Chapter 1: Podcasting Growth, Trends, Landscape

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the growth and trends in podcasting {graphs}
  • How to listen to a podcast
  • Where to find podcasts {examples}
  • Who is podcasting?
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Chapter 1: Podcasting Growth, Trends, Landscape

Podcasters tell stories. So do numbers.

Worldwide the number of podcasts in 2023 is considered to be between two to five million.

But of course, numbers are always complicated.

The Apple Podcasts catalog lists 2.5 million podcasts while Spotify says they have 5 million podcasts, according to a January 13, 2023 app notification reported by Podnews. These differing numbers reflect the podcast directory being used. Podcast Index, which is primarily built from discovering open podcast RSS feeds on the web, says there are more than 4 million podcasts.  The Index is an alternative podcast directory to Apple and offers free open access. It was launched by ‘The Podfather’ Adam Curry, who co-authored the text that allows podcasting to exist.

An estimated 64% of these podcasts are considered active – meaning they have published an episode in the last 90 days.

While the growth of podcasting has been surging in the past decade, fewer podcasts were created in 2022 than in the previous two years, according to data from Chartr from Listen Notes.

The Podcast Juggernaut

All these numbers can be overwhelming but it’s useful to know some of these metrics as a way of understanding the birth and growth of the podcasting industry. Born in the early 2000s, today nearly 80% of the American public is familiar with the term podcasting – even though they may be confused about exactly what it is.

In 2022 the number of people who had ever listened to a podcast increased to well over half the population – 62% of the American public or 177 million people, according to The Infinite Dial 2022 from Edison Research. The longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America conducted a nationwide telephone survey in January in English and Spanish, using random digit dialing techniques to call both cell phones and landlines.

Active listeners have nearly doubled over the last four years, fueled by the growth in smartphones, smart speakers, and in-dash entertainment systems.

Talking & Listening Slowed Post-Covid

Those numbers show phenomenal growth in the digital medium, but by the halfway point in 2022, the pace of new podcasts had plummeted 80% from a year ago with the marketplace settling down to a post-pandemic world.

Even though more people are listening to podcasts and there’s more content than ever before, there’s been a drop in the number of weekly listeners in 2022 compared to the year before, which saw a listening increase in double-digits. That’s a direct result of the disruption in behavior over the past two years during the covid pandemic.

In a whacky 2021, a lot of casual listeners sampled podcasting but then left to return to work and school duties once covid restrictions started to ease. The most significant listening drop occurred in the 12-34 age category, according to the research.

But despite some handwringing over the 5% drop in listenership from the previous annual study, Edison researchers say a quarterly report from Share of Ear®, a national survey of 4,000 Americans 13+, provides some evidence the reduction “does not equate to the arrival of the pod-pocalypse,” said Gabriel Soto. There has been a bounce back in listening in the younger age group. The diary study is a national sample of daily podcast listening, while the Infinite Dial’s is a monthly estimate.

Big Cities vs Small Towns

Podcast listening is far more prevalent in big cities. Monthly podcast listening in America’s small cities and rural areas lags behind listening in both large cities and suburbs by about 25%, which is a void that creators could decide to fill.

Podcasts Are The Future Of Storytelling

A powerful argument can be made that podcasting is the future of storytelling — it’s personal because you are directly talking to the listener.

Podcasting is also considered more trustworthy than traditional media, according to a study by Media Monitors. The medium took center stage as breathtaking world and domestic events occurred – a global pandemic, protests over racial injustice, economic recession, a violent attack against the U.S. Capitol, elections, and widespread calamity from climate change – all helping to spark a public hunger for information and entertainment.

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The stories can be powerful and engaging if there are great interviews, writing, and sound production. They can both reflect and lead the conversations with people sharing their experiences.

Misinformation in Podcasting 

However, the podcast ecosystem can no longer escape scrutiny for playing a part in spreading false or misleading information. Star podcaster Joe Rogan questioned the risks of vaccines for healthy young people and took lots of heat before he backtracked and said he’s “not an anti-vax person.”

With 11 million listeners his reach is massive and influential. He has hosted guests like Alex Jones of Infowars and others who have promoted coronavirus misinformation regarding the virus, vaccines, and treatment – which created lots of headaches for Spotify. The company subsequently pulled multiple episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which is Spotify’s No. 1 podcast.

