- A computer, like a PC or a Mac.
-- Windows XP or higher preferred on PCs, or Linux; OS X for a Mac.
-- A program for listening to MP3 audio files.
- An internet connection. Cable or DSL preferred.
- Podcatching or news reader software.
- A portable player (like an iPod) is not necessary, but handy.
-- There are many smartphones with apps for podcatching also.
There are many different programs for podcatching, for both computers. Personally, I use NewsGator, which is a free website (http://www.newsgator.com) that also requires a program called FeedDemon which downloads your queued audio files. Newsgator lets you subscribe to RSS feeds, whether straight text or podcasts, and organizes them all for you.
If any podcasts have new episodes, Newsgator and FeedDemon do not automatically download the files for you. You have to mark the audio files you want. FeedDemon will then automatically download the ones you marked. I prefer this intermediate step because I subscribe to so many feeds; news, blogs, and podcasts of many kinds. If it downloaded every new audio file without me selecting, I would drown in digital discourse.
There are many other web-based readers out there, most of them are setup for podcasts, like Odeo.com. Even AOL and Yahoo have podcast channel sites. These also let you listen online.
However, if you want a program that will download all audio from all feeds you subscribe to, there are a lot to choose from. None however are as flexible and easy to use as iTunes. No, you don't have to have an iPod or even a Mac to use iTunes. There is a Windows version for download. It will also update playlists for any music player you prefer to use. For set-it-and-forget-it ease of use, iTunes is the best and it's free.