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 http://www.nih.gov/news/radio/nihpodcast.htm — or
you can take the easy route and go to www.nih.gov and click the "Now
Podcasting!" link below the NIH Radio icon.
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."
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
How To Access a 'Podcast'
Here's how it works from the listeners' point-of-view.
First, download a "podcast aggregator" — iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/)
is one of the most popular. Others include Juice (http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/),
and you'll find a list of others on the NIH Podcasting web
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 — http://www.nih.gov/news/radio/nihpodcast.xml — 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.
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 SeniorHealth.gov
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 (www.nih.gov/news/radio)
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.