But the problem is bigger than Rogan according to Valerie Wirtschafter at The Brookings Institution, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. Her study of popular political podcasts concludes that one-tenth contain potentially false information. Since podcasts operate via RSS feeds, no federal license is needed so anyone can be a publisher/broadcaster. She calls the medium “an ideal tool to inject false or misleading information into the mainstream discourse while going undetected.”

Calls for Advocacy

While mainstream news media organizations tend to be straightforward in dealing with fact-based content, independent podcasters can feel the need to advocate for causes in content and advertisements. After the U.S. Supreme Court ended 50 years of abortion rights, podcasters used the platform to share resources and organized language for host-read ads in opposition to the decision. BIPOC podcast creators stated a social initiative supporting those affected.

Podcast Play-For-Pay?

In an era when social media influences get paid for mentioning brands, Bloomberg journalist Ashley Carmen discovered what she calls, “the golden era of pay-for-play podcasting when guests pay handsomely to be interviewed.” Carmen reports that one podcaster took in $50,000. It’s not known how widespread the practice is but it’s “most popular among podcasts in the wellness, cryptocurrency, and business arenas.”

Such payments can be a problem if the audience is not told about guests paying for a show appearance and Carmen says the money can go both ways – with a podcaster paying for an interview with a special guest. The online platform Guestio brokers such deals.

However, some shows like Entrepreneurs on Fire do put disclosures about sponsor payments at the end of the show.

Podcasting Born Out Of Adversity

While podcasting experienced pandemic disruptions in production just like the rest of the world, the media format stood out with fresh content.

Sarah Van Mosel, the chief revenue officer at the podcast network Stitcher, says “podcasting was born from adversity.” She told Hot Pod newsletter that some of the bigger podcasts today, such as WTF with Marc Maron and 99% Invisible, were created just after the 2007-2009 economic recession. Van Mosel calls podcasts the “scrappy survivors” of the media industry.

When Did Podcasts Start?

The word podcast comes from the words “pod” as in iPod and “broadcast.” It was in 2005 that the Oxford Dictionary named “podcast” as its word of the year after journalist Ben Hammersley coined the term the year before.

In the early days, podcasts mostly came from radio corporations such as NPR, looking for new ways to distribute programming. Traditionally, a podcast has been defined as a digital audio file available on the internet that can be downloaded on a computer or digital device and is automatically received by subscribers.

But today, listeners are discovering podcasts in multiple ways, including YouTube and Facebook Live rather than podcast apps. However, in a keynote speech at the Podcast Movement conference, then Edison VP Tom Webster said that if it’s not downloadable and not on a podcast device it’s not a podcast.

The Boom Years Podcast

The boom years for podcasting began in 2014 with the launch of “Serial,” spun off from public radio’s “This American Life.” Serial’s true-crime podcast focused on the 1999 murder of a 15-year-old girl from Baltimore.

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A former high school boyfriend named Adnan Syed was convicted of the crime and spent 23 years in prison. However, the Serial podcast shined a light on the case, and in September 2022 a Baltimore Circuit Court Judge vacated the conviction and Syed was set free. Then in another flip in the case, a Maryland appellate court reinstated the conviction in March 2023, deciding the victim’s family did not have enough time to attend a hearing case in person. Another review of the case will decide how both sides will proceed so it’s unclear whether Syed will remain free.

How Do You Listen To Podcasts?

Audiences can listen on a computer by going to a podcast’s website.

However, most people listen on their smartphones and subscribe to a show on a podcasting app — also called podcatchers  — like the ones built into smartphones.

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When listeners “subscribe” to a podcast, new episodes are downloaded automatically into the digital device. Most of the time podcasts are free but some consumers confuse the term “subscribe” to mean they would pay as they would for a Netflix subscription.

In your car, you can listen on a Bluetooth device and for television, a streaming device such as Roku or Apple TV works with an app like Tune In, Spotify, or iHeartRadio.

There also are streaming platforms like Pandora that allow you to listen to podcasts that have their own station, such as This American Life. Technically, because the podcast is streamed rather than heard via an RSS feed, it’s not a podcast. However, Tom Webster of Edison Research makes the point that “people don’t care,” how sites technically talk to each other.”

Where Do You Find Podcasts?

First, most people ask their friends, family, and colleagues. According to a survey of podcast listeners by Podcast Host, people have the most influence in discovering and promoting new podcasts via recommendations on social media and online communities.

