When I emigrated from the UK to New Zealand in 2001 I left behind the best public broadcaster in the world.
I'm still mourning the loss of BBC South, which produced local radio and television content 24/7 that aired alongside national radio and television programming.
I missed, the most, BBC Radio 4, with its intelligent mix of current affairs and entertainment, and BBC Radio Solent, with localised versions of the same for Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
Imagine my delight when I discovered the BBC had converted the best of its programming down the years to podcasts which are, for the most part, free to download around the world.
If you've not come across the term, podcast joins and shortens the words iPod and broadcast to create a new word that neither exclusively needs an Apple iPod personal music player or is broadcast.
Podcasts are available to anyone with a personal computer and an internet connection and can be played with media player software built into the computer's operating system.
There are, however, some restrictions on some content licensed only to UK audiences.
At bbc.co.uk/podcasts you can find all manner of podcasts from just about all areas of BBC programming.
One of my favourites is the Desert Island Discs Podcast in which interviewer Kirsty Young asks castaway celebrities to choose eight records, a book and a luxury to take with them to the mythical desert island.
Full songs will never appear on the podcast, although they are heard in full on the broadcast version, for copyright reasons.
The best thing about this podcast is just about everyone and anyone from public British life has appeared on Desert Island Discs since 1942 and the entire archive is online and free to download.
The BBC's vast array of podcasts is a great start. There's something there for everyone. Categories including children's, comedy, drama, entertainment, factual, learning, music, news, religion and ethics and sport.
They download directly to your computer as an MP3 file and you can listen to them again and again or delete them when you have finished.
The most popular way, however, is probably downloading them via Apple's free iTune's software from itunes.com and copying it to an iPad, iPod or iPhone.
Once you have found a podcast series you love within iTunes you can subscribe to the series so the next one automatically appears on your computer or your portable device.
My favourites include the New Zealand Tech Podcast hosted by iTimes contributor Paul Spain.
Microsoft offers a similar service, although its catalogue of podcasts is smaller, through its free Zune software from support.xbox.com/en-NZ/zune/software/download.
The best thing about podcasts, if you haven't discovered them yet, is that for the most part they are produced by people like you about the subjects you care about.
- © Fairfax NZ News