How To Play Podcasts on the Echo Dot

The Echo Dot and Alexa are always finding news ways to be helpful and integrate themselves more firmly into our lives. They can play music, turn on the lights, manage your central heat or air and even order an Uber. Ask it to play a podcast and things become a little more murky. This tutorial will show you exactly how to play podcasts on the Echo Dot.

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The steps will work on any Echo device but as I have a Dot, it’s the only I’ll use here.

Podcasts have taken over the internet in a big way. What was once a niche way of listening to someone talk science or debate politics is now a way for anyone to make themselves heard. Some are amazingly good quality and worth listening to. Some not so much. If you have a webcam or good microphone and even a basic audio mixing program, you can make your own podcast.

Play podcasts on the Echo Dot

As clever as Alexa is, the home help still has trouble managing podcasts. It mostly uses TuneIn to manage them which has hundreds of podcasts to choose from and covers most general interest podcasts. If you want to listen to something not on there, you may need to work a little to get it.

First let’s examine TuneIn.

  1. Open your Alexa app and select the Menu icon.
  2. Select Music, Video, & Books from the list and select Music.
  3. Select TuneIn from the list of services to add it.
  4. Open TuneIn within the Music menu.
  5. Select Podcasts and explore the categories or use search to find a podcast to play.
  6. Set your Echo Dot as the default playback device at the top of the TuneIn window.

You can then use voice commands as normal to play your podcasts. You could use ‘Alexa, play the program NAME,’ or ‘Alexa, play NAMED podcast on TuneIn.’ Just add the specific name where indicated. If you need to find out if TuneIn has the podcast you’re looking for, you can visit the website to see in advance. It’s easier to search here than it is through Alexa.

While TuneIn has the most podcasts, iHeartRadio has them too. You can repeat the same steps as above and switch TuneIn for iHeartRadio if the podcast you follow is on that service instead. Again, it might be easier to search for your podcast of choice on the website beforehand before using Alexa.

Shortcomings of Alexa and podcasts

If you want to play the latest podcasts with your Echo Dot, it’s a breeze. Link it up, tell Alexa what you want and it plays within seconds. However, if you just discovered a new podcast and want to listen to older ones, you’re going to struggle a bit. Alexa is not set up to retrace historical podcasts and it’s going to take a little figuring out to do that.

You can use the Alexa app to select older podcasts and play them manually. That’s okay if you don’t mind using the app but after each podcast, you will need to repeat the entire process all over again.

Or you could use AnyPod.

Use AnyPod to play podcasts on the Echo Dot

I was introduced to AnyPod a little while ago and it does for podcasts what Alexa can do for most other skills. It makes it easy to control with voice commands, which is why we bought an Echo in the first place, right?

AnyPod is an Alexa skill you can add to your Echo to supercharge how it handles podcasts. AnyPod is available from Amazon. Unlike TuneIn or iHeartRadio, AnyPod is designed from the ground up to play podcasts and makes it very easy to do so. It comes with a bunch of voice commands that makes very short work of finding and playing back your podcast of choice.

Voice commands include:

  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to play NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to subscribe to NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to unsubscribe from NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod, ‘What are my subscriptions?’”
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to play episode NUMBER of NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod for the newest or oldest episode of NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to play the next or previous episode of NAME’.
  • ‘Alexa, ask AnyPod to fast forward or rewind TIME of NAME.’

If you want to play podcasts on the Echo Dot, you have options. You can use TuneIn or iHeartRadio if they have those you listen to or AnyPod. You could also use Stitcher or other podcast app presumably but I don’t have any experience with those.

Know of any other ways to play podcasts on the Echo Dot? Tell us about them below if you do!

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