One of the hot topics in the blog world these days is Podcasting.
Podcasting is a way to automatically get MP3 files from the internet down to your portable device (doesn't have to be an iPod, or even a portable - it works just as well on a desktop). It's built on the same RSS technology that weblogs use, but instead of just passing text, it also passes MP3 files as enclosures.
In other words, with the proper application, you can subscribe to audio the same way you subscribe to blogs now. I hope you subscribe to blogs, as reading in an Aggregator is much nicer than going to the web page.
iPodder is the only one application that I know of that supports podcasting right now. There's a windows version, though it uses an impressively bad amount of memory and tends to be a bit flakey (on my system inside the corporate firewall, at least), but the price is right.
The iPodder folks also host a podcast directory, so you can find out what's available.
I've been playing around with this for a few weeks, and have a few comments.
First, the technological aspects are pretty cool. I like to listen to Car Talk, but I'm often busy on weekends when it's on. I can go to their website, navigate around to find the streaming content, and then listen, but it would be a lot cooler if an MP3 showed up on my system (or on my iRiver) automatically. This seems like a natural fit for NPR, and expect to see them move in this direction, though there could be some issues WRT local stations and revenue. NPR is, after all, still a business.
The social aspects are more interesting, but not really clear (to me at least) at this point. There's definitely the potential to make an "end run" around the FCC and the RIAA and send content directly to the people - and I like the freedom of expression that that provides. There's also the chance for the "Indies" to provide edited new music directly to portable devices - to provide an "iPod channel" to the youth. Given that connectedness of today's teens, this could be pretty big.