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Any podcast app will have a library of podcast shows categorized alphabetically or by genre, with Apple Podcasts and Spotify being two of the more popular listening platforms.  Some surveys claim that Spotify is now the most widely used podcast platform.

Podcast Apps

  • Apple Music should be your first stop because other apps pull from Apple.
  • Spotify is moving up quickly and is dominant in some countries.
  • Google has about 2% of the audience. Its advantage is Google search.
  • Stitcher is good for Android users with about 2% of podcast plays; free and premium subscription.
  • TuneIn is used by Amazon Alexa-powered speakers and Tesla cars.
  • Podnews has a list of host services and how to add your podcast to every podcast directory.

Where To Find Podcast Recommendations

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Diversity In Listening

Beyond the explosion in growth, the podcast space is an emerging success story in diversity. While White listeners still dominate there have been very strong gains with Hispanic/Latino listeners and with Black listeners over the past decade.

“In the near quarter of a century that the Infinite Dial has been the survey of record for digital audio, the space has never been more vibrant, or more diverse, than it is today,” said Edison’s Tom Webster. “Podcasting, in particular, has made great gains with women and non-White audiences, and truly reflects the diversity of America.” 

Black Podcast Listener Report

Podcast listening among Black Americans is surging according to the first-ever report on Black podcast listeners by Edison Research.

Some 36% of Black Americans listen to podcasts every month and most fans say they would listen more if there were more Black hosts, stories, and perspectives. Social media is the number one way they discover podcasts.

Latino Podcast Report

In 2021, over one-third of U.S. Latinos have listened to a podcast in the past month which is a whopping 44% increase over the previous year. Over half of the listeners say they began listening during the pandemic and most prefer to listen to podcasts with a video component.

What Age Groups Listen Most?

While podcast listening continues to be largest in the teen to young adult 12-34 age category, those numbers dipped the most as life started to return to normal after covid.

While the 55+ age bracket still lags behind other age groups, numbers are growing and expected to surge as technology makes podcasts easier to access through mobile devices such as a phone, tablets, smart speakers  Siri, Alexa and Google, and new cars with built-in internet access.

The Gender Gap Narrows in Podcast Listening

There is still a gender gap in podcasting listening with the figures showing that 41% of men listened to a podcast last month compared to 36% of women. Despite listening numbers being down slightly compared to the previous year, there is a clear trend of increased listening by women.

Who Are The Podcast Creators?

However, it’s a much different story on gender when it comes to the creation of podcasts – which is nearly 70% male. The gender gap is especially stark when you consider that women are more than half the U.S. population. This first credible study of creators comes from Sound Profitable in partnership with Edison Research.

In terms of age, the largest number of creators are those in the 25-44 age group, while those in the 55+ demographic barely exist. This can be a new opportunity for both creators and advertisers.

In ethnicity, the numbers of creators are more in line with the overall U.S. population for Whites, African Americans, and Asians, while Latino creators are growing significantly.

The data on education levels for creators does not look like the average American since 40% of creators have an advanced degree, which leads to higher levels of employment and higher income. Analysts point out that this makes the creator class more privileged than the general public, which can impact content creation.

Listeners Average Eight Podcasts A Week

Edison Research says the average podcast listener consumed eight podcast episodes a week, with a good number of consumers doing far more listening than that. Hard-core listeners are consuming 12 or more podcasts a week, while medium listeners hear three to six podcasts weekly and the casual listener one to two shows.

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Podcast “super listeners,” spend an average of 11.2 hours listening to podcasts weekly, up from the previous two years according to Edison Research. Over half of this group ever listen to podcasts through YouTube, often discovering new podcasts through the platform.

What Are The Most Popular Content Genres?

In the U.S. the most popular genres are comedy, news, and true crime, followed by sports and health/fitness.

For Generation Z (those born between 1997-2012), Spotify found a significant trend among young listeners between 18 and 24, choosing to listen to mental health-related podcasts. The information is taken from Spotify’s Culture Next Trends Report, which relies on data gathered from its platform. The demographic group has also sought more diverse content from more diverse creators.

News Podcasts Punch Above Their Weight

The latest available figures show that daily newscasts made up less than 1% of all podcasts in 2020 but they accounted for more than 10% of overall downloads in the U.S. according to a Reuters Institute study.

That tracks with a report from the Pew Research Center that says about a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) say they get their news, at least sometimes, from podcasts. Young people are the largest demographic with one-in-three adults ages 18 to 29 saying they sometimes get news from podcasts. Still, more than half of Americans (56%) say they never get their news from podcasts, which means there is still significant growth potential.

