What It Is

Podcasting is a way of publishing MP3 audio files on the web so they can be downloaded onto computers or portable listening devices, such as iPods or other MP3 players. Podcasting allows users to subscribe to a feed of new audio files using "podcatching" software (a type of aggregator), which periodically checks for and downloads new audio files automatically. Any digital audio player or computer with audio-playing software can play podcasts. Users can also download podcasts to their desktop computer. The benefit of podcasts is that users can listen to them whenever they want.

"Podcasting" is a word that combines the words "broadcasting" and "iPod." The term can be misleading since neither podcasting nor listening to podcasts requires an iPod or any portable music player.

Why It’s Important

As you can see, there are many benefits to using podcasts. However, as with other technology, you need to offer alternative means to view the material if the technology is not widely available or accessible.

Specific Policy, Legal or Other Requirements for Doing This

There are no specific requirements for government agencies to use podcasts. Podcasts are an emerging technology that agencies can consider as an alternative way to quickly deliver news and information.

How to Implement

Creating a podcast is not very difficult. But you’ll need some specialized software before you get started. Here are the steps to place a podcast on your website:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>

<rss version="2.0">


<title>Title for your podcast</title>

<description>Description of the podcast</description>

<link>Your homepage URL</link>


<copyright>Copyright 2004</copyright>

<lastBuildDate>Fri, 31 Dec 2004 21:00:00 -0500</lastBuildDate>

<pubDate>Fri, 31 Dec 2004 21:00:00 -0500</pubDate>

<docs>RSS directory</docs>

<webMaster>webmaster e-mail address</webMaster>

<item> <!--now comes your items, like in any RSS feed -->

<title>Item title</title>


<description>Description of specific podcast episode</description>

<enclosure url=”http://www.mysite.gov/podcasts/dec_03.mp3" length=" 4989537 " type="audio/mpeg"/>


<pubDate>Fri, 31 Dec 2004 21:00:00 -0500</pubDate>




Notice the only real difference between the above and a normal RSS feed listing is the <enclosure> element that is a part of each <item> element, and the <link> element of each <item> points to the MP3 file containing your audio broadcast (as opposed to an html page).

The format for the enclosure element is:

<enclosure url=”URL for the MP3 containing your audiocast” length=”size of mp3 file, in bytes” type=”audio/mpeg for mp3 files”/>

To get the size of the MP3 in bytes, in Windows, right click the file and select properties. The size of the file in bytes will be shown in parenthesis. Please note, you do not enter commas when entering the value into the length attribute.

Screenshot of sample file properties


Again, this assumes you understand RSS feeds. If the above doesn’t make sense, you can visit our page on RSS feeds to find out more.

Special Note on Podcast Feed Syntax for iTunes: To make a podcast “iTunes Music Store friendly” you must add iTunes-specific code to your feed. This code does not impact the ability of other podcast applications to process your feed. See the resources section below for a link to iTunes publishing information.

Use Common Terminology

There’s not yet a standard convention for displaying or naming podcast pages. Currently, government and commercial websites use different icons used to display podcast links.

The benefit of using standard URLs and common terminology is that it helps the public find information and services across government websites.



(See our disclaimer for non-government links)


Page Updated or Reviewed: February 11, 2008