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All you need to know about podcasts

Recording the National Trust Podcast at Divis & The Black Mountain, Northern Ireland
A National Trust podcast on a mobile device | © National Trust Images/Steven Hanna

If you’re new to the world of podcasts, or wondering if they’re for you, we’ve put together some answers to frequently asked questions to help you get started, and to fill you in on why the National Trust has got involved in this digital trend.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is simply an audio programme – similar to a radio show. The difference being that instead of listening to them live you can stream or download them via your computer or smartphone and listen whenever you like.

It’s much easier to create and distribute a podcast than it is to get a show on the radio, making it a very accessible way for people to share their views and interests with their preferred audiences.

As a listener this offers you a much wider range of content to listen to, from popular topics to more niche subjects.

Why is the National Trust making podcasts?

National Trust podcasts offer our supporters a more in-depth look at the places and objects in our care, and insights from the people who look after them.

We’ve got plenty of fascinating stories left to tell, so why not tune in for a listen?

How do I listen to podcasts?

Podcast platforms

You can listen and subscribe to podcasts (including ours) for free via podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

You can either stream episodes online or download them to your computer or mobile device to listen to whenever it suits you.

Via a website

One way to listen to podcasts is via a web browser like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge. You can do this on a computer, or by using the web browser on your smartphone or tablet.

Step one is to find a website that has podcasts you’re interested in. National Trust podcasts are available on the aforementioned Apple and Spotify platforms, and you can also listen to some episodes via our own website.

Once you’ve chosen a site, simply search for the podcast you’d like to listen to (e.g, National Trust podcast).

To stream an episode, just navigate to the episode you want to listen to, check your device’s sound is switched on, and click play to listen.

Some websites will also offer the option to download episodes to your computer or device – look out for a link that says ‘download’, or an icon that looks like a downwards arrow.

Hydro podcast recording at Cragside, Northumberland
Hydro podcast recording at Cragside, Northumberland | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Via an app on your phone or tablet

There are many podcast apps available to download via the app store on your smartphone or tablet. Apple Podcasts and Spotify all have apps, or you could try another platform (see our list further below).

Once you’ve downloaded an app you can start searching for podcasts to listen to. All you need to do is:

• Open the podcasts app, search for the name of the podcast you’re interested in (e.g., National Trust podcast) and tap it.
• From the show’s series page, tap the 'subscribe' or 'follow' button to receive notifications whenever a new episode is released.
• Tap the name of an episode in the list to listen to it.

Via smart speakers

Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google Nest are another option for listening to podcasts.
If you have a smart speaker installed in your home, all you need to do is ask it to ‘Play the National Trust Podcast’ (or other podcast of choice) and it will automatically start streaming the most recent episode.

What's the difference between downloading and streaming?


When you download a podcast episode, the audio file is physically stored on your phone or computer, so if you end up somewhere without a Wi-Fi or 4G signal you’ll be able to keep listening uninterrupted. Downloading podcasts will take up storage space on your device.


With streaming the audio file is stored online, so doesn't take up room on your device. When you hit play, the content is broadcast to your device in real time. You'll need to be connected to the internet (i.e., via Wi-Fi or mobile data) to do so.

Recording the National Trust Podcast at Divis & The Black Mountain, Northern Ireland
Recording the National Trust Podcast at Divis & The Black Mountain, N.Ireland | © National Trust Images/Steven Hanna

Which podcasts app should I use?

There are many podcast apps available for both Apple and Android devices. These are some of the most popular choices:

Apple Podcasts (iOS/Web)

The most popular and established podcast app and directory, but unfortunately not available for Android. (Free)

Pocket Casts (Android/iOS/Web)

A popular, feature-rich and user-friendly podcast player and directory that rivals the dominance of Apple Podcasts. (Free)

Overcast (iOS)

Another podcast app and directory that offers a good alternative to Apple’s. It’s particularly known for its minimal and customisable layout. (Free/paid subscription to remove ads)

Spotify (Android/iOS/Web)

Primarily a music streaming service, but in recent years podcasts have become a big part of their offering. A great choice if you want to keep all your audio in one place, rather than switching between apps. (Free/paid subscription to remove ads)

BBC Sounds (Android/iOS/Web)

BBC Sounds offers podcasts, live and on-demand radio, music mixes and audio books produced by the BBC. They also offer a small selection of podcasts from non-BBC producers. (Free)

How do I discover podcasts that I like?

At the time of writing, there are well over 1 million podcasts in existence, and that number continues to grow. This huge range of options means you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one podcast you love, if not several.

Here are our top three tips to help you find a podcast that’s right for you:

In-app recommendations

The podcast app or website that you use will likely have a list of the newest, most popular or recommended podcasts on the front page. If you want recommendations that are a bit more bespoke, then most apps also allow you to search for podcasts by theme or category.

Lists in the media

As podcasts grow in popularity, the media has started to produce reviews and ‘top 10’-style lists which can be a great way to discover new podcasts. Flip through your favourite magazine, take a look at the culture section of your favourite newspaper, or search through related blogs and websites, and you’re sure to find some gems.

Ask your friends and family

It’s hard to beat a personal recommendation when you’re looking for a new podcast. Your friends and family know your interests, so this is a great way to find podcasts you’ll come to cherish. Make sure to share your recommendations with them in return.

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