The New York Times is building an audio empire by buying audio companies and adding more podcasts. The Daily, news podcast has been downloaded more than three billion times, with some 20 million people listening monthly. The show is credited with driving the growth of news podcasts which attracts a younger and better-educated audience than traditional media. The Times will also launch a new shorter daily news podcast called “The Headlines.” It is being tested in beta via a new app, called “New York Times Audio.” In addition to podcasts, the app will have audio features curated by Times journalists.

There’s even more competition to NPR’s News Now, with a 10-minute news podcast from Reuters World News and The Washington Post launched “The 7,” in late 2022, which explores the seven more important or interesting news stories of the day in a five-to-six minute time span.

NPR’s daily news podcast, Up First, took home The Ambie for “best news podcast” for 2022 and has been in Podtrac’s top 20 podcasts for 60 consecutive months.

Deep Dive News Podcasts Worldwide

But, according to the Reuters Digital News Report 2022, there are danger signs ahead for the journalism world as the proportion of news consumers who say they avoid the news has grown sharply worldwide. Respondents say this selective avoidance is because news has a negative impact on their mood and because of concerns over false and misleading news.

True Crime, Investigations

True crime and investigative podcasts are among the more popular venues that are having a larger impact on society and local communities. Interest in true crime is driven by the basic human emotion of fear, according to criminologists – allowing people to experience fears without the consequences of actual trauma.


Both genres are expensive to produce and time-consuming to create because this kind of watchdog journalism can take weeks, months and even years to come to fruition.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop (IRW) at American University in Washington, D.C., has a curated list of investigative podcasts. IRW managing editor Lynne Perri took a look at how investigative reporters develop their stories for audio. “I believe investigative journalism is really like you are solving a mystery,” said LA Times reporter Joanne Faryon.

What American Cities Listen Most?

Nielsen Reports has a breakdown of cities by market size that have the largest number of residents who listen to podcasts, with the latest report based on 2019 figures.

Podcasts Popular Worldwide?

Around the globe, podcast creation and listening have also exploded according to the Reuters Institute of Digital News Report. In Ireland, which has a strong audio tradition, one-in-three adults listen to a podcast each month and listening is also strong in Sweden, the home of Spotify.

Courtesy Reuters Institute & Oxford University

Among English-speaking countries, the U.S. lags behind podcast consumption levels in Canada, the UK and Australia based on a percentage of the population.

What Are The Most Used Audio Platforms?

The battle among audio brands for top listening rights shows big growth for Spotify and YouTube Music.

Spotify is being helped by its podcast acquisitions; Amazon is helped by the use of more smart speakers and voice-assisted technology; and Pandora and YouTube are helped by being cross-platform — music, video and podcast apps that work in several operating systems.

TREND: Podcasting Is No Fluke

The power and reach of the medium are so pervasive that the U.S. Library of Congress is adding podcasts to its archive “as part of its mission to collect and preserve sound recordings,” and is contacting selected podcasters to seek permission to add their shows. The Library also offers its own extensive series of podcasts.

Podcasts are also now proving to be a gold mine for Hollywood with a number of shows adapted to the television screen. In an interview with Deadline, ICM executive Caroline Edwards says if you have a successful show then chances are good that someone will want to turn it into a TV or film project. “This side of the business blew up after the success of Homecoming and Dirty John, which makes it a very exciting time to play in this space.”

TREND: Top Podcast Honors

Podcasts on radio stations, broadcast and cable networks, newspapers, magazines and online publications are now being recognized at the highest level of excellence.

The best investigative podcasts expose injustices and right wrongs.

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In 2020, the Pulitzer Prize Board added a new category for Audio Reporting. The first Pulitzer was awarded to “This American Life” for its reporting on the personal impact of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

NPR took home the second-ever Pulitzer for Audio Reporting for an investigative report about some Iowa-based gun rights advocates, looking at how two brothers used social media to try and eliminate gun regulations in America.

In 2022 journalism’s highest honor went to a podcast about juveniles sentenced to spend their whole lives in prison. Suave was produced by two non-profits, Futuro Media and PRX. The U.S. is the only country in the world that allows juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and the podcast tells the story of one man’s redemption.

The Peabody Awards, which reward excellence in news to entertainment programming, honored groundbreaking investigative podcasts such as  SerialS-Town, and In the Dark by American Public Media.

