Mount Olive Ministries

About Podcasting

What is Podcasting? According to the Wikipedia, "Podcasting" is a method of publishing audio files (usually in MP3 format) online in a way that allows software to automatically download the files for listening at the user's convenience. The word "podcasting" is derived from a blending of the words iPod and broadcasting. A podcast is like an audio magazine subscription: a subscriber receives regular audio programs delivered via the internet, and they can listen to them at their leisure.

Podcasts differ from traditional internet audio in two important ways. In the past, listeners have had to either tune in to web radio on a schedule, or they have had to search for and download individual files from webpages. Podcasts are much easier to get. They can be listened to at any time because a copy is on the listener's computer or portable music player (hence the "pod" in "podcasting"), and they can be setup for automatic delivery to subscribers, so no active downloading is required. Podcasting is functionally similar to the use of timeshift-capable digital video recorders (DVRs) which let users record and store television programs for later viewing. Learn more about Podcasting here or here.

The best way to get Podcasts is to have them download automatically to your MP3 player whenever a new one is posted. In this way, you'll always have a menu of great content to listen to anywhere you go! Here's how to get started.

  1. Download and install an MP3 audio utility, and optionally make sure it's syncing automatically to your portable player. A popular player is iTunes from Apple Computer, and it's corresponding portable player, the iPod (which is where Podcasting gets its name). iTunes version 4.9 runs under both Windows and Mac OS X and has built-in podcast "Podcatcher" features (see next point) making it a sort of all-in-one solution. However, podcasts work great with other programs and with portable players from other companies, too. You do not need a portable player to recieve podcasts, though - you can listen to them directly from your computer!
  2. Download and install a "Podcatcher." Podcatchers are pieces of software that automatically check Podcast feeds from various sources, and whenever a new Podcast is posted, it automatically downloads the MP3 file and places it in your player's library, ready to listen to or sync to your portable player. The most common and popular Podcatcher is iPodder, an open-source Podcatcher available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Get iPodder at www.ipodder.org, or download it from ipodder.sourceforge.net. If you're using iTunes, then you do not need additional "Podcatcher" software.
  3. Add the Mount Olive Podcast feed to your Podcatcher. If you're using iTunes, you can simply click here and subscribe through the iTunes Music Store or choose Advanced -> Subscribe to Podcast and type in   http://mt-olive.org/sermons/podcast.php   into the URL field. If you're using iPodder, simply type in   http://mt-olive.org/sermons/podcast.php   into the field labeled "Add feed manually" and click the Add button. Be sure to include the "http://" part into the field. See below for more details on this URL and options you may want to include.
  4. Sync your Podcatcher to the Podcast feed to pull down your first content. If you're using iTunes, click on the Podcasts icon in the left pane, then click on the Update button in the upper right corner of the window. If you're using iPodder, click the Check for new podcasts button to check all your sources for new content, or highlight your newly-added feed and push Check selected feed. This should automatically download new Podcasts from the Mount Olive website, and place them in your MP3 library in your player.
  5. Set the scheduler. Most often you'll want to set the scheduler to automatically download content from your sources and place them in your library whenever new files are posted. You can control the frequency and times for these checks within your Podcatcher's settings.

For the Technically Curious

How does this work? We generate an RSS feed with enclosures based on what sermons are available on our web site. RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", and it's nothing but a text file in the XML format containing brief descriptions of content that can be easily read in and formatted to a particular website's format. This is how news items are fed from sources like Reuters to websites like Yahoo. Version 2.0 of RSS allows for a type of content called an "enclosure", which is nothing but a link to a file available for download somewhere. Podcatchers simply read RSS feeds for enclosures, make note of anything new, and then download them to a directory on your local machine, ready for addition to your favorite MP3 player.

We have some options built in to our podcast RSS feed generator that allow you to control how much, or little content you see in the feed. By default, you only see up to 12 of the most recent sermons in the MP3 format. Much of our back archives of sermons are in the QuickTime format which is only playable on computers with QuickTime player installed (not portable players), so we have an option to enable seeing all formats of audio (allformats). We also have an option to control the number of sermons you'll see (max) which can be an integer number or the word "all". There is also an option (xml) to set the MIME type to "application/xhtml+xml" as may be required by specific applications. In addition, there is an option (itunes) to enable certain iTunes-specific tags in the feed and also enables the "allformats" option. Here are some example URLs that you might prefer to use with your "Podcatcher" software.

  • http://mt-olive.org/sermons/podcast.php?max=4
    This will limit the number of podcast feeds to 4 (rather than the default 12).

  • http://mt-olive.org/sermons/podcast.php?max=all&allformats=1
    This will list all the podcast feeds available in both MP3 and QuickTime formats

  • http://mt-olive.org/sermons/podcast.php?itunes&xml
    This will enable the iTunes-specific tags and list the 12 most recent podcast feeds available in both MP3 and QuickTime formats. This also sets the MIME type to XML.

For more information, send an email to Bery Rinaldo, the developer of this podcast.