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Vol. LVIII, No. 7
April 7, 2006

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Radio News Service Begins 'Podcasting'

The National Institutes of Health is now "podcasting." The NIH Radio News Service offers biweekly "podcasts" containing information about the latest research and discoveries at NIH. You can subscribe to the podcast by logging on to — or you can take the easy route and go to and click the "Now Podcasting!" link below the NIH Radio icon.

NIH Radio with Podcasting graphic  

But what is "podcasting"? Chances are, you've heard the term before and aren't sure what it means. If you're somewhat computer-savvy, you may wonder if an iPod or some other sort of MP3 player is necessary. If you and your computer have only a nodding familiarity with each other, then maybe podcasting is what you've been doing with the husks when you're finished shelling fresh peas from the garden.

Rest assured podcasting requires neither a fancy, expensive MP3 player nor a green thumb. According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, it's a term coined in 2004 that combines the words "iPod" and "broadcasting."

How To Access a 'Podcast'

Here's how it works from the listeners' point-of-view.

First, download a "podcast aggregator" — iTunes ( is one of the most popular. Others include Juice (, NewsFire ( and you'll find a list of others on the NIH Podcasting web site.

Once you've installed your aggregator you will want to subscribe to the NIH Podcast — known as NIH Research Radio. We'll use iTunes as our example, but other aggregators have similar methods for subscribing.

First, go back to the NIH Podcasting web site and click the orange button that says NIHcast. It will take you to a scary looking page with a bunch of code that you don't even need to worry about. Go to your browser's URL window (the thing you type a web site's address into) and copy the URL — — then return to iTunes. On the left side of the screen, under Source, click Podcasts. Then, on the top left of the screen, click Advanced and then scroll down to Subscribe to Podcast and click it. When the window appears, paste the URL you copied from the NIHcast button and hit OK.

Congratulations! And welcome to the world of podcasting. Now, every time you open iTunes (or whichever aggregator you've chosen), it will check NIH Research Radio to see if there's a new podcast available since the last time you visited. If there is, it will be downloaded automatically for your listening pleasure. If you choose, you can then copy the podcast to your iPod or other MP3 player. Or you can just sit and listen on your computer.

But you don't need an iPod or anything other than a computer to subscribe and listen to podcasts. And put that Visa card away. Podcast subscriptions are free.

The first edition of NIH Research Radio hit the World Wide Web on Mar. 10. Featured stories included: a discussion on the transition of medical research from the lab to the bedside with Dr. William J. Martin, the new associate director for translational biomedicine at NIEHS; a report about the new Spanish language initiative by the National Kidney Disease Education Program with comments from Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases; and a story about how NIA's "Vital Visionaries" program is using art to debunk myths of aging, with comments by NIA deputy director Dr. Judith Salerno.

Future podcasts will include information about the NIH web site, news about an NINDS study that identified two substances that warrant further study in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and a report about a study conducted by NIEHS that showed the elderly have a higher risk for cardiovascular and respiratory disease from fine particle pollution.

A recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that more than 22 million American adults own iPods or MP3 players and 29 percent of them have downloaded podcasts from the web so that they could listen to audio files at a time of their choosing. That amounts to more than 6 million adults who have tried this new feature.

"The podcast will give us an opportunity to expand the NIH Radio News Service from its current 'short form' single-story matrix to a more comprehensive long-form feature," said Bill Schmalfeldt, Radio News Service production manager in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, OD. "Where we typically tried to keep our radio features under 2 minutes to accommodate traditional radio, the podcast will give us an opportunity to sit and chat with scientists and really delve into the research that comes out of NIH — to talk about what it means to our listeners."

In addition to the podcast, the Radio News Service also provides individual news stories on its web site ( as well as a 60-second feature called "NIH Health Matters" distributed on a monthly and quarterly basis to XM Satellite Radio and nearly 1,000 radio stations nationwide.

A new edition of NIH Research Radio will be available for download no later than the close of business on alternate Fridays — the most recent being Apr. 7. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to contact Schmalfeldt at (301) 435-7557.

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