way. “Talk About Talk” discusses effective communication skills about twice a month. Communication Coach Dr. Andrea Wojnicki brings helpful information in about 30 minute segments. My interests in the Greek culture have even found a communication podcast from some leaders from Greece.

What areas of your career coincide with your personality and interests? Some podcasts can be used for continuing education credits in your business.

There are times when we need a shot of adrenaline or a kick in the pants. There are podcasts available to provide just the right motivation. A personal favorite continues to be “No More Excuses” by Sandi Ballard, a weekly, challenging podcast. Her episode, “Are You Set Up for Success?” is probably one we should listen to every other month. The podcasts are only between 10 and 15 minutes. New episodes are released each Monday.

From the Catbird Seat, two quotes by Albert Einstein have resonated in my memory for years. The first is “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” The other is quite pointed: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” I hope you celebrated International Podcast Day by giving yourself the most valuable asset you will ever possess.

Tom May is a freelance writer and educator, and a columnist for the News and Tribune. Reach him at tgmay001@gmail.com

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