Podcasting makes time shifting downloadable audio or video a piece of cake, as long as you have the right tools. At the most basic level, you subscribe to a broadcast channel using iPodder, which watches for updates to the channel and automatically downloads new files to your PC or Mac.
At the moment, full automation of the process is the process is possible only when using iPodder in combination with Mac OS X, iTunes, and an iPod. In the Mac OS X scenario, iPodder not only downloads new content, it automatically transfers the content to an iPod connected to the Mac. iPod owners connecting via Windows get automatic downloads, automatic population of the content in iTunes, but must manually initiate the transfer from PC to iPod.
If you don't have an iPod (which probably means you also aren't using iTunes), the auto-download still works, but there's no interaction with Windows Media Player at this point, and there's no automated transfer of content to any non-iPod portable device.
With millions of devices able to receive audio content automatically through Windows Media Player. (Pocket PC, Rio Karma, Creative MuVo, Creative Zen PMC and Dell DJ are just the devices I own that fit this description), it's only a matter of time before we see an iPodder client with software media player independence. In the meantime, using the autoplaylist feature of Windows Media Player 10, combined with Auto-synchronization is an easy hack for streamlining the process. In fact, this hack is more fully automatic than the Windows/iTunes/iPod solution.
For more on podcasting, learn about Receiving A Podcast on a PC