Podcasts are simply feeds of simple MP3 files that can be hosted by any web server. However, many podcast producers experience trouble keeping their sound files accessible to audiences, especially when podcast episodes become extremely popular. Most inexpensive web hosting providers do not necessarily specialize in podcast hosting. As a result, when many listeners try to access a single podcast file at once, hard drives can lock up, servers can seize, and hosting accounts can quickly run beyond their allotted bandwidth allowances.
Therefore, many experienced podcast producers host their podcast feeds and sound files at specialized services away from their main servers. That way, if a particular podcast gains national or worldwide attention, a podcast hosting provider can handle the load without charging excess overage fees. Likewise, many of the best podcast hosting providers charge far less for data storage than traditional web hosts, since audio files can easily be moved and copied within data centers. Here are three of the best podcast hosting providers on the market.
HipCast.com. Operated by Eric Rice, HipCast is one of the best podcast hosting providers for new podcasters. HipCast offers simple controls that let inexperienced users create and upload podcast files directly from their web browsers. With just a microphone and a live web connection, you can have your own podcast up and running in a matter of minutes. HipCast’s affordable pricing, with packages under five dollars per month, make it easy for budding podcasters to experiment without breaking the bank.
AudioAcrobat.com. If AudioAcrobat resembles HipCast, it’s because both services share a common technical infrastructure. The slightly more expensive AudioAcrobat does not share all of HipCast’s easy blogging features, but it does carry a few unique benefits. For example, users can give out a “guest line” phone number that allows podcast listeners to leave reactions as voice mail messages that can be incorporated into podcast playlists.
Liberated Syndication. While requiring a little more technical sophistication, LibSyn is one of the best podcast hosting providers because of its innovative pricing structure. LibSyn charges its users based on the number of new material they upload to the server each month, with no charges for data transfer. That way, podcast producers that experience a sudden surge of interest after receiving attention from a major site like Fark or Digg can rest easy. LibSyn’s powerful servers will handle a heavy load without putting an unexpected burden on the pocketbook.
The Story Behind Baptist Church Podcasts
When podcasting emerged as a way for technical experts to share information with each other a few years ago, few people considered the impact that podcasting could have on faith and spirituality. However, recent research indicates that Baptist Church podcasts and other religious “godcasts” are growing faster than all other types of podcasts, combined.
It makes perfect sense for Baptist Church podcasts to grow so rapidly – evangelical churches spread the word about Jesus Christ as part of their everyday mission. Tech-savvy preachers and their technical teams realized quickly that recorded sermons could easily be repurposed into podcasts. Preachers and other religious leaders can not only connect with members of their own flock, but they can attract faithful listeners from all over the world.
Baptist Church podcasts can also play a role in fundraising. Now that it has become relatively easy for listeners to subscribe to podcasts without much technical knowledge, churches and other religious organizations can reach out to listeners for online donations. Some podcasts use toll free telephone numbers to collect donations. But the most effective churches and charities use free or inexpensive tools from companies like PayPal to boost the amount in their collection baskets each week.
Baptist Church podcasts hold listener interest by mixing sermons and Bible readings with live music and commentary. In some communities church podcasts provide more comprehensive local news coverage than some radio stations or newspapers. Other religious podcasters use their audio feeds to promote contemporary Christian music and to promote church-sponsored events.
Baptist Church podcasts aren’t the only religious audio feeds available online. Every religion practiced on Earth is represented somewhere in the podcasting universe. One reporter for the British newspaper, The Guardian, even found a Buddhist podcast produced as a hobby by a professional crisis management consultant.
Regardless of denomination, listeners of religious podcasts enjoy the opportunity to embrace their spirituality throughout the week. Some subscribers to Baptist Church podcasts report listening to upbeat religious music on the treadmills at their gyms. Other listeners use calming meditations and benedictions to relieve stress at work or on the road. Business travelers listen to Baptist Church podcasts in hotels and in airports to remain connected to their congregations while easing a sense of lonliness that can set in on the road.
As a growing number of churches invest in podcast production technology, expect to hear even more Baptist Church podcasts in the near future.
The Story Behind the Guiding Light Podcast
With ratings flagging for one of the oldest shows in soap opera history, executives at CBS decided to launch an experimental podcast of “Guiding Light.” In some ways, as Vauhini Vara of the Wall Street Journal points out, the move is a return to the show’s roots. The Guiding Light Podcast reconnects the series to its origins as a radio soap opera in the late 1930’s. Today’s podcasting technology means that fans no longer have to gather around the radio – or even the television – to enjoy the devious plots cooked up by the characters of Springfield.
The Guiding Light Podcast offers much more than just the audio track from the previous day’s episode. A podcast producer actually strips out commercials and remasters the audio so listeners can understand everything that happens in an episode. Since it can be difficult for listeners to know when a villain is hiding in the bushes or when a heroine is gazing longingly at her man, a narrator helps fill in gaps in the action.
CBS launched the Guiding Light Podcast without ads to help promote the show and build a more direct relationship with a younger audience. Network executives hope that the Guiding Light Podcast can encourage tech-savvy fans to start grabbing the television show using their TiVos. Once the audience for the Guiding Light Podcast grows large enough, producers expect to support its production costs with subtle advertising at the beginning and at the end of every episode.
Executives at other networks are eager to see how the Guiding Light Podcast helps grow audience for CBS. All of the broadcast television networks, as well as many cable outlets, have experimented with companion podcasts for their biggest shows. However, most of those podcasts are technical commentaries by the show’s technical teams and plot recaps by show producers. The Lost podcast at ABC.com, the Battlestar Galactica podcast at SciFi.com, and the Doctor Who podcast at BBC.co.uk all represent some of the most popular companion podcasts for network television shows.
The Guiding Light Podcast has also inspired some unusual companions. A number of independent podcast producers are using old-time radio drama recording techniques to produce daily audio soap operas. These soap opera podcasts range from a few minutes a day to a few full hours each week, offering commuters and soap opera junkies more material to choose from.
CBS Guiding Light Podcast
Soap Opera Podcasts from Odeo
Wall Street Journal
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