In season one, Peabody Award-winning journalist Madeleine Baran documented how police mishandled a child abduction. The murder of a small-town Minnesota boy led to the creation of the national sex-offender database. The New York Times profiled this series, which producers call “investigative reporting on the criminal justice system.”

In season two, the focus of the podcast turned to Curtis Flowers, a black Mississippi death row inmate who had been tried six times for the same crime. The series became the first podcast honored by the George Polk Award, which recognizes excellence by investigative reporters.

In 2022, Peabody awarded two major news organizations that covered hot-button political and social issues in their podcasts. NPR won for a three-part miniseries, “Throughline:Afghanistan:The Center of the World,” and NBC News for “Southlake” which shined a light on race and critical race theory.

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WNYC Studios’ Radiolab became the first podcast to win multiple two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards – one for the story of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay and another about the 136-year history of Mississippi’s state flag.

The U.S. Supreme Court

In 2019 the In The Dark podcast also prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to review and throw out Flowers murder conviction.  A new trial was ordered after the investigative unit of American Public Media uncovered evidence of a pattern of racist jury selection by the prosecutor. After 23 years, Flowers is now a free man after the Mississippi attorney general dropped state charges against him. The show won top journalism honors including the Peabody, George Polk, and Edward R. Murrow awards.

But, in a shocking move, In the Dark was canceled in May 2022 as a result of cost-cutting. Fortunately, that proved to be short-lived and The New Yorker has picked up the nationally acclaimed investigative podcast. It’s the magazine’s most ambitious move into long-form audio journalism.

TREND: Consolidation & Big Media Investment

Meanwhile, the media landscape of podcasting has seen stunning investment and consolidation.

To reach 50% of weekly podcast consumers a year ago you would have needed to advertise on the top seven podcast networks. Today you can reach that number on just four podcast networks, according to analyst John Sullivan.

The Swedish company, Spotify, has spent a billion dollars buying studios, publishers, and advertising tech in the forms of Anchor, Megaphone, Podsights, Chartable. Spotify’s megabuck podcast deals included “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Bill Simmons “The Ringer,” and Barstool’s “Call Her Daddy,” among others. They also paid $340 million to buy podcast networks Gimlet Media and Anchor in a bid to be the world’s largest audio platform, bringing with it a huge base of young listeners from the world’s biggest streaming-music company. However, Bloomberg says only 14% of podcasts currently earn the company money.

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM acquired podcast producer Team Coco and its podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend,” for a reported $150 million. The company is also home to“The Howard Stern Show,” and owns the music-streaming service Pandora.

The New York Times bought the production company behind “Serial” for $25 million. The award-winning podcast exceeded 20 million downloads in season one and is widely credited with kickstarting the mass appeal of podcasts. The purchase gets the Times further into audio storytelling; its news podcast “The Daily” is consistently at the top of podcast charts.

TREND: Race & Gender Barriers Coming Down 

Underrepresented voices are finding new opportunities in podcasting with opportunities for training, fellowships, and mentoring.

The audio streaming company Spotify has a global program called Sound Up to support podcasters in underrepresented communities with “educational opportunities, resources, and access to industry experts.” The program is now open in 12 markets, (Japan, Italy, the U.S., U.S. LatinX, India, Mexico, Australia, Sweden, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Argentina). Graduates have released popular shows including Dope LabsSearch Engine SexYou Heard Me Write, and FOGO: Fear of Going Outside.

There’s also increased visibility because of groups such as Podluck: An Asian American Podcast Collective.

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The POC Audio Directory is a database for those who work in the audio industry or aspire to do so. It lists producers, hosts, editors, engineers, and content strategists of color worldwide. The resource was inspired by Phoebe Wang as she accepted the Best New Artist Award at the Third Coast Festival in 2018. Wang made a call to action and rebelled against a statement by audio institutions that it’s hard to find people of color to hire. Find more about career opportunities in Chapter 10.

BIPOC Podcast Creators has launched its own paid small business and freelancer Directory called Verified Service Provider Directory, which includes producers, editors, marketers, public relations specialists, and more, “all of whom have been vetted by the BIPOC Podcast Creators Team.”

BLK Pod Collective is an educational resource for Black creatives. It was started by Black women as an Instagram page in 2018 and the group has since launched Blk Podfest, a festival to fill the needs of Black podcasters.

