Tune In to a Disney Podcast (or Podcasts 101)
by Michelle Scribner-MacLean, ALL EARS® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the September 18, 2007 Issue #417 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
If you're an AllEars® fan, you're probably pretty tech-savvy — you have probably gotten your Disney "fix" by going online to find out anything and everything about the Most Magical Place on Earth via websites, and you may have even posted to a Disney online forum.
I'm a tech-savvy person, too, and for years have been using websites such as AllEars® to get up-to-date Disney info, but for me Disney podcasts have opened up a whole new way to get connected to all things Disney. However, I've run into many people who don't know what podcasts are or how to get them, and may not be aware of all the wonderful Disney podcasts that are available to help them. So, if you're one of those who doesn't know what a podcast is, I'm here to help you.
Podcasts are audio digital files that can be played on your computer, on many models of handheld computers and cell phones, and on your iPod/iPhone or other digital player. You can listen to individual podcasts, but you can also "subscribe" to them. These subscriptions are usually free and are automatically downloaded to your computer so they will be waiting for you when you're ready to play them. In addition to podcasts, there are enhanced podcasts (audio digital files that have graphics and website links embedded in them), and video podcasts or vodcasts.
What does this mean for a Disney fan? It means that you have access to hours and hours of audio and video about The Mouse. Fan-produced Disney podcasts have exploded during the past few years. At last year's MouseFest, about 20 podcasters attended a Podfest meet, and Lou Mongello of the WDW Radio Show has announced plans for another Podfest meet at this year's event. The great news for Disney fans is that there are podcasts to fit any type of listener. Podcasts can run from just a few minutes, to 15-20 minutes a few times a week, to some that are more than 90 minutes.
Who Produces Disney Podcasts?
Whether you want to listen occasionally, a few times a week, or every day, there is a podcast to meet your needs. And just like there is a wide variety of DJs on your local radio station, there are dozens of Disney podcaster personalities, ranging from those who broadcast alone, to teams of podcasters working together, to teams of podcasters who banter as they share their Disney expertise. If you're a Disney fan, you're sure to find some podcasting personalities who will suit your style.
The amazing thing is that, by and large, the people who produce these podcasts do it mostly because they enjoy sharing their love of Disney and their expertise with other people. Having put together simple podcasts for online courses, I can tell you that producing podcasts takes a lot of work — and these Disney podcasters volunteer their time, not for the fame, glory, and a big paycheck (there is not much of any of that), but because they really want to perform a service for other Disney fans. Some podcasts are endorsed by advertisers, but their podcasts are not laden with ads (it's usually just a brief blurb and worth it, in my opinion, if it helps offset the cost of putting these podcasts together).
What's on a Podcast?
OK, so now I may have piqued your interest a bit… but you're wondering what is on a typical podcast? This varies as much as the people who put them together. There are interviews with Disney experts, authors, touring plan gurus, Disney webmasters, and travel agents. Some feature an overview of a different topic for every show, while others explore many different topics. There are reviews galore: books, restaurants, resorts, and Disney movie reviews. Some shows explore the history of Disney parks and rides. Many shows also feature segments in which the hosts answer listener questions, often doing the "legwork" to help listeners figure out which is the best time to go to Disney, ticketing options, which rides are best for kids of certain ages, or what the perfect restaurant is for an upcoming special occasion. Virtually every Disney topic worth discussing will pop up on one of these podcasts (and, as fans, we all know that we never run out of topics when we're talking about Disney).
How to Listen or Subscribe
Now that you know a bit about what podcasts are, let's talk about how you can listen or subscribe to one. Many of the podcasts also have web pages with links back to the podcasts — you can often click on the link listed and listen online (and you don't have to download a thing). On these web pages you'll also find links to subscribe via free desktop podcast receiver programs (or podcatchers) such as iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/), which is compatible with both Macs and PCs, or PodNova (www.podnova.com). In the search window, type in "Disney" or the name of the podcast that you're interested in. After your search results pop up, you can click on individual episodes or click on the "subscribe" button. Subscribing means that every time a podcaster makes an episode available, it will automatically download to your iTunes music library. After I listen to a podcast, I delete it (so that it doesn't fill up my hard drive). If you want to remove the podcast (and not subscribe), just click on the title of the podcast and delete and iTunes will stop your subscription. I download the episodes onto my iPod and listen while I'm exercising or when traveling by plane (on my way to Disney, of course). I also listen in my car (you can buy an inexpensive adapter for your iPod, which broadcasts your audio files onto your car's stereo) — spending time in traffic was never so much fun!
Overview of Podcasts
First a disclaimer: there are dozens and dozens of podcasts. I've listened to many, but not all of them. I've chosen to describe a few that have different attributes, but you may have your own favorite that I've left off. Here are a few that I've come to enjoy.
Hosts: Matt Hochberg, Mike Newell, Len Testa, Mike Scopa
Frequency: three times/week
Duration: about 20 minutes/episode
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.wdwtoday.com/
WDW Today features different topics in every episode. The hosts are fun and informative — they joke around and have a general good time as they share their expertise of all things Disney, answer listener mail, and host a variety of guests. I like this podcast because episodes are short, topic-specific, and the rapport of the hosts makes you feel like you're hanging out with four of your pals at a coffee shop discussing your favorite topic.
WDW Radio Show
Host: Lou Mongello
Duration: around 90 minutes/episode
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.wdwradio.com/
As author of the Walt Disney World Trivia books, Lou Mongello knows his Disney, and it's evident in this podcast, but it's much more than a trivia show. Lou hosts a variety of Disney expert guests and Disney legends, but my favorite shows are where he explores the history of both current and "extinct" attractions (remember Horizons in Epcot?). Lou's passion for sharing his Disney knowledge is evident in his podcast.
Hosts: Mark Goldhaber and Mike Demopoulos
Frequency: about three times/week
Duration: about 30 minutes
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.mouseplanet.com/misc.php?pg=podcast
Connected to the popular MousePlanet.com website, this podcast features Disney news and commentary for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
The DIS Unplugged
Hosts: Pete Werner, Bob Varley, Corey Martin, Julie Martin, Kevin Klose and John Magi
Duration: 30 – 90 minutes
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-podcast/
This team of podcasters offers a friendly roundtable approach to answer listener questions, and to offer Disney news and general useful Disney information.
Mouse Guest Weekly
Hosts: Eric and Dan
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.mouseguest.com/
This laid-back duo shares news, trivia, and Disney clips. The graphics on their accompanying website are fantastic. The site also features fun tournaments where Disney fans choose favorite characters or attractions.
Inside the Magic
Host: Ricky Brigante
Duration: 30 – 90 minutes
Subscribe via iTunes or http://www.distantcreations.com/insidethemagic/
This Orlando-based podcast features up-to-date info about park news and events. Occasionally he'll upload vodcasts of special parties, rides, and events.
This is only a sample of the fan-produced podcasts. Some have been around for more than two years (and have produced several hundred shows) and others have been around for a short time. In addition, there are more than 10 Disney-produced podcasts, featuring everything from brief park updates to the latest news on High School Musical 2. These are also available for free download via iTunes.
So, as a Disney fan, there is a podcast out there to fit any type of personality. One thing is sure — there are plenty of ways to get your Disney fix, so go ahead and check it out.
Other AllEars® articles by Michelle Scribner-MacLean:
Vero Beach with Kids: http://www.allears.net/ae/issue403.htm
Navigating WDW with a Picky Eater: http://www.allears.net/ae/issue395.htm
Science in the Parks: http://www.allears.net/ae/issue390.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.