60-Second Lesson on Podcasting -- EW explains the ins and outs of the latest Ipod craze

What is it?

Podcast may sound like the preferred cell-phone provider for those creepy bloodsucking aliens in War of the Worlds, but it actually refers to the latest democratizing Internet radio innovation. Pioneered in part by pouffy-haired former VJ Adam Curry, the phenomenon allows users to download free MP3-casts — made by both professionals and amateurs from around the world — and listen at their leisure. Once they’ve subscribed, new show updates are automatic. It’s like TiVo without all those pesky pictures.

Necessary accessories:

An Internet connection and anything that plays MP3s (including iPods). The newest version of iTunes and sites like Podcast.net make it easy to find programs of all sorts — or even start your own Didgeridoo Explosion hour.

Podcast picks:

With highly prohibitive laws in place against playing major-label music online, most PJs stick to lesser-known ”Pod-safe” acts. The excellent Up the Tree recently featured songs from punk stalwart Ted Leo, while the goofy Revenge of the Nerds-style hosts of The Rock and Roll Geek Show mix funny banter with tracks from cheeky hard rockers. Casey Kasem, eat your heart out.