Why you should be listening to podcasts

Did you notice that you don’t have the option to delete your podcast app on iOS anymore? It’s that purple-y one with the microphone that you sometimes confuse for the iTunes store. If you’re using it only about as much as you do your tips app (that yellow one with a ‘T’ in the center of a lightbulb) you’re falling behind the curve. Time to catch up.

Back in action…

Back from where? A combination of the words iPod and broadcasting, podcasting didn’t catch much traction when introduced in 2004. These large media files were a burden to download and their nerdy, low-quality content was grossly unappealing to the vast majorities.

Crawling up the ranks in 2013, podcasting finally experienced a surge in popularity in 2014. This flurry of good fortune largely due to the unrelenting efforts of those who had been invested since 2004 and the debut of new series such as “Serial.”

Adnan makes a killing…

Or did he? Maybe you’ve heard of the wildly popular podcast “Serial” and have been lured in to the podcasting life by Laura Keonig’s silvery voice. Through a 12 episode series, Keonig expertly unravels and reassesses the details of Adnan Sayed’s conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999.

In just one month, “Serial” won the loyalty of 1.5 million listeners per episode. For comparison purposes, “This American Life,” which is currently the most popular podcast, took four years to reach one million listeners per episode.

If you haven’t heard of “Serial,” don’t worry about it. Adnan is still in max security prison and you have plenty of time to catch up on his story. But hurry…Season 2 is rumored to be released in the fall!

Why podcasts are sticking around…

Podcasts are free. Their content is original and the hosts are personable. A bit longer than a song, and thank goodness not as long as your audiobook, the podcast’s streamlined content ranges from about 20-60 minutes and is manageable for the short (or a bit longer) commute to work or walk across campus.

Most importantly, the content is available on the listener’s time. Nearly two-thirds of American adults (64%) now own a smartphone. With its easily accessible and intellectually stimulating content, the number of podcast users continues to grow, with 17% of Americans tuning in this year.

What you should listen to next…

Not sure if there are more flavors of podcasts or ice cream (probably ice cream, but you get my drift). Here are a great list of recommendations from TED, sampled below:

On Being
A classic podcast from Krista Tippett. “This weekly conversation grapples with the many facets of human connection and existence,” says TED Prize director Anna Verghese. “It explores value, faith and meaning.” Lisa Bu of our Distribution team recommends this podcast too. She says, “It explores the big questions at the center of life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” 

Stuff You Should Know
“This podcast is super fun,” says engineer Michael Rhing. “Each episode does a great job covering a subject in about 30 minutes. The episode that got me hooked was ‘How Skywriting Works’ — never really something that I thought would have an interesting history. But they proved me wrong.” 

Call Your Girlfriend
“The premise of the podcast is: two long-distance best friends catch up with each other,” says Vega. “The conversation can go anywhere from general life updates to political legislation, Kanye West, tech news, period jokes. I love it because it feels like a genuine conversation between two friends who are hard-working and creative.”

View the full list of recommendations from TED.

Makin’ Money

Bringing talent and experience, many of the top podcasts are offshoots of public radio production companies who, frankly, know what they’re doing. Without the major FCC regulations which greatly limit radio content, podcasters are getting creative with their advertising. The ads are often read by the host and are so short that it’s pointless to skip ahead.

Listeners are buying in. An internal survey by Midroll, a podcast ad-sales network, found that 63% of people bought something a host had promoted on his show.

Cast Party

“Like, the Lollapalooza of podcasts.” The biggest names in podcasting (RADIOLAB, INVISIBILIA, REPLYALL, ETC.) are hosting a live broadcasting at the Skirball Center in NYC. The show’s sold out, but you can see the inaugural Cast Party at your local cinema on Tuesday July 28th at 6pm.