Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last year, you've probably at least heard the term "podcasting." While the term refers to sending downloadable MP3 files to portable music players such as the iPod, you don't need to own an iPod to listen to or even create your own podcasts.

With the release of Apple's latest version of iTunes, which allows you to search for podcasts, the genre is taking off like wildfire. Thousands of people are creating their own, and that number may soon grow into the millions.

So you want to jump on the bandwagon, but don't know how to get started? Read on to learn about recording and producing podcasts of your very own.

A podcast is essentially just an audio file, usually in mp3 format. To get started you're going to need a microphone, software to record sound from that microphone, and possibly a mixer if you want to record more than one sound at a time. You will also need software to publish your podcast on the Internet.

All in all, this is a fairly simple process. The hardest part of getting started is deciding what you need, while keeping your budget in mind. Some people prefer "guerilla podcasting," which can make the most of free tools, while others prefer a more professional approach. On the one hand, the file is going to be an MP3, which has limits in terms of sonic quality to begin with. On the other hand, if your recording sounds like junk, will people even listen to it?