The Black Podcasters Association is a membership organization of Black creatives and professionals and BIPOC Podcast Creators is operated by Black and Latinex women to connect and empower their community.

However, the bad news is that after three years and applications from more than 100 countries, the Google Podcast creator program has ended. The boot camp training with PRX for underrepresented voices included 20-weeks of training, mentorship, and seed funding.

Growth in Spanish Language Podcasts 

Spanish language podcasts are booming, thanks to large numbers of Americans who speak Spanish at home and the growth of podcasts in Latin American countries as well as in the U.S.

The Washington Post has now expanded the number of episodes per week from two to four for its Spanish-Language podcast started in 2019.

Kickstarting Women Podcast Hosts

Although women make up nearly half the podcast listening audience they host or co-host only 22% of the shows. The best hope for change might be the podcast networks that are now run by and for women.


In 2017 Twila Dang founded Matriarch Digital Media —  a podcast network and online community.

Two other female-founded podcast networks began operation in 2019. Earios had a Kickstarter campaign that raised enough money to launch 12 shows. Vulture interviewed the co-founders about efforts to build their community.

Lemonada Media launched as a woman-owned podcast network that shares the “unfiltered version of the human experience.”

In addition, Werk It, the WNYC women’s festival for podcasting wants to raise the number of female podcast hosts by holding workshops and networking.

Pay Equity Still Lags

While podcasting is an inclusive industry that almost anyone can join, there’s still a race and gender inequity pay gap that mirrors the rest of society as many women make just 78-80% of what their male counterparts do in the same job. Find more about salaries in Chapter 10.

Podcast host and syndication service Simplecast quotes a study that found a pay gap in early-stage company equity grants.

“The most alarming imbalance exists in Venture Capital (VC) funding. In 2018, women of color experienced the deepest gap, with Black women receiving 0.0006% of funding, and Latinx women receiving 0.32%. Companies founded by women raised 2.3% of total VC funding invested. Mixed-gender founding teams raised 10.3%  —  still dismally low compared with the funding received by white, non-Hispanic male founders.”

Simplecast signed a pledge to take action on the issue.

TREND: Company Brands In Podcasting

Companies also create podcasts, providing information for consumers as well as an opportunity for marketing. Financial services giant Charles Schwab has four podcasts with advice and a look at the political landscape for investments.

Sporting goods company REI has multiple podcasts where outdoor enthusiasts share their stories on ultrarunning, hiking and bike building.


Internal Podcasts Are Growing

In addition, there’s been an increase in the number of businesses doing internal company podcasts – in some cases replacing the company newsletter.

Companies use the podcasts in a variety of ways:

  • Keeping employees connected, valued and building company culture.
  • Keeping up to date with the latest developments and avoiding screen fatigue.
  • Do employee training, development and onboarding of new hires.
  • Engaging in difficult conversations.

In 2020 Dropbox created an internal podcast in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement to discuss the difficult topic of systemic racism. Arlo Technologies has a podcast called the “Virtual Water Cooler” where the HR team talks with employees on different themes.

The private podcasts are done the same way as public ones but businesses can restrict who has access. Content can be accessed on popular listening apps but it’s not publicly displayed on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and others. The podcasting firm uStudio has seen its clients now produce an average of 10 podcasts using its platform, according to Digiday.

Education & Academic Research Podcasts

A number of colleges and universities have created podcasts that explore academic research or revolve around academic stars. “Deep Background with Noah Feldman” from Harvard explores the news from a historical, scientific, legal and cultural context.

Other podcasts feature students such as the podcast, “A Hard Look,” that I advise for the Washington College of Law and the Administrative Law Review.


A podcast network called Booksmart Studios started out a year ago with four shows focused on some scholarly topics. Two of the shows will be hosted by college professors – one in history and another in linguistics. Funding came from a six-figure advance from Substack, the venture-backed publishing platform.

What Are The Top Podcasts?

So what are the top podcasts?

The answer depends on where you look because there is no “Top Billboard” chart like the music world has or the Nielsen ratings for television.

Instead, there are a number of podcast rankers and they use different metrics. Each month Edison Research publishes a list of Top 20 Podcasts and Top 20 Publishers. Find out much more about audience measurement in Chapter 10.

As for the top genre, comedy is once again king according to Edison Research, among weekly podcast listeners.


There are plenty of opinions being offered on the best podcasts:


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Tools for Podcasting by Jill Olmsted is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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